Editor’s Introduction – Annual Book Review Issue

[1] Summer is here, that wonderful season for working through the stack of books that has piled up over the year or for browsing the catalogs and shelves in search of new titles. It is also time for Journal of Lutheran Ethics’ annual book review issue, and this election year we have several titles pertaining to religion and politics. We are especially happy to feature a conversation on William F. May’s Testing the National Covenant: Fears and Appetites in American Politics, with a review by Jesse Perillo and an extended reflection on the covenantal political ethics of May’s book by Ronald W. Duty. William F. May responds to Duty’s essay by suggesting the challenges and promise of a Lutheran covenantal political ethic. Stewart Herman, whom Duty puts into dialogue with May in his review, joins the conversation, as well, addressing the ways in which the Lutheran tradition might help foster a real sense of covenantal obligation and offering suggestions for restraining the very appetites which May believes undermine truly covenantal political ethics.

[2] This issue also includes reviews of William T. Cavanaugh’s Migrations of the Holy: God, State and the Political Meaning of the Church; James C. Burkee’s controversial history of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict that Changed American Christianity, and Mark Lewis Taylor’s Religion, Politics, and the Christian Right: Post-9/11 Powers and American Empire. Rev. Daniel M. Bell, Jr., Christopher Richmann, and Ryan P. Cumming review each of these, respectively. Regular contributor Rev. Clint Schneckloth also offers his thoughts on missional ethics in his seasonal column for JLE.

[3] This month, we also welcome Dr. James Kenneth Echols as the new Director of Theological Resources and Networks and editor of JLE. Dr. Echols previously served as professor and academic dean of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia before becoming president of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago for 14 years. He brings a wealth of experience to his new role in Theological Discernment in the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA.

[3] JLE will have more book reviews during the remainder of the year, so be sure to keep an eye out in September/October and November/December, when the next issues will be published. If you would like to have your book reviewed, or know of a book that would interest other readers of JLE, please contact the editor. Have a great summer!

Ryan P. Cumming

Ryan P. Cumming, Ph.D. is program director of hunger education for ELCA World Hunger and senior lecturer at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.