Convocation – Poverty


Today’s convocation covered the topic of poverty, specifically on the legal end. John Bouman, the speaker, is the president of the Shriver Center and specializes in advocacy and anti-poverty work as well as offers a legal services program. This program has not only been extremely effective and impactful to those in poverty, but it also benefits the middle and upper class as well. Networked in thirty-four states and counting, the Shriver Center has been widely recognized as one of the best advocative programs in the country. Bouman’s calling to serve others sparked after watching generations of his relatives become pastors or serve in church leadership. His personal calling, though, wasn’t necessarily being a pastor– it was to help those in need and fight in the “war on poverty”. He helped build up the Shriver Center and has since lived by its mission statement: “how in our current political climate we can address and help our most vulnerable citizens”. Bouman’s work has three major values, or goals, that he commits his life to reaching. The first, is to promote fair opportunity for all, even if that means through the government. The second, each person’s potential has the chance to flourish. Third, the potential of these people can positively impact the entire human endeavor and contribute to society as a whole. And finally, in doing this we can improve the economy and give them the chance to contribute to the world.


Bouman’s work seems to hold an array of values, but some common themes very apparent during his speech were his passion of community and service. As we learned in our studies of the physical world as well as biblical anthropology, humans were clearly not meant to be alone. We are a social species that uses teamwork and collaboration to get things done. This idea can be directly applied to Bouman’s goals. He clearly embraces this truth about humankind and promotes communities and supporting one another. The worst possible thing we could do to those in poverty is make them feel isolated, or worse– actually ignore the issue so that they truly are isolated. Christian or not, it is a known fact that we weren’t meant to do life alone, so it is our job as people with lots of resources to not keep them to ourselves, but to give them to those who need it.


I very much enjoyed Bouman’s presentation/lecture and found it very motivating to go out the serve these people. It’s unfair that people born into poverty-stricken homes and neighborhoods have to seek help and work twice as hard to get half as much in return. I agree that we need to give our resources to programs and non-profits that make it their goal to end poverty for good and win the “war on poverty”. In doing this, we are not only helping them, but we are helping our entire country and human population.


This weekend was the annual Concordia Homecoming weekend, an event that unifies the school by gathering students, faculty, alumni, friends, and family to the campus for the homecoming football game, events, and even a carnival. The most important day of this event was Saturday, the day of the football game. All students were able to get into the game for free and cheer on their school team with their family and friends in the bleachers. Activities such as face painting and carnival rides surrounded the field and were available for people to enjoy in addition to the sporting event. Most people stayed at the game until the end, and then made their way to the carnival food stands and rides (and a petting zoo) to enjoy the rest of their evening.
This event’s goal was to unify the schools current and past members by having fun and showing school spirit. In light of this course, we can see several themes overlapping. The biggest of these is living in an interconnected world. This school-wide event is a great example of how humans are social creatures and how we long for interaction and to feel like we are a part of something greater. The network of students, faculty, alumni, friends, and family is immense at this event and creates a social energy that promotes connection. Parents visit their children, faculty catch up with students, and alumni reconnect with past friends- these are all examples of the connection that humans crave. This event was very ritual-like in its actives as well, such as the singing of the national anthem, the symbol of our mascot and school colors, and the order of the events that took place, which all play a crucial role in the event. It is definitely one of the students’ favorite rituals here at CSP.
I thought that this event was a very fun and efficient way to bring people together to support a common cause. It gave me a chance to meet new people and, being a freshman, learn more about Concordia traditions. The knowledge I now have about rituals and being human in an interconnected world made this experience much more interesting overall. It made me think deeper about the meaning behind the event and what it accomplishes. I think this event is overall a great example of being united and unified under a commonality. I think most people love the idea of getting involved with their school in one way or another, and this event offers the perfect opportunity to do so. Even just showing up impacts the school because it shows support. I really enjoyed the fun activities and the sense of school spirit on Saturday, and definitely plan on attending next year.

