Luther League

May 2, 1965

May 2, 1965

 A PK?

A spoiled 13-year-old wrote this. Reading it today, I realize how incredibly lucky I was to be my father’s daughter even though as a PK (Preacher’s Kid), I felt pressured to be an “example” to others. The pressure didn’t come from my father. If anything, he urged me to be exactly who I was. Don’t act religious to please him. Don’t go Satanic to rebel. Listen to your own voice.

My dad, my mom and the three PK's
My dad, my mom and the three PK’s

I didn’t get any static when I chose UCLA instead of a Lutheran college. He made no effort to direct me toward a more practical major than film writing. He was even fine when I married a Catholic.

I think the idea that PK’s should be held to a higher standard is a commonly held, rarely challenged belief. That’s why a casual observer like Jane’s mother could say, “Somehow, we thought the pastor’s daughter would be different.” It’s why Dusty Springfield sang about being despoiled by “the son of a preacher man,” not “the son of a plumber.” It’s just the way it is.

Standing proudly next to my father
Standing proudly next to my father

Growing up PK was a challenge I didn’t choose but in retrospect it was a privilege. I wouldn’t trade a minute of being Pastor Vance’s daughter to be anyone else.


February 9, 1964

February 9, 1964

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, if you missed Sullivan the first night he featured the Beatles, you were out of luck. No internet, no streaming, no DVDs, VHS or Beta. Today, when virtually any entertainment is a click away, it’s hard to recall when missing a show meant never seeing it, unless you caught it on summer reruns.

My sisters and I around '64
My sisters and I around ’64

Since then, I’ve seen this performance many times. Even if I didn’t own the DVD, it’s widely available.  While still entertaining, it can’t possibly match the excitement of watching the event unfold in real time, live.

Do people born post-Beatles fully comprehend their impact. I write about them because they were that important. There’s “before” the Beatles and there’s “after.” How many entertainers – heck, how many people – can you say that about, on a worldwide basis? Their music was the soundtrack of my adolescence, their existence colored my world.

Around '64 again - a very different world.
Around ’64 again – a very different world.

When I listen closely, I still shiver with excitement. More than fifty years later, they still sound fresh. Different. Thrilling. Electric. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, oooooo. I think I’ll watch that tape again.

January 30, 1977

January 30, 1977

CD's Baptism


Because I’m a pastor’s kid (PK), my father confirmed me – married me – and baptized my children. Every time I stood in front of the congregation and looked into his eyes, tears welled and I teetered on the edge of complete meltdown. I wasn’t sad, just overloaded with emotion. The same thing happens when I think about him now. The memory of my father officiating at CD’s baptism makes me reflect on unique aspects of life as a PK.

CD with my father.
CD with my father.

 When I was two years old (before the Alien Baby[1] emerged, and ruined my life), my father took me with him to give communion to rural parishioners. Halfway through the ceremony, his communicant’s eyes wandered so he turned to investigate what caught their attention. It was me, toddling behind, imitating his words of blessing and passing out imaginary wine and wafers.

CD with me.
CD with me.
CD meets Joyce's dog Kuala or vice versa.
CD meets Joyce’s dog Kuala or vice versa.

We acted out Bible stories to amuse ourselves. The Good Samaritan was a favorite. My father played the battered victim near death by the side of the road. I took on multiple challenging roles ranging from a snooty priest to a snotty Pharisee and a self-absorbed Levite.  Basically, I pretended not to see the dying man by the side of the road. At this point my sister Janet, bobbing with excitement, took center stage in the starring role of Good Samaritan. Between you and me, a monkey could have played her part.  All she needed to do was hoof it as far as the kitchen and ask Mommy for a glass of water. When she accomplished this feat, dramatic tension peaked. Invariably she paused –  and guzzled most of the water, saving a few drops for our dying dad. And I’m the one who got typecast as being selfish?

CD finds this all a big yawn.
CD finds this all a big yawn.

Sometimes Janet and I played Israelites in search of manna. Confused about what constituted manna  – was it vegetable, legume or dairy product? We agreed it probably resembled chocolate chip cookie dough and hid globs of it in the sofa cushions for the Israelites to discover and devour. Who knew about salmonella in the fabulous fifties?

(Future blogs will explore other aspects of growing up P.K.)

[1] See Kathy Vs. the Alien Baby footnote

November 26, 1966


 She didn’t wait till the next day; she called my father long-distance that night. She made Natalie trade rooms with her and didn’t let me out of her sight. I was supposed to meet Alan for church in the morning so we could exchange phone numbers and contact information but it was impossible. Since he thought my name was Natalie, I figured that was that.

Kathy and Natalie - which is which?
Kathy and Natalie – which is which?

Back at home, my father expressed mild disappointment but he didn’t make it into a big deal. I was home free.

A week later, my father knocked on my bedroom door. “I got an unusual letter at church.”

He unfolded a sheet of paper. “Dear Pastor Knutsen,” he read. “My name is Alan Sorenson.” He glanced at me. A surge of adrenalin left me shaky. He resumed. “I’m a Luther Leaguer from Pacific Palisades Lutheran who recently attended the “Get a Light” convention in Palm Springs. I’m trying to locate a young lady I met there named Natalie.  She’s tall, around 5’9”, with shoulder-length brown hair.” He stopped. “Sound like anybody you know, Kathleen?”

Natalie and Kathy - which is which?
Natalie and Kathy – which is which?

Uh-oh. He called me Kathleen, not Kathy. “A little like me, maybe?”

“That’s what I thought – but your name’s not Natalie.”

I couldn’t concoct a plausible lie. “All right, Nat and I wanted to try being someone else. But it wasn’t to be mean.”

The right corner of his mouth turned up. He wasn’t angry – he was amused.

Although I am the pastor's kid, I couldn't help getting my halo slightly tarnished now and then
Although I was and still am the pastor’s kid, I couldn’t help getting my halo slightly tarnished now and then

Alan was not even slightly amused. He was mortified that he addressed his letter to my father. He didn’t appreciate being lied to, especially about being a PK, the likes of which he’s not really into dating. Tough luck for him, I’m a PK for life.  So what if league sponsors spied on me and concerned parishioners gossiped? As long as the pastor in question was my dad, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The PK with the Pastor
The PK with the Pastor