A Prairie Home Companion
Saturday, February 14, 1998


LUTHERANISM

TR:....we'll be right back after a message from LYLE, Lutheran Youth League of Evangelism.

(MUSIC)

GK: I grew up in Minnesota, amidst kids named Pedersen and Anderson and Erickson, and yet I always liked to play alone with my hundreds of plastic soldiers, (MARCHING FEET) line them up in ranks, and then (BOMBER APPROACHES) a bomber would come in and drop a book on them, a dictionary (WHAM), and then I would open a hospital (SIREN) and lay the little bodies in rows covered with Kleenexes, and one by one they would die (TINY COUGHS & DEATH) and be buried in the sandpile under crosses made of matchsticks (TAPS, MOUTH TRUMPET) and I remember coming in from a memorial service and hearing my mother in the kitchen praying for me.

SS: (OFF) O Lord---- please take care of my little Carson and make him normal, Lord. Or as close to normal as you can. Preciate it.

GK: This was her prayer. She was Lutheran, and so was Dad. (TR SWEDISH GIBBERISH) Both of them hoped that I would discover Lutheranism, and through it, find the pleasure of team sports and belonging to clubs and attending square dances. (DARK CHORDS) But the very idea of dancing terrified me. The thought of holding a girl's hand or putting my arm around her waist, aroused in me the deepest fears and anxieties, and that was why I was so attracted to an evangelist I heard on the radio named Brother Cliff. He came on the radio every day at 4:30 from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he said dancing was wrong.

TR (REVIVAL PREACHER): And we see in the 18th chapter of the Book of Revelations ---- "And the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her" ----- Committed fornication with her----- And where did it start, this fornication? It started with ballroom dancing. Men and women.....in each other's arms in dim light! That is an abomination unto the Lord.

GK: Well, that sure suited me. To be forbidden to do what you didn't want to do in the first place seemed like a great convenience. I wasn't that good a student either.

TR (PREACHER): And the Bible tells us to Beware of taking pride in intellectual attainments! Beware of all forms of so-called "higher learning"!! Amen!!

GK: I had no attainments at all, I was happy not to take pride in them. ----The Lutherans taught that you should learn to get along with other people and be helpful and kind and do your part and be a good citizen, but Brother Cliff said that was all wrong....

TR (PREACHER): Lo, the godly must separate ourselves from the ungodly, the clean from the unclean, we must have no part of them or with their children! Amen!

GK: Well, I never wanted to have any part of them whatsoever, I was glad to hear him say it. But then he said something else that bothered me.

TR (PREACHER): The Bible commands us to be joyful! Psalm 66. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands!"

GK: Well, I didn't see how I could do that so I went over to the Unitarians to see what they were up to.....

SS: How often, on these beautiful Sunday mornings, as we walk amidst the wonders of creation, each worshipping in his or her own way ---- how often do our hearts rise within us and cry out, "O Thou Great Whatever You May Be, If Anything, Regardless of Whether We Call It "God" or That or Up There --- how often do our hearts cry out ----- or our minds --- (FADING) or our kidneys ---- or whatever other part of the body ----

GK: And then I tried the Episcopalians for awhile, and I don't know, maybe I just picked the wrong church on the wrong Sunday....

TR (HIGH BRIT, PLENTY OF REVERB): As the Psalmist says, I will look unto the hills from whence cometh my help. What does this mean, "unto" ---- Let us take a closer look: un-to, "un," meaning not, or without, and "to" meaning "towards," and thus "unto": towards without. That way.

GK: From the Episcopalians, I went over to visit the Catholics for awhile, but they were in the midst of liturgical reform then, and I got tired of guitars and folk masses....

PD (CAMP COUNSELOR GUITAR & SING):

Hey hey kyrie

Hey hey hodie

Hey hey kyrie

Deo, de-e-e-0

Daylight come and me want to go home

A---men.

GK: And then I tried the Methodists, but they were much too friendly for my taste.

SS: Hi! Good to see you! I'm Bev and this is my husband Bob--- just wanted to say hi. Saw you walk in and it just made me feel so warm and happy inside. I thought to myself, There's someone who cares enough to come into our church, isn't that nice? You wouldn't mind if I give you a big hug, would you?

GK: I would mind. I would mind a lot. So I left. And I tried the Church of the Holy Shrine of the Republican Revelation.... (ORGAN TONE)

ALL, CHORAL READING:

I am a unique and beautiful person Whom God has sent to freely gather the riches of this world Unto myself without hindrance and without guilt. I was meant to be here, And I was meant to have a great deal of money.

GK: When they took the collection at that church, they passed around a box with a tiny slot just big enough to stick a dime in. I went to the Druids for awhile....(OUTDOOR AMBIENCE. LITTLE BELLS, LIGHT CEREMONIAL DRUM)----

ALL (CHANTING, OVER AND OVER): You're doing fine.

Okay.

Looking good.

That's the way.

GK: ----people in white caftans, their faces painted, garlands of flowers around their necks, standing in a grove of trees, holding candles, swaying back and forth, whanging on a drum and reaffirming each other's personhood. And it was nice, but after awhile you sort of wished for some content. (CHANTING FADES OUT) So I left and went and sat in the park for awhile. And then this guy came and sat down next to me.

TR (MINNESOTAN): So---- what you been up to then? you been going around to a whole buncha different churches then, huh? Kinda looks like you been. You look sorta confused now, dont ya. I spose it was pretty interesting, though, huh? Yeah. Go around and see all those other churches then, don't ya know. Yeah. I suppose that was kinda different, wasn't it. So what do you think then?

GK: I don't know what to think.

TR: Yeah, I sorta figured that. So why don't you just come with us and be a Lutheran then? Huh? It's not the worst church you're ever going to find, I'll tell ya that. Got good programs and everything. Preaching's not so bad. Got the communion and everything. Bible class. Choirs. Suppers and stuff. Go on trips. We got softball leagues. Put on Christmas parties. Yeah. Get together and just have a real good time. So why not?

GK: I suppose you're right.

TR: Eventually you're going to be Lutheran so why not now, then?

(MUSIC UP)

SS: The Lutheran Youth League for Evangelism. Lutheranism: it's not the worst church you're ever going to find.

TR: Eventually you're gonna, so why not now?

(MUSIC OUT)

© 1998 Garrison Keillor


Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy