Sunday, June 17, 2007


Lutheran Ladies Janet Letnes Martin and Suzanne (Johnson) Nelson
Authors of "Lutheran Church Basement Women" and other funny books
I really, really needed a laugh today, and I got it, courtesy of Lila from Indigo Pears (link at right). Lila knows I am a Lutheran, and her mom is Lutheran as well. In fact, Lila's mom sent this to her: (Bold, italicized comments are mine):
Garrison Keillor
I have made fun of Lutherans for years - who wouldn't, if you lived in Minnesota (or North Dakota)? But I have also sung with Lutherans and that is one of the main joys of life, along with hot baths and fresh sweet corn.
We make fun of Lutherans for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them. If you ask an audience in New York City, a relatively Lutheran-less place, to sing along on the chorus of Michael Row the Boat Ashore, they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Lutherans they'll smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road!
Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony. It's a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Lutherans to sing in harmony. We're too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment. (I can't hold a tune in a bucket, but I sing in church.)
I once sang the bass line of Children of the Heavenly Father in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it; and when we finished, we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.
I do believe this: These Lutherans are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you're dying, they'll comfort you. If you're lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you're hungry, they'll give you tuna salad!
The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:
1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.
2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.
3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.
4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.
5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.
6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children's choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited. (Believe me, this is true. It was FORBIDDEN to clap during our Sunday School and Bible School programs.)
7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.
8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.
9. Some Lutherans still believe that an ELCA bride and an LCMS groom make for a mixed marriage. (ELCA is the most liberal branch of the Lutheran church, LCMS one of the least.)
10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall. (This is my theory: Catholic guilt is instilled by the priest. Jewish guilt is instilled by Jewish mothers. And Lutheran guilt is instilled in oneself.)
11. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.
12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keillor stories are totally factual.
13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole add too much color.
14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.
15: My addition to the list: Lutherans never, ever, sit in the front row. It's that modesty thing.
And finally, you know you're a Lutheran when:
*It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service;
*You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can;
*Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee;
*The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight;
*All your relatives graduated from a school named Concordia; (I wanted my daughter to go to college at Concordia Lutheran in Moorhead, MN; she would have none of it. "I'm not going to a religious school," she said, which is totally ironic when it turns out that she went to Georgetown University (a Jesuit school) and is attending grad school at Catholic University of America.)
*When you watch a "Star Wars" movie and say, May the Force be with you, you respond, "and also with you";
*And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye. (This is more of a Norwegian thing, but I'll accept it.)
And how do you tell the difference between a Catholic and a Lutheran?
Catholics glorify Mary; Lutherans glorify rice.
I hope neither I nor Garrison Keillor (a god to me) have offended you; it was all in fun. And if you get the chance, please read one of the Scandinavian/Lutheran books by the Lutheran Ladies.


couragetocreatewriteandlove said...

Thank you!

nonizamboni said...

Oh, just the lift I needed to face another Monday!. I love Garrison Keillor, the Lutheran factoid and especially your additions. (My daughter, who was raised Nazarene, most recently studied at an Orthodox Jewish schul and is now a med student at Georgetown).
I did a post on the Zamboni awhile back...I'd like to be a MN Wild fan but the tickets are so
$$ but since moving here have seen boys high school and U ofM girls hockey. love it
Thanks for the great post!

Lila Rostenberg said...

I'll tell my mom how much you enjoyed it! I read your comments with great interest! I was raised Lutheran but it only served to make me feel out of step with our predominately Baptist and Methodist world here in the South!
Looking forward to reading one of those "Lutheran" books! (and "Night Gardening" because it is a favorite of Naturegirl and Daisy Lupin)