Author: Kaari Reierson

Kaari Reierson is the founding editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics and is the Chair of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics Advisory Council.

Planning for an Epidemic

[1] Confronting the possibility of a worldwide flu pandemic has a way of throwing some of our most enduring health care quandaries into sharp relief. How can we distribute limited resources equitably and morally? How do we balance care for the individual and care for the community when they are in conflict? How much power […]

Editor’s Comments – Preaching the Law

[1] Lately, JLE’s editors have been dreaming up ways of helping parish pastors do their work. This month begins a three-part series related to liturgy, the first of which is on the theme of “Preaching the Law.” Here one might ask the obvious question — why start with preaching the Law? [2] The answer, gentle […]

Review: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Penguin Random House, 2016)

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond || “Evicted has won multiple book awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Its author, sociologist Matthew Desmond, received his doctorate from UW Madison and currently teaches sociology at Princeton. The book centers around several characters and their search for safe, habitable housing, and a pair of landlords making a living by leasing units to low income renters in Milwaukee. Desmond grew up on the fringes of poverty, and when he was an adult his childhood home was repossessed by a bank. He and a friend helped his industrious and frugal parents move out, and it seems that this experience and the shame associated with it impelled his career choice.”

Guest Editorial: Reflections from 45 Years of Ordaining Women

When, during my tenure with JLE, some internet blogger referred to me as the “editrix” of JLE, I was baffled and uneasy. Given the context I was pretty sure it was not intended to be a compliment, and I found the vaguely sexual overtones kind of creepy. A few years Nadia Bolz-Weber named her first book “Pastrix,” and from the definition given on the book jacket I concluded that my intuition was correct. I stand in awe of Pastor Bolz-Weber’s literary acuity, calling women-despisers (misogynists) out and owning their puerile insult all in one bold stroke. ​

Ethics of Inclusion – Statements on Mental Illness and Disability

[1] The ELCA’s church council has approved an ELCA social message on mental illness entitled “The Body of Christ and Mental Illness.” The message seeks to raise awareness of the challenges of mental illness, offer reflection and direction, and inspire action. The message offers a definition of mental illness from the National Institutes of Health, […]

Notes from the Front Lines: Reporting on the 2012 Lutheran Ethicists Gathering

[1] Major David Buffaloe spoke about ethical challenges to soldiers. Much of his training focused on high intensity conflict, but there are many other areas in which a soldier encounters ethical challenges. In his own training at West Point, Buffalo spent a fair amount of time on Michael Walzer’s book Just and Unjust Wars, and […]

Editor’s Introduction – The Challenges of Asymmetrical War to Just War Theory: Conversations between Ethicists and Military Chaplains

The preponderance of the papers in this month comes from the 2012 Lutheran Ethicists Gathering. This year’s gathering was an extremely fruitful conversation between military chaplains and ethicists, focused on the question of “The Challenges of Asymmetrical War to Just War Theory: Conversations between Ethicists and Military Chaplains.” Gilbert Meilaender gave the keynote presentation on facing ambiguity in warfare, David Baer spoke on developments in international law and combatant distinction, Wollom Jensen sought new language for just war, and Stewart Herman spoke to vulnerability in their supporting panel presentations. The report from the conference shows the breadth and depth of the conversation.

Reality Bites Back: We Can Fight Back

[1] If, as I did, you used to have a subscription to People magazine (before I had children and lost all access to leisure time), and watched Real Housewives of Orange County before it became a franchise, this is the book for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve been living under a rock, don’t […]

Editor’s Introduction – Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves: Forming Counter-Cultural Christians in an Age of Consumer Media / Advertising

[1] Viral marketing, product placement, and extensive consumer data gathering enable consumer advertising to reach its tentacles of influence deep into our lives. Disposable income and malleable social identity make youth a desirable demographic for commercial advertising. Unless they have the power to question and resist, youth can be formed into ultimate consumers. [2] Aware […]

Editor’s Introduction

[1] This month is a continuation of the work laid out by Victor Thasiah and Michael Shahan, JLE’s book review editor. The brilliance of this month’s authors and the timeliness of the subject matter I cannot claim for myself. I can only begin in gratitude that Journal of Lutheran Ethics is able to publish fresh, […]

