Monday, December 04, 2017

Maureen's Story

Photo from wikicommons
Thanks to "Maureen" for sharing her thoughts here. Please leave a note in the comments -- even if you have no advice. Sometimes it helps to know others are listening. 

Hi there,


I am a former ALC member. My parents are still members. Due to my parents' religious beliefs, my childhood was missing so many things other kids experience. Sleepovers, birthday parties, going to movies as a family, going to prom, going to concerts, drinking a first beer together, family movie nights with popcorn, etc. Now, we're all grown up and we lead our own individual lives. We imbibe every now and again, attend mainstream churches, go to movies, go to concerts, and have dinner parties. We do these things with our friends. We do not do these things with our parents. I don't even talk to my parents about these activities. 
"Due to my parents' religious beliefs, my childhood was missing so many things other kids experience."
I guess I am struggling with the relationship with my parents now. I currently have a wide circle of supportive friends (and family members, too). I have been fortunate to have deep friendships. What I've come to realize is that friendship is often built around shared activities. These shared activities might include going to a movie, then getting a drink afterwards and talking about the movie. Those are the things that build deep connections. With my parents however -- so many things are off-limits for talking, or doing. Thus, the ability to build a deep relationship is stunted. And that makes me enormously sad. I'm not sad for myself. I have friends and deep connections. I am sad for my parents. They seem lonely and they don't know their kids. Why even have kids if you don't get to benefit from an adult relationship with them someday? But, they're too closed-minded to open up to experiences where they could have a deeper connection with their children. It's a one-sided relationship where I talk about things they like to talk about and we do things they like to do. They don't really engage in my personal interests. They're offended by many of my opinions, so I keep them to myself. 
"I wish I could be one of those people who hangs out with their mom or dad . . . "
Providence has provided me with surrogate parents who mentored me through my late teens, 20's and 30's. But, I know my parents are hurt by my giving, in a sense, their paternal/maternal role to others. I don't actually want to do that. I crave a meaningful relationship with my parents. I wish I could be one of those people who hangs out with their mom or dad laughing, connecting, and sharing life. 

I feel like this community might be a good place to start a discussion about healing relationships and managing guilt. I feel guilty that I'm not close to my parents, yet I realize it's not my fault. Now that they're aging, the broken relationship is more visible than when they were young and healthy. It all just makes me so so so sad and I don't know how to cope with all this sadness. I've kind of just accepted that this is just a burden that I have to carry.

"It all just makes me so so so sad and I don't know how to cope with all this sadness."

This is from Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy:

To honor our parents means to be thankful for for their existence and to respect their actual role as givers of life in the sequence of human existence. Of course in order to honor them in this way we need to be thankful for our own existence too. But we also will usually need to have pity on them. For, even if they are good people, it is almost always true that they have been quite wrong in many respects, and possibly still are.
Commonly those who have experienced great antagonism with their parents are only able to be thankful for their existence and honor them, as they deeply need to, after the parents have grown old. Then it is possible to pity them, to have mercy on them. And that opens the door to honoring them. With a certain sadness, perhaps, but also with joy and peace at least. One of the greatest gifts of The Kingdom Among Us is the healing of the parent-child relation, “turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).
"How do you manage the sadness?"
I find that passage helpful, but I don't have peace. How do other people who grew up in Laestadian-based religions manage the sadness of the broken relationships? What about managing these uncomfortable emotions once parents have died? Has anyone had success in creating a meaningful relationship with their parents or family? 

Thank you,
"Maureen" 


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Grave Robbing to Reconciliation

"Perhaps the best discovery made on the trip, namely 2 sacks full of Lapp skulls and bones." -- Lars Levi Laestadius
The quote is from an excerpt (translated from Swedish) of a remarkable White Paper published by the Church of Sweden, available in print (at no cost) and excerpted online, where it can be copied and pasted into Google Translate. Titled "The Historical Relationships between the Swedish Church and the Sámi: A Scientific Anthology," the paper is the result of a project begun in 2012 whose purpose was to "deepen the knowledge of historical relations between the Church and the Sámi." It serves as a public confession of abuse, and the Church calls it is a necessary first step toward reconciliation.

A direct line can be drawn between the grave-robbing of the 19th century and the race biology of the 20th century to the horrors of the Holocaust. When the Swedish Institute for Racial Biology was founded in Uppsala in 1922, it was the first of its kind in the world, and its painstaking research methodology was admired by, and became a model for, Nazi Germany. (Learn more in this excellent documentary.)

Excerpt from "The Historical Relationships between the Swedish Church and the Sámi: A Scientific Anthology":
PRIESTS CONTRIBUTED TO RACIAL BIOLOGY RESEARCH
Priests and other representatives of the Church of Sweden took part in robberies and excavations and contributed to the collection of Sámi human remains for cranial and racial research.
This research has in itself contributed to the notions of the Sámi as a primitive and lower standing people and enabled discrimination, marginalization and oppression of Sámi in Sweden.
Priests participated in the robbery of Sámi graves
During the 19th and early 1900's, Sámi tombs were plundered in a comprehensive search for skulls and skeletal parts, including the service of racial biology. Priests and other representatives of the Swedish Church participated. Today, Sámi demands that human remains be returned.
SÁMI GRAVES WERE ROBBED 
The grave robberies were sometimes held secretly during the night and using bribes. There was, of course, a resistance among Sámi against what happened, which those responsible showed little respect for.
The most famous example is Lars Levi Læstadius (1800-1861), church leader in Karesuando and Pajala parishes and founder of the Lapponian revival movement. There are several examples of how he participated in the robbery of Sámi tombs, for example as a guide and local expert in the French La Recherche expedition (1838-1840). Læstadius himself writes in an unsigned newspaper article about what the expedition found: "Perhaps the best discovery made on the trip, namely 2 sacks full of Lapp skulls and bones."

Friday, November 03, 2017

A Sweet Story, a Familiar Tune

A friend posted this sweet story about the love of friends. The hymn will be a familiar one to many of you.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

One of Us


I strongly recommend "One of Us," a documentary (now streaming on Netflix) that follows three people who have left their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. No longer "one of us" to their family and friends, each person has a distinct story, a unique trajectory out of their former lives. You'll recognize the same themes we've encountered in Laestadianism -- ultra-Orthodox Lutheranism, if you will.

In a magazine interview here, one of the men in the documentary explains his former faith:

"Does it withhold a broad education from their children in order to keep the children narrow-minded and uneducated? Yes. Does it vilify the outside world in order to keep its members from joining it? Definitely. Does it have a fear and/or doomsday element to it? Of course. Is there ex-communication for those who dare to leave? Oh yeah."

"For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us. I believed that all goyim are murderers, rapists, degenerates and dirty second-class citizens. Of course, they/we aren’t but I was taught that in order to make the secular lifestyle less appealing. I was told horrible things would happen to me in this world and the 'next world' if I leave. I was told I would end up a criminal or drug addict. Many members of my family refuse to speak to me to this day."

The Laestadian version of "One of Us" has yet to be made, but a proposal is in the works, and if you are interested in supporting it, let me know.