Author: Nancy Arnison

Nancy Arnison is a lawyer, theologian and nonprofit executive and serves as the Book Review Editor for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. 

Book Review Introduction: April/May 2024

Stewart Herman reviews Jeff Goodell’s The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet through the lens of Lutheran preaching, contrasting Goodell’s approach to that of a Lutheran understanding of vocation.  Thomas Johnston dives into Lutheran notions of vocation from the perspective of formation in his review of Andrew Tucker’s 4D Formation: Exploring Vocation […]

Book Review: Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair by Christian Wiman

[1] Christian Wiman grew up in an evangelical church in Texas, living a dark childhood with “my father vanishing, my mother wracked with rage and faith, my siblings sinking into drugs.” [2] Now a professor teaching religion and literature at Yale Divinity School, he is the author, editor or translator of thirteen books of poetry […]

Book Review: The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation by Rainer Maria Rilke

[1] Holiday seasons are among the most difficult for those in mourning.  Well-meaning platitudes fall short, leaving friends at a loss for words, not knowing how to accompany loved ones engulfed in sorrow or facing death. [2] Letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke from 1907 to 1925 offer an intimate glimpse into the great poet’s understanding […]

Book Review Introduction: February/March 2024

The three books reviewed this month bring additional resources to the theme of this JLE issue. Each book approaches grief and loss from a unique perspective. In The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain and Reclaiming Their Power, Courtney Vance and Robin Smith address suicide in the African American community, offering “practical and culturally […]

Book Review Introduction: December 2023/January 2024

[1] As we enter the Christmas season, Diane Yeager reviews The Magi: Who They Were, How They’ve Been Remembered, and Why They Still Fascinate by Eric Vanden Eykel.  From the history of biblical interpretation to contemporary literature to the covers of Christmas cards, the Magi capture our imagination. Yeager’s review explores Vanden Eykel’s scholarship and concludes […]

Book Review Introduction: August/September 2023

This month we cover recent books that range from the historical to the contemporary in their focus – from Nazi Germany to the current movement to abolish the prison system.  Michael Pickett reviews Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice and the Abolition of Prisons by Joshua Dubler and Vincent Lloyd.  Michael Birkner reviews one of several volumes […]

Editor’s Introduction: Summer Book Review Issue

In this “Summer Books Issue” we include book reviews that consider Christianity and the laws of migration; racism through lenses of science and faith; religion and foreign policy; the emotional and experiential power of theological doctrines; and the value of disruption in the church.  Happy reading!

April/May 2023: Book Editor’s Introduction

As we enter Holy Week, we explore a creative form of book reviewing used by ELCA Pastor Matthew Best who has transformed his book review into blog posts reflecting on each day in Holy Week. The book inspiring his reflections is Jason Porterfield’s Fight Like Jesus: How Jesus Wages Peace Throughout Holy Week.  He posted […]

February/March 2023: Book Review Introduction

[1] The books reviewed in this issue of JLE bring the insights of Luther and Bonhoeffer to contemporary struggles over gendered language for God and the crisis of climate change. In Language for God: A Lutheran Perspective, Mary Streufert offers reasons and resources for embracing multigendered images of God. Reviewer Allen Jorgenson finds that her […]

Book Review Introduction: December 2022/January 2023

[1] Our first book review addresses the power and nature of sermons at times of mass shootings and other national traumas. Chaplain (Colonel–Retired) Ken Sampson reviews When Sorrow Comes—The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter.  The book takes a fascinating historical journey through the types of sermons preached at various times […]

Book Review Introduction: October/November 2022

[1] The two books reviewed in this issue are academic works focused on Luther scholarship. Christine Helmer’s, How Luther Became the Reformer brings a critical lens to the image of Luther as “instigator of modernity.” Critiquing scholarship of the German Luther Renaissance, Helmer argues for a historical perspective that grounds Luther more solidly in late […]

Book Review Editor’s Introduction

Themes of sexuality and hope frame our book reviews this month.   In keeping with the topic of this journal issue, our first review considers sexuality in the context of aging. David Tiede offers a thoughtful and delightful consideration of Christian Faith and Sexuality in Later Life by Jim Childs. Sexuality among elders is a […]

Editor’s Introduction: Book Review Issue 2022

[1] Our first review asks the timely question: How do we “bring Americans together to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen our democratic republic?”  In I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Courageously Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times, journalist Mónica Guzmán urges us to “harness our innate curiosity to break down […]

Book Review Editor’s Introduction: February/March 2022

[1] Our reviews this month cover the latest books by progressive scholar Catherine Keller and Rod Dreher, writer for The American Conservative. Both authors speak of present and looming dangers, and they offer perspectives for moving forward. In Facing Apocalypse (2021), Keller addresses the climate catastrophe and democracy. Returning to the Book of Revelation, a site of her […]

Book Review Introduction: October/November 2021

[1] In this issue, we offer book reviews of three recent publications, the first geared toward families and churches, the second toward academics and the third toward children. [2] The first book, We Carry the Fire by Richard Hoehn, advocates a spirituality defined by action for the common good. Instead of private individual piety, Hoehn argues […]

Editor’s Introduction June/July 2021: Book Review Issue

[1] In a year seized by multiple pandemics, we seek wisdom and courage for the road ahead.  In the words of Rabbi Arthur Waskow, [2] “It is uncanny that the human race as a whole is at the moment struck with a viral disease that attacks most powerfully our ability to breathe.  And uncanny again […]