Editor’s Comments – Authority in the Church

[1] Sez You! [2] This well-known playground rejoinder (or am I the only one reading JLE who knows Brooklynese?) doesn’t characterize ecclesiastical disagreements. But it does get at the root of what they are often about. To put it in more refined terms befitting this journal: Who can exercise authority, and how is it properly […]

Editor’s Comments – Authority in the Church, Part II

[1] Welcome to the continuation of the excellent papers presented at the Association of Teaching Theologians. The papers posted this month, still heeding the call to address the theme of authority, are threefold: [2] Darrell Jodock, in Rethinking Authority in the Church Today addresses the nature of authority, the nature of authority in the church, […]


[1] Journal of Lutheran Ethics owes its existence to the forward thinking of John Stumme and to the faithful support of the community of Lutheran ethicists. As I cleaned out my files at churchwide, I found the stub from my first paycheck, two hundred and forty dollars for compiling results from a survey of Lutheran […]

Editor’s Introduction

[1] Last month Melinda Quivik posed the question to readers in her essay: “How do we know what to do?” This month she seeks to “help foster a conversation about both worship and the missio Dei by asking: How does worship form our own identity and our view of others?” [2] Parish pastor Mitchell Jones […]

Editor’s Comments – Liturgical Ethics

[1] Melinda Quivik poses the question to us in her essay: How do we know what to do? Christians look to the liturgy, the work of its people, to find the answers. Confession, praise, prayer, Word, sacrament, and blessing form us even as we decide what musical setting to use and choose (or do not […]

Editors’ Comment to the CORE Responses

[1] Our May issue of Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE) was one of our most-visited in recent memory. One particular article, in fact, was among the most-visited pages on the entire ELCA site for the second week in May. The corresponding number of emails about Jon Pahl’s article on Lutheran CORE in historical perspective has […]

Editor’s Comments – Public or Private?

[1] I remember what a shock it was, when I was pregnant, to find that my body no longer possessed its familiar boundaries between public and private. After I said no thanks to BUN testing and amnio despite my advanced maternal age, the doctor who conducted the ultrasound for my second child clearly thought I […]

Introduction to February 2010: Human Trafficking

[1] The latest atrocious news from Haiti, thanks to a mesmerized CNN (view Child Trafficking in Haiti) seems to be that fears that the countless children orphaned or lost before and during the earthquake are not only at risk from their physical circumstances. They are also at an even greater risk than previously of being […]

Planning for an Epidemic

[1] Confronting the possibility of a worldwide flu pandemic has a way of throwing some of our most enduring health care quandaries into sharp relief. How can we distribute limited resources equitably and morally? How do we balance care for the individual and care for the community when they are in conflict? How much power […]

Introduction to Ordaining Women

[1] In the months leading to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly and the votes on rostering people in lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships, many drew parallels to the decisions in predecessor church bodies to ordain women. What should the biblical basis be for such a decision? What kind of procedure should be required? What kind of assent […]

Response to the Work of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality in 2009

The release of the Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies and the proposed social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust by the Task Force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality has naturally occasioned public comment and public interest. Journal of Lutheran Ethics offers, as its contribution to the public debate, both original essays by Lutheran […]

A Matter of Trust

[1] I couldn’t stop myself even though I knew the interest was purely prurient–I was continually tuning in to awaiting the final blow to Eliot Spitzer’s political career. It’s not just because I’m from NY. I think it’s more knowing of Spitzer’s reputation as a moral crusader, thinking that surely he would run for […]

Giving Thanks for John Stumme

[1] One of my first tasks as associate director for studies was to work with John to research and write what became the ELCA’s message on commercial sexual exploitation. I’d been working at the ELCA all of about three months before I found myself being driven around the seedier parts of Minneapolis by a member […]

On the Fifth Anniversary

[1] Journal of Lutheran Ethics was originally scheduled to be launched on September 15, 2001. The pages were all set to go, only our web editor had a vacation in California in early September. This meant that when airline traffic was shut down after 9/11, he had to make his way back via rental car […]

In Gratitude

[1] First, thanks go to John Stumme. It was his foresight which concluded that there would be a place for an internet journal centered around such a topic as Lutheran ethics. His wisdom and scholarship have guided what is right and good about the journal. All that falls short is my responsibility. My other colleagues […]

Articles related to issues of “Church and State”

