November 2014 Issue Index: Poverty

​ World Grains 500.jpg



Editor's Introduction

Criminal Justice


   by James K. Echols
According to reliable information, 20% of American children and 13% of all Americans live in poverty. Globally, nearly one-half of the world's population or approximately 3 billion people live on less than $ 2.50 a day. Given the tragic and widespread reality of poverty, how should Christians respond and how shall we live? This issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics addresses this reality and what Christians are called to do in thought, word and deed.


Lutheran Ethicists' Gathering

Have you considered attending “Christian Reflections on Dying Well in a Technological Society?”   This year’s Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering sponsored by the ELCA’s Theological Discernment Team (January 7-8, 2015 at the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago) will bring together ethically attentive Christians whether ethicists, pastors, chaplains, teachers, or lay people around end-of-life questions.  For more information, click here​

Draft of Social Message on Gender-based Violence 

The ELCA Church Council has authorized a social message on gender-based violence. Messages are adopted by the Church Council as a means to encourage learning and moral discourse.  A draft is available online through November 26th and public feedback is encouraged.  To learn more, click here​.  To read the draft and give feedback, click here​.  




early church fathers100.jpg

Timele​ss Duties towards the Hungry Poor
​   by David Brattston
Brattston acknowledges that Christians have an obligation to care for the poor because of Scripture.  However, he points to the first two hundred years of Christian community, before debates of doctrine created a splintered church, as a further sign that all Christians share these forebears and therefore should listen to their counsel to care for the poor. In the spirit of the early church fathers, Brattston urges Christians  to pray for justice and contact their polictical representatives to enact policies that will support sustainable and sufficient standards of living. 



“Poor People” as Other: Changing the Subject to “our” Challenges of and Living with Poverty by Andrea Green  

  As Christians, we are called to serve the poor.  However, how do we do so justly and effectively?  Green notes that by identifying the poor as "other"--as something outside of "us"--we do a disservice to the community and often do not help those in need.  Christians should stand in solidarity with those in poverty as members of the body of Christ.​


ELCA-1024x1024 100.jpg


A Black Lutheran Perspective on Poverty and Plenty
   from "A Message from Bulawayo"
Excerpted from the official statement of the Conference of International Black Lutherans' second meeting, "A Message from Bulawayo," this piece discusses the complex social, economic, and political forces that create the crisis of poverty worldwide.  Though the message was published in 1997, its contents are still frighteningly relevant today. ​

Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All
   Social Statement of the ELCA

 In this social statement from 1999, the ELCA adopted a view of economic justice that is still of pressing relevance today.  When Americans thinks about economics, they often think of their own personal finances.  However, according to the statement, as the body of Christ we are called to be attentive to the wellbeing of those who do not have a sufficient, sustainable livelihood.  ​

Book Reviews

rupturing esch100.jpg 

Rupturing Eschatology: Divine Glory and the Silence of the Cross by Eric J. Trozzo
    Review by Anna Madsen
The best stuff of a book is often stashed away at the bottom of the page in the footnotes, delectable treats hidden a bit like an almond at the bottom of a bowl of Christmas rice pudding.  In this way, Eric Trozzo’s book Rupturing Eschatology: Divine Glory and the Silence of the Cross serves up dessert. The point that Trozzo wishes to make is this: using the gospel of Mark as a textual basis, the theology of the cross could rather better be understood as a theology of the silence of the cross. In this way, his theology of the cross seems to be a form of a Holy Saturday, an acknowledgment that death is real and abysmal and absurd, and also that there must be something lurking through and in it, even to the degree that we find ourselves throwing ourselves into the abyss in hope of it.  ​​

by bread alone100.jpg

By Bread Alone: The Bible through the Eyes of the Hungry edited by Sheila E. McGinn, Lai Lang, Elizabeth Ngan, and Ahida Calderon-Pilarskie 
   Review by Charles Peterson
It’s hard to imagine questions more important to Lutheran ethics than: “How can the Bible to be experienced as revelatory and transformative?” or “How should reading the scriptures in faith influence the believer’s behavior toward and regard for their neighbor in hunger?”  This collection of essays, the fruit of the Catholic Biblical Association’s Feminist Hermeneutics task force, begins to attempt to answer such questions. As its editors state in their introductory essay, “The basic purpose of all the essays is to help the contemporary, first-world reader develop a different field of vision for the biblical texts—one that sees and hears those who hunger.” ​



© November  2014
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 14, Issue 10

​ ​​