Does Lutheranism Still Matter? ~ Dr. Bartelt

Describe: Dr. Bartelt gave a lecture as a tribute to the 500th year since the reformation. The lecture: “Does Lutheranism Still Matter?” was about how Lutheranism is still relevant in this developing and ever-changing society we live in. 
Integrate: Dr. Bartelt started his lecture with the statement “Our religious life is directly related to where we are in history”, which he then used to transition into the thesis. His argument during the lecture was the idea that Lutheranism doesn’t have to be lost because of socio-cultural change in the contemporary and developing world we live in. Bartelt’s claimbegs the question: What does Lutheranism look like today? Is the heart of Lutheranism in it’s doctrine, which should not be changed over time? Or is it in spreading the Gospel and fulfilling the mission Christ put before us? Bartelt goes on to say that is it a balance between the two, having its own “niche” and “role” by being between the Catholics and the Evangelicals and in doing so links the past to the future. Although Lutheranism very much values traditions and rituals, it should still be adaptable and compatible with the next generations.
Evaluate: Overall I enjoyed the lecture, although I did disagree with several components. I realize that this lecture was catered to Lutherans specifically, but for me personally it was hard to apply his ideas to my own life since I don’t identify as a Lutheran. Bartelt targeted millennials a few times during the lecture- mostly about how they are fierce advocates for change and base much of what they belief on “proven” scientific fact. While that may be disappointing to many Lutherans, I think it is a great opportunity. It opens up a different area of study: looking to documents other than the Bible to learn about Jesus’s existence and events that occurred in the Bible. Of course, being a Christian requires faith, that is its very foundation. But, I think during this time of change and new developments in science, we need to (as Christians) use these new technologies to spread the Word. Bartelt mentioned that Lutherans should be flexible and adaptable to the new generation, but I think we can take it a step further and dive into this new culture and fulfill our mission. Bartelt referenced the quote “You can only sharpen your pencil for so long- you gotta pick it up and write!” which to me directly relates to us going out into the world and spreading love, and maybe putting a little less priority on doctrine. 
     Another point I disagreed with was Bartelt’s argument that “Theology doesn’t change, even if social context does”. I disagree with this statement mainly because I think that theology, like any other study, is constantly growing and expanding and, sometimes, changing. Luther’s own legacy was that he changed theology during a time when religious leaders were opposed to change. In order for something to be a foundation it doesn’t always have to be unchanging. I think that this new generation has a lot to bring to the table in terms of theology, and some might not follow “Lutheran Theology” completely, and that is okay. The Gospel makes it clear that faith in Christ is what matters, the specifics (theology, certain laws, etc.) are going to vary domination to domination and culture to culture. Our foundation should be in our faith, which is what should remain unchanged even while social context changes. 

Thoughts on “Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious”

     The introduction to the book Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious immediately got my attention. Dark starts his book off with the claim that the term “religion” has become both a limiting and categorizing term, leading people to be blind to the fact that everyone is religious in one form or another. What we allow ourselves to bond to and place the highest value on in our lives is what we idolize and worship, making endless possibilities for the meaning of the word “religion”. I very much agree with Dark’s claim and found myself very intrigued by the points he proceeded to make in this book.
     Dark achieves his goal set in the beginning of this book: to communicate with (and hopefully spread) open-mindedness regarding religion. Although the claim made in the beginning may seem stunning to readers (especially those who identify as Christian), Dark’s ability to steer from heavy bias and opinion makes the reader feel as though he is “thinking out loud” and not making any judgements. When approaching the topic of religion with an open mind, we should not only talk about it- we should embrace it. Dark believes that these things go hand in hand because we cannot talk about something everyone does without first recognizing that everyone (including ourselves) does it. We can embrace that religion is built into every human being, and in doing this really dive into our own and others’ “religions” to better understand one another, as well as become far more open-minded in our conversations and perceptions of the world around us.
     As Dark states on page 15, “Putting religion on the table in this way, if we’re open to doing so, might be the most pressing, interesting and wide-ranging conversation we can have”. In this quote, Dark is suggesting we make discussing religion a casual, every-day thing. According to Dark, we are all religious in different ways, and the sooner we embrace that about ourselves, the sooner we can have honest and open conversations about what exactly that means for us.
     This book introduced a new perspective to me on what religion means and how we as believers should approach this topic. Not only did this read encourage me to be more open about my beliefs, but it also gave me insight on the opinions of non-believers and how I can enter into both their “religion”as well as their values as a human being. I hope to use this new perspective when talking openly about religion to the various people in my life, especially when I start college at CSP.


Hello! My name is Sierra Ross and I am a graduate of New Life Academy, a small private school in Woodbury, MN. I am looking to major in Graphic Design here at Concordia because I absolutely love art and would love nothing more than to have a career in it! I would also like to learn a little more about the business side of design as well, specifically in the areas of marketing and communications.

I have a very wide range of hobbies and things that I like. I usually spend most of my time making art, my favorite mediums being acrylic paint, charcoal, and just a plain ol’ pencil. I would consider myself to be an extrovert, so when my hands aren’t covered with paint, you will find me with my friends at coffee shops, record stores, getting tea at Sencha, or just exploring the twin cities.

I also have a big passion for theatre and singing. I have been a part of many singing groups and around a dozen shows including “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Into the Woods”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and “Music Man”. My biggest role was the lead part of Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” last spring, which was by far one of the best experiences of my life so far.

Some other things I love: my family (2 brothers and my parents), Jesus, photography, plants, Star Wars, Sherlock (BBC version of course), Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings (I am sure by now you are realizing how geeky I am), bumblebees, traveling, sarcasm, peaches, Lianne La Havas, lemonade, thunderstorms, sneakers, bubble tea, the ocean, chocolate, and cats (I refuse to be categorized as a “cat person” because I love dogs too, just cats a little more).

So there’s me! I can’t wait to get to know you all during the fall! If you wanna chat or get to know me more, feel free to follow my instagram (@sierraross__) or message me on Facebook!