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Dear Garrison, It seems odd

August 3, 2005 |

Dear Garrison,
It seems odd to use your first name as we've never met, but since I've listened to PHC all my life, I do feel like we have some sort of relationship.

I recently had my first real encounter with Lutherans. I volunteer at a charity called MedShare International every Saturday morning, where we sort surplus medical supplies for shipment to developing countries. We often have religious groups come in to help us with the sorting; being approximately atheistic, I always feel a bit awkward around them. However, this weekend, a Lutheran group came in to help out, and I immediately had a nice, warm feeling toward them. Over a box of surgical gowns, I worked up the courage to shyly say to one: "So, do you mind if I ask... As a Lutheran, do you listen to Garrison Keillor?" Without a blink, without a pause, came the reply: "Oh, yes, all the time!"

So I just wanted to say: thank you for predisposing me to feel a kinship with Lutherans, and for giving me a conversational "in" with them!

— Sarah

Sarah, your Lutheran friend was being polite and positive, which are Lutheran traits, and so are generosity and the love of work, which led her to volunteer on a Saturday morning. I'm not surprised that you felt that instant kinship with them. I feel the same way anytime I set foot in a Lutheran church, enveloped by good-hearted people, and inside of ten minutes I start to feel pangs of guilt for every joke I've made at their expense. There was a Lutheran church in San Luis Obispo that put on a potluck supper when PHC was there and we stood around and sang songs together and it was just like you expect heaven will be, except with tuna hotdish. The show we did at St. Olaf College in Northfield with the magnificent orchestra and choir and the whole audience singing "Children of the Heavenly Father" by heart and in four-part harmony. This is one thing you atheists miss out on, Sarah — standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others and singing in harmony. It may be what makes Lutherans so easy to be around, their sense of sympathetic harmony.

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