GK: There are many Concordia universities and colleges in America -- in Ann Arbor and Seward, Nebraska, and Austin, Texas, and Irvine, California, and St. Paul and White Plains, New York, and Selma, Alabama, all of them part of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, except this Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, the only Concordia that is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Obviously this Concordia was created as a halfway house for Missouri Synod kids to get into the ELCA. A sort of Underground Railway. If you're Missouri Synod, you can tell your parents--
SS: I got accepted at Concordia.
TR: Oh. Great.
GK: And the parents never knew that you're taking your first big step toward becoming an Episcopalian.
TR: Thank goodness you're not going to Augsburg or St. Olaf or Luther or one of those worldly schools. Concordia -- that's good.
GK: The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church is the German wing. It raises children who know a lot of Bible verses by heart but not necessarily the ones about forgiveness. There is an electronic detector up front that beeps if anyone tries to come forward for communion who shouldn't be there. It isn't true that Missouri Synod forces women to wear a chador, but on the other hand, if they do, it just makes it a lot easier for everybody.
SS: I came to Concordia and the day I got here my roommate said that the seven-day creation of the world is a metaphor and not literally true and I realized -- I wasn't in the Missouri Synod anymore. I went to a dance and I really got into it. I'd never danced before and suddenly I was leaping in the air and letting out shrill cries. I felt like my body was natural, and good. I had a cigarette. I used a swear word. I thought about getting dreadlocks.
GK: The ELCA, or Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, is the Scandinavian wing. It raises children who know about the Bible generally but wouldn't be able to find verses that quickly, especially the ones in the minor prophets and the epistles. It ordains women and it is in communion with Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, and goodness knows who else.
SS: Concordia was like a foreign exchange experience for me. There are Democrats there and I started hanging out with some of them openly. I decided to major in French. I started dating a Methodist. I began developing a sense of irony. When my mother asked me what I was doing with my time, I told her it was none of her business.
GK: Concordia. It's a place where good kids can take a look around the corner.
SS: I'll go back to the Missouri Synod of course. When I'm ready to have children. But first I'm going to spend a year in Paris.
GK: Concordia. It's maybe not Lutheran the way your parents thought it was, but it's your education, not theirs. Send for our course catalog and bulletin and we'll mail it to you in a plain brown wrapper.