January/February Issue Index

​​Role of Government



Editor's Introduction

   by James Kenneth Echols
How does the reality of hope address the deepest anxieties of human beings? This issue explores this question from a variety of perspectives. It seeks to illuminate the intergenerational and gender contours of anxiety as well as its intra-generational manifestations among Baby Boomers and Millennials. It also reflects on this question drawing upon rich biblical and theological texts and traditions. This issue concludes with a hope-filled article on New Year’s resolutions and several book reviews. In addition to the writers and others involved in the production of this edition, I extend my deep gratitude to Annelise Eeman who helped to develop its theme and content.
Anxiety and Hope in the Lives of Baby Boomers: Beginning a Conversation
   by Janet Ramsey
The need for responding to fearful narratives of aging has never been greater. Very large numbers of baby boomers are beginning to retire. As those born between 1946 and 1964 move into their seniority, they are often impacted by negative scripts that can easily lead to heightened anxiety, feelings of meaninglessness, and despair. The task for Lutheran ethics in this (crisis) context is to provide a more complex, faith-filled narrative. To do so, it is important to begin a conversation around how we might best articulate the hope that is ours in Christ as it intersects with the context in which this cohort group is aging.
​​Curtis Lanoue
Anxiety, Atonement, and Vocation
    by James Childs
In the midst of those threats of life in this not-yet world that give rise to anxiety, even debilitating or all-consuming anxiety, Jesus calls for his followers to make the promise of God’s kingdom their ultimate concern. We experience the threats of life as real and anxiety producing; they are often essentials that need to be tended to. Yet we are still called to make trust in God’s promises the paramount force in our lives. Wolfhart Pannenberg in his early and still very useful lectures on anthropology, contrasts security and trust. The drive for security is the drive to control one’s life and one’s world. When this striving for control becomes an end in itself then security and one’s own efforts becomes the ultimate concern, perversely, the object of trust. The opposite is the trust of faith in the promises of God, an openness to God’s future kingdom made present in the Christ.


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Marriage and Anxiety: The Effects of Patriarchy on Women's Self-Worthviding for the General Welfare: The Goal of Tax Reform
    by Heather Dean
In 21st century America, we live in a world in which women have supposedly achieved equality with men. However, despite new emphases on women succeeding in the classroom and at work, many women still feel a lot of anxiety regarding the pressure to get married. This anxiety, coupled with the pressure to be successful in one’s career and the persistent disparities in American society, presents today’s women with a complicated knot of worries our foremothers did not face.

Let Me Google That: A Millennial Reflects on Her Generation​
    by ​​Annelise Eeman​
Scripture calls us to aid the poor.  Why should that be limited to only the private sphere?  Lanoue explores the secular and religious arguments regarding tax reform and how it can help those who truly need it.

An Inquiry into New Year's Resolutions
    by Clint Schnekloth
The New Year engenders a flurry of soul-searching behavior, earnest plans resolving to change current behaviors, introduce new habits and cease old ones. The practice is so common that the U.S. government even has a web page listing the statistically most popular resolutions, including links to resources that will assist in achieving the new goals. However, as interesting as change is in and of itself, it is incumbent on an ethicist to ask an even more fundamental question about New Year's resolutions than the rather pragmatic and pedestrian "How?" We are called here to consider the questions "Why?" and "What?" Why should we resolve anything at all? What does a resolution signify within the overall scope of our daily intending and resolving as human beings? And what is a resolution anyway? What does it mean to resolve?​

​Book Reviews
American Civil ReligionEthics of Hopeby Jurgen Moltmann
    by Eric Markovich
From start to finish one can read Jurgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope as a call to action. His ethical expression feels very Lutheran. Like the explanation of the Ten Commandments in Luther’s Small Catechism, Moltmann focuses on what we are to do instead of what we should not do. Ethics in this sense is “the principles of conduct governing a person or group.
Many Colors

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A New Understanding of God’s Sonby Joseph Girzone​
    by Delmer Chilton​
Joseph Girzone first came to the public’s attention as the writer of simple, allegorical novels about a modern day itinerant carpenter named Joshua living in upstate New York. The difference is the main character is Jesus in modern incarnation instead of an angel on a mission to earth. Girzone’s Joshua was a combination gentle friend to all and mysterious, mystical presence whose touch healed and whose presence seemed continually graced by inexplicable coincidence and miracle. It is not surprising that the Jesus presented in this book bears a striking resemblance to Joshua the carpenter. After his novels became popular, with sales in the millions, Girzone created the Joshua Foundation, “an organization dedicated to making Jesus better known throughout the world” (back cover). This book is a part of that effort​.

​Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings (Third Edition, Fortress Press, 2012), and Treatise on Good Works (Fortress Press, 2012)​
    by ​Charles Cortright​
Ever since the publication of the first edition of Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings in 1989, this one-volume compendium of Luther texts has filled an important need for college or seminary classes focused on the life and work of Luther. In short, the volume has provided the best (and most affordable) access to a wide range of Luther’s theological works that would otherwise require access (by impoverished students!) to the individual volumes of the American Edition of Luther’s Works. Similarly, for anyone interested in sampling Luther’s thought about a variety of issues, or desiring to “get to know” the Reformer directly—letting “Luther speak,” as Timothy Lull suggested in the preface to the first edition—Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings is a gift. 

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​​​© January/February 2013
Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE)
Volume 13, Issue 1

Articles published in the Journal reflect the perspectives and thoughts of their authors and not necessarily theological, ethical, or social stances of the ELCA.​