Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Concordia University writing prof to keynote Metro Lutheran annual dinner October 4

Journalism teacher finds

Even while Eric Dregni was on the staff of his high school newspaper, he knew that he wanted to be a travel writer. He wanted to take long trips, stay with friends, work, see sites, and write. This is probably not the first choice of careers for most students.

Now, as assistant professor of English at Concordia University in St. Paul, with lengthy trips that included his growing family to Norway and Italy under his belt, many young writers may be jealous.

“Look to Norway,” the memorable phrase offered by President Franklin Roosevelt to mobilize a skeptical American public concerning World War II, will be the theme of Dregni’s address at Metro Lutheran’s Annual Dinner on October 4, 2009, at Roseville Lutheran Church in Roseville, Minnesota. Dregni will draw on stories of his stay in Norway, as he detailed in his book In Cod We Trust (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

Dregni and his wife Katy had their first child while living in Norway, and so experienced its progressive and supportive health care system. This experience affects how Dregni approaches health care issues today. “There, you find a sense of social order that encourages people to stick up for each other, to support each other [when they are ill or need care],” he says. “While we had trouble with other aspects of the bureaucracy [in Norway], it was a great place to have a child.”

The Dregni’s first son, Eilif, was born in Norway, but their second son, Otto, was born at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Dregni feels that there is much to compare in these experiences.

Interestingly, Dregni cites his travels for reinforcing his awareness that Minnesota is home. “We have decided to live here intentionally. We still like to live in other places, but ultimately we will return here,” he explained.

His other books, Weird Minnesota (Sterling Publishing, 2006) and Midwest Marvels (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), were written, Dregni said, because “when visitors we met in our travels came here, we asked, ‘What do we have to show them? What is unique to here?’” In the end, huge balls of twine and large paper mache prairie chickens seemed to best fit that bill.