As part of our continuing series on faculty retirements, Lynne Lorenzen shares her experiences and plans for the future.
My name is Lynne Lorenzen, and I retired from Augsburg College after teaching here for one year part-time and twenty-two years full time. Over these years I have taught many classes in the religion department including introductory courses in theology and Bible, plus upper division courses in religion and politics with Andy Aoki and feminism and Christianity in the Women’s Studies program. I also chaired the religion department for six years and was director of the women’s studies program for three years.
I was the regional director for the Upper Midwest region of the American Academy of Religion for six years serving on the national board of directors and the finance and membership committees. As a teaching theologian of the ELCA, I served on the Lutheran Orthodox dialogue and on the first sexuality task force.
I am currently working with a former student who is an ELCA pastor and has asked me to teach process theology in her setting. Such ongoing connections are great fun and will keep me busy in retirement.
Students have kept the classroom exciting by asking questions that would not have necessarily occurred to me. Many times these questions come out of a different religious tradition or none at all. Since the ideas and stories are fresh for these students, they do not assume to know or understand what they are about and thus they provoke different questions for them. Seeing the familiar stories and ideas from such different perspectives keeps the classroom alive and current with what is happening in the world.
Teaching world religions for the past several years has also broadened my own understanding of how religious traditions work in various cultures and it is always helpful to have students from a variety of religious traditions to share their own stories of their cultures and religious traditions and how they are interacting with American culture which is dominated by Christianity. I have learned to greatly value the perspectives of all of my students, even if we disagree with each other. They each consider their own tradition to be good news for them. These encounters have embodied Diana Eck’s dialog among religious traditions that needs to occur if we are to have peace in our world.
I will continue to be active in the process group that meets in the Twin Cities and to teach process theology and world religions occasionally. I intend to focus more on religion and politics by becoming more active politically than has been possible while teaching full time. I am concerned that we are losing our sense of the common good and not caring for those in need, nor are we adequately preparing students for college work in our public schools, and we are neglecting our environment that sustains all of us.
Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the lives of so many wonderful students and colleagues.