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Learning the role of religion, football at college

For everyone with ties to Concordia, last weekend was Family Weekend ("When you're ear, you're family!"). Mom and Montana made the hefty trek to campus to see just how collegiate I've become.

Although the tour I led them on was a five-minute smash (it's a small school), the highlight of our Saturday was attending our first Cobber football game.

We were pitted against the St. John's Johnnies, whose supporters' bright red t-shirts boast "We are 1." As I wondered aloud whether the game was actually a showdown to determine which school has the lamer catchphrase (although who wouldn't be struck with terror at the sight of a "Fear the Ear!" banner?), Montana made an excellent point: "Isn't that The Lion King's motto?"

Way to know your Disney classics, Little Brother.

Although I was slightly unnerved by the slicing motions that the crowd surrounding me made toward the Johnny side of the stadium every time our pep band played the Darth Vader theme, the rivalry was largely silly.

The halftime show included plenty of elementary school humor ("Flush the Johnnies!" and Family Weekend participants tossing rolls of toilet paper into a disembathroomed toilet). However, the best Cobber cheer went as such: "Lutefisk! Lutefisk! Lefse! Lefse! Will we beat them? Ya sure you betcha!"

Taken up by foreign football lingo and the fact that just as many people were there to hear the band as to watch the boys on the field (that's what you get for choosing such a musically-inclined school, Thressa). It wasn't until somewhere during the third quarter that I realized the immense religious implications of the football game.

We noticed a couple of guys arguing next to the stands, evidently miffed about something. Distracted from the game, we looked back at the argument every few minutes, noticing as a few girls in "We are 1" tees joined the group.

The young gentlemen seated next to us, who had been very vocal Cobber supporters throughout the game, somehow became involved in the exchange of less-than-niceties.

One of them (I shall name him Roberto con Leche) who was particularly raucous in his cheering-on, shouted down to the Johnny-clad gals: "What would Jesus do?"

Johnny Girl Number Two used her hands to show Mister con Leche a couple birds, and shouted up some very un-Biblical language. Roberto blared back, "That's what the Protestant Reformation is all about!"

And then I realized: St. John's is a Catholic university; Concordia is very much a Lutheran school.

(Fun fact: There may soon be a Concordia Atheists group on campus. Okay, back to the story.)

Oddly, the cheering soon turned to chants of "MAR-TIN LUTH-ER" on the Cobber side of the schism.

Football is so weird.

I've found that religion manifests itself very bizarrely in Concordia life.

My part in the play "Slasher" requires me to portray a radically right-wing militant Christian, a sort of "superhero for God," to quote director David Wintersteen. When I leave rehearsal, I go back to my dorm to work on devil-focused projects for my Satan in Literature class.

While learning about brain functions in psychology, Dr. Sell asked us to make moral judgments about pushing a single person in front of a train in order to save an innocent bunch of bystanders. These heartstring-tugging dilemmas prompted one guy to shout from the back of the classroom, "Do they allow this at Concordia?"

Though a church-affiliated school, Concordia neither aims to protect its students from morally gray situations nor to make difficult choices on their behalves. While college students, even Cobbers, aren't perfect specimens of good judgment and ethical uprightness, Concordia's true merit comes from its continuous efforts to instill a deep appreciation for diversity, knowledge, understanding and critical thinking in every mind across campus.

St. John's football team beat the Cobbers last Saturday, but I wouldn't say it was a loss for the Lutherans. When Mom, Tana and I strolled through Family Weekend's ice cream social afterwards, we noticed a red-shirted Johnny supporter partaking in the Concordia event.

Might that be what Jesus would do? Ya sure you betcha.

Thressa Johnson graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends Concordia College in Moorhead.