For Congregational Discussion: Protecting Children: What Is the Role of the ELCA?

FOR CONGREGATIONAL DISCUSSION Please note: Congregations looking to have discussions on child abuse and its prevention might also look to the discussion guide in the December 2023 issue: Each of the essays in this issue might be occasions for a discussion within a congregation that wishes to consider new ways of thinking and new […]

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 […]

New! Journal of Lutheran Ethics: The Podcast, Episode 1

This issue features a first for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics – a new podcast to accompany this month’s articles! Host Rev. Matthew Best talks with Rev. Dr. Craig L. Nessan of Wartburg Theological Seminary about the prevalence of child abuse and the need for the ELCA to become a trauma-informed church. “I want our […]

Editor’s Introduction: Grief, Mourning, and Distress and the Search for Spiritual Care

[1] The Latin word salus, which means salvation, also means health, safety, and security. It is the word from which the English word salve comes. And it is a salve that so many seek. A salve for the souls that are in such dis-ease. Yes, we know that we are saved eschatologically, but right now, […]


The Need for Mourning [1] Recently my aunt died, and I traveled to attend her viewing and funeral. Funeral related travel offers a mix of emotions – sadness over the loss of a loved one, fond memories of my aunt from my youth, and genuine gladness over being able to see family that I don’t […]

The Gift of Spiritual Guidance

 What is a Spiritual Guide?: [1] Spiritual Guides are sometimes called Spiritual Directors, sometimes Spiritual Companions, even the term Spiritual Life Coach is being tried by some of my peers in search for ways to share this gift of holy listening in a culture that does not widely recognize Spiritual Guidance as a modality for […]

For Congregational Discussion: Re-imagining Vocation for a Frustrating, Demoralizing, Changing World

[1] As we deal with the high levels of anxiety and depression in our congregations, we might consider a collective re-visitation of the concept of vocation. To those of us who are academics, pastors, and laity, I ask: what resources do we have from our own fields of expertise to re-invigorate our understanding of our […]

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: The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain And Reclaiming Their Power by Courtney B. Vance and Dr. Robin L. Smith with Charisse Jones

[1] The rise of death by suicide by African Americans is increasingly becoming a prominent topic of discussion in the African American community.  The recent passing of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey, an administrator at Lincoln University, a historically Black university in Missouri, highlights the mental well-being of African American people.[1] Religious communities, social service organizations, […]

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 […]