St. Olaf College | News

Star Tribune story on ‘the power of giving thanks’ features St. Olaf expert

“When people eat together, that practice can do much more than just nourish our bodies — it can nourish our souls,” Deanna Thompson ’89, the director of the St. Olaf College Lutheran Center for Faith, Values and Community, tells the Star Tribune. “It’s important to pause before we eat and give thanks for the food and the people who prepared it … the people who grew and harvested the food and got it to the point that we’re able to enjoy it.”

The Star Tribune interviewed Thompson, a national expert on interfaith dialogue and worship, as part of a story titled “Minnesotans reflect on the power of giving thanks before a meal.” The article notes that “saying a prayer or blessing before a meal is a tradition in nearly every religious culture, including Islam, Hinduism, Bahai, Christianity and Judaism. … Even for those who don’t regularly give thanks, Thanksgiving is often the exception. Those who aren’t part of an organized religion may create their own way to observe, by giving a reading, reciting a poem or holding hands for a moment of silence together.”

Thompson told the Star Tribune that she’s often thinking about the ways that people of different faiths or beliefs can come together to give thanks before a meal. One idea is to use a simple form of thanks fitting for those of varying beliefs: “For what we are about to receive, make us truly grateful.” Another is “to ask guests to bless the food or the gathering in their own way, highlighting instead of setting aside traditions that are meaningful to them,” the paper notes.

When people eat together, that practice can do much more than just nourish our bodies — it can nourish our souls.Lutheran Center Director Deanna Thompson ’89

Thompson is an internationally known scholar and speaker, synthesizing Lutheran and feminist theologies and bringing them to bear on a wide array of contemporary concerns, from racial justice to social media to living with cancer. She has written a number of books, including Glimpsing Resurrection: Trauma, Cancer, and Ministry (2018) and Crossing the Divide: Luther, Feminism, and the Cross (2004).

About the Lutheran Center
Established in 2019, St. Olaf College’s Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community encourages the interreligious exploration of faith, values, and vocation and provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to connect with each other around questions of belief, meaning, purpose, and life choices. The center also provides programming and guidance to Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations, as well as other denominations, faiths, and higher education institutions.