May 2021 Congregational Discussion Guide

[1] Per Anderson asserts in his essay,

“Rejecting complacency, ELCA schools should focus upon responsible citizenship in response to crises of polarization and distrust that threaten U.S. democracy.”  He asks readers to contemplate,

“How should ELCA colleges and universities commit to responsible learning form students for a post-COVID-19 world?”

Consider a memorable experience you had as a student that, in your opinion led you to become a more responsible citizen, as defined by Anderson as a person committed to the public good, who rejects polarization and distrust.  Share this experience with the group. What values did you learn at the school you attended? What pragmatic ways to act on those values did you learn?

Hearing the experiences of others and considering your own, do ELCA colleges have something unique to offer in terms of responsible learning?

Brainstorm what we all can do to better support our ELCA schools to give experiences and skills to the current generation of students who seek to be responsible citizens.


[2] William Rodriguez outlines both the seductive qualities of and the dangers of conspiracy theories. After reading his essay consider the following questions: “What is the difference between a conspiracy theory and a new theory?” “What is the difference between a conspiracy theory and a belief?”

Consider Rodriguez’s assertion that using the principles of Sufficiency, Sustainability, Solidarity, and Participation we can sort out dangerous conspiracy theories from new ideas and deeply held faithful values:

Discuss how looking to see if a theory sufficiently accounts for data and experiences can help us as consumers of new theories and news stories.

Discuss how looking to see if a theory upholds human dignity and seeks to sustain life can help us as consumers of new theories.

Discuss how looking to see if a theory calls us to solidarity as a community can help us as consumers of new ideologies.

Consider how discussion and thoughtful participation can help us find theories that best account for data, uphold human dignity, sustain life, and call us to solidarity.


[3]  Chris Suehr helps readers think through the importance of incarnate practices that highlight the real presence of Christ among us while also leading us to consider ways that technology can allow us to experience community even in isolation.

Share an experience of church this past year that was particularly moving for you.

Share an experience of church in your life in which you felt the presence of Christ.

What ideas for the future of church and ritual do you want to see implemented when the pandemic comes to a close?


Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI.