Kept to Myself for a Good Long While

“I had a lot of preconceptions, or, maybe, misconceptions, about what it would be like.”

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Transcript for Kept to Myself for a Good Long While

When I first arrived in Valpo, uh, I was 17, and I was a first year undergrad student. So that was my first introduction to the Valparaiso, uh, community and campus, and it felt different in that before coming to campus I knew that this was a Lutheran campus. That’s how I remember it being described to myself, to my family, when we were looking for colleges.

So I knew that Valpo had an identity as a, as a Lutheran campus, and that felt like it was the focus before I came even, and I didn’t know any Lutherans out in Connecticut, and so this, this sort of focus on you know the Lutheran Church the Lutheran heritage was new.

It was challenging because I had a lot of preconceptions, or, maybe misconceptions, about what it would be like to be here as a person who had no connection with the Lutheran Church, and sort of, um, I don’t know complicated fragmented connection to the church in general. I just kind of kept to myself for a good long while until I finally decided that I would attend a chapel service here on campus on Sunday morning.

So I went open-minded, not with any specific expectations. I was just curious. I went to the service and afterwards came back to my floor, and one of the young women on my floor who was also at the service said, “Well what did you think?”

And I replied that, “Well I thought it was interesting. It was good. It kind of struck me that there, there were a lot of similarities between the Lutheran service and the Catholic services that I had attended on occasion with friends back in high school.”

Not very regularly, but on occasion I would go to mass with a friend or two. So I made this comment comparing my Catholic experience with my Lutheran experience, and I had no sense that this comment would draw out such strong feelings in this student.

She spent a good amount of time explaining to me how they were not at all alike, and how could I think such a thing, and this is what Lutheranism as all about, and it’s not at all like Catholicism, and I was stunned because I was an innocent comment, and I didn’t know that someone could feel so strongly. I mean I honestly knew nothing about Lutheranism, about the split, ELCA, Missouri Synod, I didn’t, I wasn’t familiar with any of that.

You know it was just sort of a casual comment in the hallway, and it became this intense conversation, and, uh, you know I meant no offense, but, but she really took the wrong way or in a way I hadn’t intended and I was really referring to the fact that to me that it felt like high church with kneeling rails and tall ceiling and whatnot.

So that experience really kind of closed me off again, and I thought, “Well maybe I will hold back and not share these kinds of observations so freely because clearly I hadn’t anticipated that kind of reaction.”

  • Scot S.

    This was an interesting idea to address. Coming to campus can definitely be intimidating when you don’t really know anything about Lutheranism/ if you’re not religious. I admire the speaker for having the courage to attend an unfamiliar service (which also can be intimidating).