In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lashing Out


I've been in a snarky mood lately. I think I've felt that I need to share my feelings with others. Last night, I wrote a difficult email to someone to stop sending me email forwards that I was finding offensive. Today, I took on a total stranger. This article appeared in courant.com. I was so bugged, that I felt the need to write back. Read the article first, and then read my response.


Mr. Cohen,

On my Google News page, I have a section for "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" to keep up on what is happening in the ELCA, a denomination of which I am a part. Your column showed up in that area tonight, and I clicked on it to read more.

I'm assuming that you are not a Lutheran, and that you have a quaint disdain for the Upper Midwest. We are cute, simple, smiley (and blond...can't forget blond) people. Minnesota, North and South Dakota has undergone a major shift in the last few years. Yes, there are plenty of us with a Scandinavian background (I've had two full-blooded Swedish grandparents), but we are also home to the largest Somali, Hmong, and Native American concentrations in the United States. If you look back in the news last year, you will find an immigration raid on the Swift Meat Packing Company in Worthington, MN. Those illegal immigrants didn't get sent back to Norway.

And now the Lutherans. Yes, we are the quaint, humble people of Garrison Kellior lore. However, you don't seem to understand that this is a major denomination in the Christian faith. Since I'm a part of the ELCA, I'll speak for them. The same day that you published your article, we learned that the ELCA membership dropped by over 62,000 members and 22 congregations. Here's what paradoxical: we are giving $67 million more. Interesting, huh? And not at all related to being Scandinavian.

Trust me, Lutheran Campus Ministry is a special job that can only be filled by the certain type of pastor. You need to relate to students, you need to run a congregation, and you need to participate in the political life of the church. I work in Campus Ministry, and I see how it burns people up pretty quickly. My former boss was the Executive Director of Lutheran Outdoor Ministry in South Dakota. He was also burned out and left to run a small camp in Northern Minnesota. It's more complicated to manage a network of camps than it might seem.

So, yes, you are a long shot for running Lutheran organizations, because you don't understand what Lutherans are. I hope you come back and see more of Minnesota and more of the Lutherans. We are a dazzling bouquet with tremendous diversity.

Ross (note the Scottish name, despite being 1/2 Swedish)
Minneapolis, MN


p.s.
You can also interview our Jewish senator (Norm Coleman), our Muslim representative (Keith Ellison), or the Jewish man running against our current Jewish senator (Al Franken) to get a better perspective on being blond and Lutheran in Minnesota. They might remember former senator Paul Wellstone (also Jewish).

2 Comments:

Blogger Rev Scott said...

Awesome - simply friggin' awesome! Cohen may be right on the overwhelming Scandinavian bias in rural Minnesota, but as you noted, there's SO MUCH MORE than just us Swedes & Norskies.

2:00 PM  
Blogger ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

And don't forget that about have the people with Finnish background have babies who are born with black hair which later turns almost white/blond.

And then there all of us Minnesotans who have adopted across racial lines at a higher rater than the rest of the US.

7:50 AM  

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