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Journal of Lutheran Ethics Issue Index: Income Inequality Part II

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Editor's Introduction


Roger Willer, Interim Editor
This June/July issue of the Journal ties up several threads. One of those is marked by the Resolution in loving memory of the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols, who served for several years as JLE’s editor.  As JLE’s “publisher” I claim a moment of privilege as part of that recognition to write a bit more than editors usually do in JLE.  I also tie up a thread here as I finish my stint as guest editor.  The traditional book review issue of August/September also will introduce our new editor.  Read more.



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Luther’s Economic Ethic of Neighbor-love and Its Implications for Economic Life Today – A Gift to the World by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda

"Dear colleagues and friends, the focus for this gathering is vitally important. Addressing harsh economic inequity and seeking to identify and undo the factors that cause it is – I will argue – critical to Christian witness, and therefore is at the heart of what it means to be church in the heritage of Martin Luther. Since this group spent yesterday evening examining realities of economic inequity, I will not begin there except to emphasize that for many people, extreme poverty – especially in the midst of wealth – is brutal, often deadly.  'Poverty,' declared Gandhi 'is the worst form of violence.'  The data about the expanding wealth gap in the United States and around the globe is soul-searing."

Response to Cynthia Moe-Lobeda: On Emphasizing the Communal Dimension of an Economic Ethic of Neighbor Love

  by Willa Swenson-Lengyel

 "Thank you to Cynthia Moe-Lobeda for this thoughtful reflection on Luther and neighbor love within the context of our current economic systems. I agree wholeheartedly with most of her emphases in this essay, and so my brief response here will highlight a couple of aspects of the essay that I think are particularly salient for this conversation and reflect on ways these foci may be expanded further. Most crucially, I want to draw attention to Moe-Lobeda’s focus on collective responses to systemic problems. For instance, she mentions several times the importance of the church’s response, and not merely individual Christians’ responses, to economic ills. Similarly, at the end of the essay she notes the need for a new economy, a transfigured system as a whole, rather than focusing solely on Christians’ role within that system."

Resolution in loving memory of the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols 
  by Cheryl Pero, on behalf of the Conference of International Black Lutherans

"No matter what your trials are, or how big your mountain seems; The Lord is there to see you through; To go to all extremes. So if your cross seems hard to bear, and you know not what to do; The One who loves you most of all will be there to see you through. We, members of the Conference of International Black Lutherans, want the Echols family to know that our hearts are with you as we gather to remember the life of our brother and man of faith, the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols."


Book Review Introduction

Nancy Arnison, Book Review Editor

In this issue our book and resource reviews are focused on climate change.  In an interdisciplinary approach, ethicists review works prompted by science and produced by journalists and a natural historian. Stewart Herman reviews and compares two recent books, The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail (2019) and The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells (2019).  Herman brings an ethicist's eye and a theological lens to these two works on climate change written by journalists.  Read more.

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Review: The End of Ice and The Uninhabitable Earth by Dahr Jamail and David Wallace Wells

Review by Stewart Herman

"How to face up—theologically—to climate change?  And in particular, how to interpret the literature which deploys science to predict the Anthropocene future of our species?  Two Biblical terms come to mind: “spirit” and “apocalyptic”.   “Spirit” is that aspect of our whole selves which, in Reinhold Niebuhr’s concise formula, has the capacity of indefinite transcendence (The Nature and Destiny of Man, I:13).  It is our capacity to reach for, and understand, the whole by which we are enlivened—or crushed.  While our bodies will be overheated by rising temperatures, battered by storms, drowned by floods, and scorched by wildfires, it is our spirits which yearn to grasp the totality of what climate change means for us."

Review by Nancy Arnison

In Stewart Herman’s reviews of The End of Ice and The Uninhabitable Earth he writes of our “spirits yearn[ing] to grasp the totality of what climate change means for us.”  In truth, it is probably ‘ungraspable.’  But we do yearn and we must try.  Our survival depends on it. As we work to study, analyze, theologize, and comprehend this complex planet, our intellects may reach into overdrive.  Feeling overwhelmed, perhaps leaning toward despair, we want to shut down and simply take a walk.  Or (dare I say it?) watch TV.  Paradoxically, today I will recommend TV.  Our Planet, the Netflix series from David Attenborough offers an immersion into the wonders of our planet as well as the perils destroying it.  While stimulating our brains, the documentary’s real brilliance shines forth in its capacity to meld solid science with visual and aural sensory absorption that opens our hearts. We are enveloped in the sights and sounds of a stunning and fragile world that, to-date, still sustains us.

Articles published in the journal reflect the perspectives and thoughts of their authors and not necessarily the theological, ethical, or social stances of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.​

© June/July 2019
​Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 19, Issue 3



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