Book Review Introduction April 2021

[1] Our first review launches a periodic series of reviews covering books reflecting Native American experiences and issues. Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah is reviewed in light of the ELCA’s action and inaction on these matters. The authors address the damaging theology and […]

Book Review Introduction

This month our three book reviews address guns and political beliefs.  The first two books offer insights directly relevant to gun violence and gun control debates.  These books are reviewed by two ELCA pastors living in Montana.  Rev. Jean Larson, who also served as Faith Outreach Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in […]

Editor’s Introduction: Book Review Issue June/July 2020

[1] We begin with a book that, though 30 years old, speaks to our current situation as if it was written yesterday.  Reviewing Parker Palmer’s, The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America’s Public Life, Stewart Herman discovers wisdom for navigating the social isolation of our pandemic era.  More broadly, he finds fruitful insights […]

Book Editor’s Introduction

This issue is published at a time when individuals, families, and communities are experiencing the upending of daily life.  COVID-19 dominates our consciousness as we grapple with its implications for  health, economics and social relations.   These book reviews may offer a brief respite.  They consider big picture theological questions of beauty and creation.  Diane Yeager […]

Review: The Photo Ark, Vanishing: The World’s Most Vulnerable Animals, by Joel Sartore

0 [1] “Do what you love” was Joel Sartore’s message to the Ralston High School graduating Class of 2000.  As a graduate of Ralston High himself, Sartore had returned to share his story about the importance and joy of following one’s dream.  By that time, Sartore was already a National Geographic photographer, so one could imagine that the spark to create […]

Book Review Introduction

In this issue of the journal we highlight four books addressing animals and climate change. Dr. Stephen Crocco, Director of the Library at Yale Divinity School, reviews David Clough’s large two-volume work, On Animals, which brings both systematic theology and theological ethics to bear on the ways Christian human animals live with non-human animals who […]

Book Review Introduction

The works reviewed in this issue approach migration through three different lenses — academic, artistic and activist. Professor Laura Alexander reviews Tisha Rajendra’s Migrants and Citizens: Justice and Responsibility in the Ethics of Immigration (2019). Rajendra addresses questions of political philosophy, arguing that Christian ethical thought can enhance global dialogue on migration and prompt Christians to understand […]

The Ethics of Dialogue and Debate Book Review Editor’s Introduction

The book reviews in this issue carry forward the theme of dialogue found in the essays.  First, Sarah Bereza reviews Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide by Leah D. Schade.  Schade proposes a sermon-dialogue-sermon model for eliciting grace-filled conversations about divisive topics.   Next, we pioneer a new format for a Journal of Lutheran Ethics […]

Editor’s Introduction: Book Review Issue August/September 2019

​ [1] Summer reading is often wide-ranging.  We dip into genres outside our typical work to explore worlds beyond our everyday existence.  This book review issue honors that summertime trend as it explores ethical dimensions in literature, science, Buddhism, and Womanist Sass. [2] Diane Yeager takes us into the world of secular literature through the […]

Journal of Lutheran Ethics Book Review Introduction June/July 2019

[1] 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. [2] 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 […]

Review: Our Planet, Netflix (Narrated by David Attenborough, Produced by Alastair Fothergill)

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.

Book Review Introduction

n 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.

Addressing Hunger and Poverty Today

[1] One billion human beings are hungry today. One billion people do not have enough to eat. The number alone is staggering. But what makes it scandalous is the fact that God’s abundant creation — the fertile earth and seas — can produce adequate nutrition for all. Scarcity is not the problem. The problems (and […]

Review: The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation by Rainer Maria Rilke

Holiday seasons are among the most difficult for those in mourning. Well-meaning platitudes fall short, leaving friends at a loss for words, not knowing how to accompany loved ones engulfed in sorrow or facing death.

Letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke from 1907 to 1925 offer an intimate glimpse into the great poet’s understanding of death and the process of mourning. His letters to bereaved friends address the particularity of individual loss and the great themes of transformation in death and life. This small collection of letters is edited and translated by Ulrich Baer whose own difficult journey through his father’s death was transformed by Rilke’s words.

Editor’s Introduction: Book Review Issue 2018

Themes of theology and culture run throughout this issue, intersecting specifically in treatments of war, moral injury, climate justice, and faith/life formation for adults and children.

This issue begins with a focus on war. Ted Peters offers an essay inspired by Kelly Denton-Borhaug’s War Culture, Sacrifice and Salvation. The ethos and institutions of war have penetrated everyday life in the United States, taking the symbols of Christianity and repurposing them for nationalistic ends. In the process, what Americans consider holy has migrated from the sacred to the secular, from the church to the state. Peters challenges public theology with the task of discerning U.S. war-culture and constructing a prophetic response. This is a wake up call.

500th Anniversary Book Sampling

Editor’s Note: The Journal of Lutheran Ethics welcomes Dr. Nancy Arnison as our new Book Review Editor. [1] A publishing bonanza has accompanied the 500th anniversary of Luther’s “Ninety-five Theses” issued in Wittenberg in October, 2017. This issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics surveys a diverse sampling of these new resources. While future issues […]

American Exceptionalism and International Human Rights

Introduction [1] Thank you for inviting me to join you today to discuss American exceptionalism and international human rights. It is a pleasure to be here. [2] The U.S. repudiation of international human rights legal standards in the post-9/11 “war on terror” has been widely documented, passionately condemned and legally challenged. Torture at Abu Ghraib, […]