Author: Jon Pahl

Jon Pahl is the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor of the History of Christianity at United Lutheran Seminary.

An Economic Reading of Luther on the Eucharist, or How a Sacramental Economics Made Matter Matter in New Ways

“Our words and practices, including the ways we celebrate Eucharist and the public policies we support and advocate for, have consequences for our broader relationships with matter. If the finite bears the infinite (finitum capax infiniti), then attention to the finite cannot be fleeting or unjust: matter matters. To state my claim even more strongly: violence against the finite is to build the cross anew. Following Schweitzer, there may be tragic choices we must make where “life-willing-life” cannot simply be left to be. Nonviolence is norm but not absolute. But the violence of economic inequality of the scope evident in contemporary U.S. society is contrary to the spirit of the Eucharist. U.S. inequality does real harm to the real presence of Christ. Indeed, global economic inequality, paired with climate change denial, may–if the Earth’s climate changes as rapidly as some scientists now predict, lead to a world with no bread, no wine, no body, no blood.”

“Music Is Prayer:” Reconsidering Secular Music

[1] Historically, as the splendid Thrivent production 500 Years of Lutheran Music demonstrates, Lutherans have been eclectic and creative in our choices of music for liturgy. Recently, however, the choices have seemed to narrow to either “traditional” or “contemporary” music. The former features the organ, a baroque instrument rarely experienced outside of church. The latter […]

A Rejoinder to Robert Benne and Cathy A. Ammlung

[1] Firstly, I am grateful to Robert Benne for plugging my new book, Empire of Sacrifice. I don’t think it’s “brilliant,” but I do think its analysis of religious violence in America sheds some light on Lutheran CORE, and especially its Chapter 4, “Sacrificing Sex.” [2] More substantively, while my essay might appear to Benne […]

A Response to “The Core of Lutheran CORE”

See The Core of Lutheran CORE: American Civil Religion and White Male Backlash by Jon Pahl Ah, how to respond to a rant? Especially by an author (Pahl) who thinks his new book (Empire of Sacrifice) is so brilliant that it provides the analytical key to everything that Lutheran CORE is about. It is so […]

The Core of Lutheran CORE: American Civil Religion and White Male Backlash

You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things…. Do you despise the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to […]

America’s Sister

[1] In the days leading up to having dinner with Sister Helen Prejean, and hearing her speak in public at Princeton University, I made people laugh by telling them that I would really look forward to dinner with Susan Sarandon-who played Sister Helen Prejean in the Hollywood film, Dead Man Walking. However, after conversation with […]

Why Now? Lutherans Join a Mainline Debate

[1] As Lutherans move toward our Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, it may be good to reflect on our historical context. For Lutherans are hardly alone in being driven to debate sexuality over the past decade. Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians–among others–have been rocked by questions about ordaining gays and lesbians and blessing homosexual unions. Why now? […]

Mickey Love at the Magic Kingdom

[1] At the close of the 2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, a video introducing the site of the 2005 Assembly in Orlando invited Lutherans to attend by using images drawn from Walt Disney World. This may have been an innocuous enough bit of marketing. In American popular culture Walt Disney is practically synonymous with “innocence,” and […]