Author: Stewart Herman

Stewart W. Herman is a visiting fellow at the Christensen Center on Vocation at Augsburg University, after having retired from the religion department of Concordia College in 2015.  His Durable Goods (University of Notre Dame, 1997) offers a covenantal account of the relation between management and employees.

Book Review: The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell

[1] On the jacket, Al Gore calls this book “entertaining”—which stunned me.  Al, didn’t you rattle our cages fifteen years ago—inconveniently!—to the dangers of climate change?  So what are you thinking now?  Should we be seeking to be entertained when reading about extreme heat, which kills almost half a million people a year worldwide—twice as […]

‘Covenant’ as a Biblical Anchor: Some thoughts for the upcoming Social Statement on Government and Civic Obligation

Currently, the Task Force on Government and Civic Engagement is beginning the process of creating a social statement on faith and civic life.   The Journal of Lutheran Ethics has invited short pieces from ethicists on this subject for the December 2022 issue.  To start this process, Stewart Herman has offered the following which also fits […]

Book Review: The Generative Power of Hope: Anticipating Possibilities in Times of Crises

This past Pentecost, my pastor announced the imminent transformation of the world, with the elimination of all oppression.  I’d call it “skylight” hope—the light that comes from above, into the domes of our minds, reminding us of God’s ultimate sovereignty over history.  Biblically, it is rooted in the Magnificat and in the “new heaven and […]

Review: The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D. Putnam, with Shaylyn Romney Garrett. 

[1] Where do you pin your hope for the future of democratic self-governance in the US, particularly in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol?  Hope is indispensable to faithful living and enjoys a primary role in Lutheran theology.  Yet in these broken times, any hope about the future of American democracy […]

Review: The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America’s Public Life, by Parker J. Palmer

[1] Parker Palmer is familiar to educators as a beacon of hope and courage.  His 1998 Courage to Teach articulated the dignity and even nobility of the profession to young instructors like me.  His 2000 Let Your Life Speak fearlessly recounted his own struggles to sustain a sense of meaning in his life.  Yet his 1981 The Company of Strangers might be […]

Review: The End of Ice and The Uninhabitable Earth

“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: Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice (Fortress Press, 2017)

Asked to review Sharon Delgado’s Love in a Time of Climate Change, I was not impressed when flipping through it for the first time. The usual politically progressive boxes seem to have been checked off: Biblical interpretation centering on creation themes, catalogues of the scary impacts of climate change, an indictment of the fossil-fuel industry and western economic development generally, a sacramental view of nature, a celebration of indigenous wisdom, and of course, copious suggestions for action, both personal and political. Delgado appears to be ringing the expected changes for an audience she knows well from her decades of activism. But I wondered if there is anything to set her book apart as a noteworthy contribution to the budding ethics literature on climate change?

Punitive Justice in War: Sounding out the 1995 ELCA Social Statement

The ELCA social statement For Peace in God’s World​ provides a moral framework for evaluating the relationship between war and justice. ​Herman explores if the statement is theologically deep enough to grapple with modern warfare, which looks very different now than it did twenty years ago when the statement was adopted. Using Nigel Biggar’s In Defence of War​, Herman looks at just war theory and how it applies our political and moral landscape today.

Resources for the struggle against fear and appetite

[1] Ron Duty begins his review essay with a fine exposition of major portions of William May’s argument in Testing the National Covenant, so I will not cover that ground. Nor will I engage Duty’s (mild) critique of May’s analysis. Since Duty is a political scientist by training, it is not surprising that he focuses […]

Of What Moral Value Is Vulnerability in the Conduct of Asymmetric Warfare?

[1] Asymmetric warfare involves, by definition, conflict between weaker and stronger antagonists—strength here as denominated in the quantity of material resources and the quality of technological sophistication that can be brought to bear against the enemy. The strong—the United States, preeminently—are tempted to deploy overwhelming force against opponents who lack the capacity to respond in […]

The Jebeliya: Reflections on Development

1] This past May, six students and I experienced some Middle Eastern “development” in the raw.1 Under a vividly blue, sheltering, desert sky, we worked with local residents to build a small dam not far from Mt. Sinai. All was done by camel and by hand — carrying boulders, scooping sand, mixing mortar, and carrying […]

Our Moral Obligation to Iraq? We Need to Know What the Iraqis Think

[1] One striking feature of the continuing U.S. debate about the Iraq War is that the Iraqi civilian victims are absent from the discussion. We-the U.S. voting public-simply don’t know very much about what they want, and particularly what they want from us. We occasionally hear the cries of victims in news reports, and often […]

How Character is Shaped: Drawing (Tentative) Connections Between Business Ethics and the Bible

[1] Very broadly speaking, there are two basic ways of doing ethics in the trenches of the business world. The first is aimed at compliance-ensuring that corporate policies meet legal standards, that executives and employees are adequately informed about those policies and trained to comply with them in their work. Along this tangent, ethics officers […]


[1] I worked with John Stumme only since 1999, during the six years that I was on what until recently was called the Division for Church in Society board. Our biannual meetings gave me brief but striking glimpses into the workings of the Division, with its overwhelming polyphony of projects and agendas. Add to this […]

Three Challenges to Lutheran Ethics

[1] During discussions by JLE’s editorial council this past summer, I rashly suggested that contributors to this focus section might want to articulate one global challenge, one local challenge and a hermeneutic challenge to Lutheran ethics. Swallowing my own medicine, therefore, let me identify three such challenges from the admittedly limited vantage point of the […]

Turn Abu Ghraib Inside Out?

[1] In the July 2004 issue of the Lutheran, John Hoffmeyer, a theologian at the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia, comments on the Abu Ghraib scandal by posing a quandary of the sort that ethicists used to love: what if by torturing one person you might extract information that would prevent a major terrorist attack? Hoffmeyer […]

Reviews of Durable Goods

This review, originally published in and © Markets and Morality (Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 278-280), is available from Journal of Lutheran Ethics through a link to the Markets and Morality website. To read the article in HTML format, please use the following link: [ View article ] (McCann) This article, originally published and © […]

Is Just-War Reasoning a Helpful Tool for Evaluating Bush’ Bluff (?) towards Iraq?

In the wake of the January 10, 2003 Society of Christian Ethics plenary session on Iraq, I’d like to follow up some disturbingly fruitful comments made from the floor by Charles Matthews of the University of Virginia. If I heard Matthews correctly, the Bush administration may be bluffing its way towards resolving the crisis without […]