The Whole Lutheran Thing Was New

“It was weird not being there before. You kind of feel like you’re invading, like you’re an outsider. But they welcomed us.”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions

  • What tone does the speaker use in describing his religious experience at the university? What does he value about those experiences?
  • What did it take for the speaker to feel welcome at Celebrate?
  • Why do you think the speaker remembered that day in his theology class?
  • How important is it for the speaker to be with people like himself and different than himself?
  • Why does the speaker say he can maybe understand where religious people are coming from? What’s changed for him?

Interpretive Questions

  • When was the last time you walked into a place or an event where you felt like an outsider? How did you overcome that feeling, or what did you do when it didn’t go away?
  • When was the last time you saw someone feeling uncomfortable in a place where you were at ease? What happened?
  • Is it important to put ourselves in unfamiliar situations–why/why not? What makes it challenging to go into unfamiliar situations?
  • If you have a faith tradition, what does it say about the value of welcoming strangers? How does it recommend doing so?
  • Where else do we learn the value of welcoming people in our culture?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for The Whole Lutheran Thing Was New

I realize that it is a Lutheran university, and the whole uh, Lutheran religion was kind of new to me coming in but it’s one of those things where you kind of surround yourself with and you learn a lot from it regardless if you if you’re in that, that type of religion or not.

I grew up in the church, and through life circumstances that began to unfold in my own life I kind of started to shut God out a lot for awhile, and it was at the end of my the end of my seventh grade year going into my eighth going into eighth grade in middle school we stopped going to church on Sundays. And throughout my entire high school I kind of uh, I kind of had this anger towards God, and so I kind of shut God out and now I’m starting to try to re, redo that ground, re, come up with that ground with God.

In terms of social aspect on campus there is, there’s just as many people who are just as confused as you as there are people who are the people who are heavily involved with the Lutheran denomination, and that creates a, it gives you a chance to surround yourself with those who are Lutheran as well as those who aren’t and allows you both to grow together as one community.

I remember the beginning of the semester, of our second semester in the spring and there was a couple of friends I had met through a class and we had um decided that we had wanted to try the Celebrate! which is a campus religious type of celebration that they held on Wednesday nights. I think it’s about 9 o’clock at night. They go in. There’s a lot of worship you’re allowed to do. I think there’s some time for prayer.

And we went there, and it was, it was weird in terms of not being there before. Everybody was really doing their own thing and as you walk in and you see these people, um, in the traditions or the rituals that they were doing you kind of feel like you’re invading and you’re kind of like an outsider. In a sense, when you’re not participating in what these people are you kind of feel like you’re the one that doesn’t belong.

It was almost like they welcomed us there. It was weird. I can kind of parallel this a little bit. The welcome that I got from the people who were there as I was going in was so, so similar to the kind of welcome I got when I came here when I first arrived at Valpo and the amount of passion they had coming in on Wednesday nights at 9 o’clock for something that was kind of late you know we have school and things of that nature but yet still going in there and still being passionate about what they’re doing and what they’re celebrating and knowing the meaning behind why they’re there. I think that was probably, it was eye-opening. And since then we’ve gone back multiple times. We’ve created friendships from that organization that Celebrate! group.

My theology professor, I brought up a question regarding the end of days and how the Book of Revelations is often, often times is viewed as a book of turmoil and distress and things of that nature whereas we should be looking at it as a message of hope and joy. And I remember my professor asking me directly, “Have you ever thought about the end of time?”

And I remember just sitting there and said, and just blatantly I said, “No, I have not thought of the end of times.”

I feel like my professor at that point was wanting to know a little bit more like okay can you give us an example or why have
you not or anything of that nature.

And I just remember telling him, I said, “You know this is all new for me.” I said, “In terms of thinking about the new things or these things that you’re just now beginning to tell me I have not thought about them, and I don’t think I’m ready.”

And he said, “After taking this class,” because this was at the end of the semester he says, “Have you started thinking about it any more?”

And I said, “Yeah, I have.”

And the realization that came to me was all the experiences throughout the first and second semester in terms of the religious encounters I had through Celebrate!, through the theology class, through the fact that there are a lot of people on campus who are involved in religion I was able to finally come to terms with maybe and just maybe I’m starting to understand where people who are in the religious aspect are coming from.