Showing posts with label world. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world. Show all posts

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Christmas Program

Three years ago, I attended the Christmas program of my younger children’s elementary school, my head swirling with cognitive dissonance over what I was reading in the Bible and church publications. One of the issues that stood out in my mind, as it does for so many troubled believers, was Conservative Laestadianism’s outrageous exclusivity claims. (These claims are also made by the OALC, FALC, and IALC, who all point their bony fingers of condemnation at each other along with the LLC/SRK.)

Here it is in a nutshell: The church’s membership comprises about 0.002% of the world’s population. Everyone else who is mentally competent and has achieved some vaguely defined age of accountability it consigns to an eternity of screaming torture, a fate that eventually will be shared by almost all of the billion or so of the world’s children. There are even questions about many of those within the official membership nowadays. I suspect the old guard in the SRK and LLC have been waiting quite a while now for another “heresy” to come along and clean house, freeing them from having to deal with those annoying liberals, part-timers, and questioners.

That evening I sat with my wife and watched our kids up on stage, saying their pieces and singing their little songs among the beautiful children and parents of a rural, simple, and fairly religious community. As it is most everywhere else in the U.S. and the world, none of them has ever heard of Conservative Laestadianism. The closest most will ever come to a member of “God’s Kingdom” is in their cars as they drive through the area where most of our old congregation’s members live, on their way to do some shopping in town.

Here’s what I wrote when we got home. It is reproduced from my book (§4.2.1), as is some of the commentary that follows (pp. 82, 84‑85, 242 of the printed version).

Monday, July 02, 2012

Joy of (Not) Believing

The postings and comments on this blog over the course of its several-year history often speak about the challenges and difficulties of leaving Laestadianism. It is a move that many have had to make, from fundamentalist religions of all types, when the facts could no longer bear to be disregarded. Preachers are prone to caricature those who no longer show up to listen to their sermons as having been unable to resist the lure of “the world,” taking the easy way out, leaving the fold to pursue a life of sin. The reality I’ve seen from dozens of discussions with refugees from fundamentalist religions–and from reading testimonials by hundreds more–is quite different. What became important was simply a desire for the truth of the matter, and the result of their accepting that reality was often more difficult than remaining comfortably and conveniently sheltered within the bosom of the church.

That is not to say there are no positive results from making the transition. Of course there are! After a lifetime of repression, many ex-Laestadians find profound joy in expanding their musical and cultural horizons, discovering the amazing and powerful medium of cinema, and allowing themselves the freedom to engage in romantic relationships with (gasp!) the people who surround them in their day-to-day society. Life becomes worth living for itself–right here, right now–instead of being a grim march through a world that one must disdain as sinful. The attitude is expressed well in the opening lines of one old LLC song: “My home is not here where I journey, ah no it is far, far away.”