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 […]

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 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 […]

Creation Theology and the Climate Crisis

Introduction[1] [1] The imminent climate crisis makes questions regarding our relationship with the creator and the created reality to which we belong extremely important. It presses us to consider what it means to believe in God, the creator, and what it means to be created in the image of our creator. These questions are pressing, […]

Delighting in our Neighbors  Who are Non-Religious: A Lutheran Theological Proposal

Introduction [1] The Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community at St. Olaf College, which I direct, is charged with articulating why and how Lutheran theology, tradition, and affiliation still matter at an institution like St. Olaf that boasts an increasingly diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. The number of students identifying as Lutheran […]

Taking Responsibility for Interreligious Engagement in Prayer

[1] Interreligious engagement belongs to the same set of activities undertaken by an assembly as gathering offerings for food-shelves, or pleading for the cleaning up of highways.  These activities are often the same thing because a somewhat ordinary kind of interreligious engagement takes place in the interaction of many peoples to redress problems they share.  […]

April/May 2023: For Congregational Discussion

[1] As the ELCA urges congregations to host  open discussions on issues such as gun violence prevention, the following discussion guide gives readers a list of questions to discuss as a group after looking together at the “Notes from the Discussion” in this issue. [2] Considering the nine ideas generated at the Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering, […]

Editor’s Introduction: October/November 2022 What Does It Mean To Be Church Now?

[1] I remember sitting with tens of thousands of Luther Leaguers in San Antonio in 1988 at the National Lutheran Youth Gathering as we all sang together “The church is not a building where people come to pray, it’s not made out of sticks and stones, it’s not made out of clay.  We are the […]

Transformative Theologizing

Theologizing is an ongoing, transforming process in the world.. [1] In the 1970s, I decided to work on a Ph.D. in Theology, even though my interests were pulling me into Ethics. Back then, Lutheran Ethics was seen by many as an oxymoron; Lutherans believe “God does it all; we don’t.” Because I wanted to be […]

The Church’s Faithful Responses to Conspiracy Theories – The Modern Gnosticism

[1] Over 20 years ago I worked on Capitol Hill for a Member of Congress.  We would receive letters, phone calls, and emails about an assortment of issues.  And we were required to send a response to every correspondence we received.  Most of the time, those responses contained information or a constituent’s opinions about up-coming […]