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You can not get to Heaven by Lutefisk alone. Because lutefisk comes from the other place.

As we drove by a Lutheran church, busy with what seemed to be an event of some sort on a Saturday afternoon, we started cracking classic “Looteran” jokes.

At some point, it inevitably segued to Lutefisk, possibly due to the same-sounding word and the fact that more than one North Dakota church (many of which are Lutheran) have had a lutefisk feed.

“The problem with lutefisk, as if there was only one problem, is that it’s a works-based religion,” I said.

My friend has a video camera mounted to the interior glass windshield, one that records the traffic ahead as well as audio; I’ve often thought about how many of our conversations would sound should it ever be needed in a legal proceeding.

But I plowed ahead. Police need a laugh, too.

“It’s as if they eat that horrible fish and then think in their hearts ‘surely the Lord will allow me in heaven for having suffered so greatly for him in the basement of this church’.”

Obviously, I’m joking here and this is not meant as a slight towards Lutherans, Scandinavians, and people who actually like Lutefisk. Being none of those three things, I cannot relate.

There are all kinds of books and skits and entire comedic plays about church suppers, but my own personal experiences did not involve much of what is detailed. Those sources tend to take a Garrison Keillor approach, Minnesota-izing everything, which is also code for Lutheran-izing it with some “you betcha” and over-pronounced vowels (especially the letter O) and jokes about hotdish. The hotdish aspect holds true, admittedly, no matter what denomination you come from.

Our church suppers were marked by incredibly weak Kool-aid and fantastic desserts.

Tammy, who brought in a delicious pan of bars one such church supper, found several women oohing and aaahing over them.

“What are these, Tammy?” one woman asked. I was a teenager at the time, so I leaned in close hoping to get the recipe.

“They’re called ‘better than se—um. Wait,” she said as several ladies began to chuckle and a few had big eyes. “Let’s call them ‘better than Bible study’ bars.”

I wonder, if you eat lutefisk first and then Tammy’s bars, do they cancel each other out?


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