Issues of church and state raise their head often in Journal of Lutheran Ethics. Following are some examples from our database of articles which might further develop your thinking: Luther’s Theology and Domestic Politics by George Forell Preaching Justice: The Ethical Vocation of Word and Sacrament Ministry by James Childs American Civil Religion: Destructive, Useless, […]

An Introduction to “Preaching and Politics”

[1] Is it just my jaded perspective, or does it seem when it comes to news coverage of mainline Protestantism, good news is no news? The investigation by the IRS into All Saints Church in Pasadena on the grounds of campaign intervention garnered front-page attention and multiple newswire stories. On the other hand, the letter […]

JLE Portfolio: Sexuality: Law and Gospel

[1] I take some comfort in knowing that the ELCA is by no means unique in its struggle to hear God’s call and find its way when it comes to same-gender committed relationships and ordination, consecration, and commissioning of people in committed same-sex unions. We keep company with many other denominations, not to mention our […]

JLE Portfolio: Conscience and Community

[1] It’s all very fine and good when Luther says “My conscience is captive to the word of God,” and he’s the only one using that particular argument. But what to do when people claim to be conscience-bound to the Scriptures, but with entirely different results? Given that the Task Force for the ELCA Studies […]

JLE Portfolio: On the Release of the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

[1] News reports of the report and recommendations of the task force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality displayed various headlines. “No change” was followed by “Gays Win,” “Tolerate” and “Be Flexible” as news outlets tried to characterize the recommendations. Those unfamiliar with the history of the issue in the ELCA, the present regulations, Lutheran […]

Preface to the November 2004 Issue: The Political Election

[1] Last night I watched a television special in which the commentator compared the candidates in everything from the pathos of their siblings to the way they parted their hair to the breed of the family dog. I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that George W. Bush is a small dog […]

Doping in Athletics: A Conspiracy of Silence

[1] In an event little-noted outside the swimming world, the U.S. women’s 4X200 freestyle relay broke the oldest world record on the books in the Athens Olympics. The 17-year-old mark was set by the team from the German Democratic Republic and was widely viewed as tainted by the East German team’s steroid use. East German […]

A Review of Ordinary Saints: An Introduction to the Christian Life by Dr. Robert Benne

[1] I will not reiterate, not for too long, anyway, my appreciation of Robert Benne’s Ordinary Saints, well-written, sound, and purveyor of the comprehensibly complex. I would certainly recommend the book to some members of my congregation seeking to live faithfully and thoughtfully in a complex and demanding time. [2] The book is heavily flavored […]

Author Roundtable: Perspectives on Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation by John Witte, Jr.

Reformation historians, lawyers, and theologians all find they have a stake in a book such as Law and Protestantism. Here you will find a roundtable populated by reviewers Mary Gaebler, Scott Hendrix, Paul Hinlicky, and Mary Sommar, and aided by law scholar Robert Tuttle and Reformation scholar David Whitford which brings out the particular perspective […]

An Interview with Dennis Gengenbach

[1] JLE: Tell us a little about yourself and your farming operation: how many acres do you farm, what do you produce, what area of the country are you in, how long has this land been in your family? [2] DG: My name is Dennis Gengenbach and I am 54 years old. I have a […]

The Way Things Used to Be: JLE One Year Later

[1] “That is why what America most needs today may be prayer: prayer that God may yet help us, before it is too late, to stop our accelerating slide toward the way things used to be.” Stephen L. Carter, “Reflections on an America Transformed,” The New York Times September 8, 2002 [2] I have, in […]

A Preface to Pastoral Care after Easter

What does this mean? Luther asks this of each of the Ten Commandments, each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed in order to reveal the implications of our articles of faith. We ask this question of Easter Sunday in the context of pastoral care. What does it mean to us that our Lord […]

Forum on Israel and Palestine

On July 3, 2002, JLE brought together a group of scholars to discuss the role of the United States in Israel and Palestine. Participants exchanged e-mails for two hours, exploring the current U.S. policy and the possibilities for future U.S. action. The invited Palestinian participant was unable to join the forum. The discussion, however, was […]

An Interview with George Forell: September 6, 2001

[1] JLE: Why don’t you begin by telling us about your own involvement with Luther and Luther studies. [2] Forell: I could start by saying that I wasn’t really aware that I was a Lutheran when I transferred from Germany to Austria, because I was “evangelisch.” “Evangelisch” meant Lutheran where I came from, because we […]