Editor’s Introduction: Living in the Shadow of Empire

Once a year members of the Lutheran Ethicist Network convene around a program relevant to the intersections of church and society. This year they met in Toronto, Canada exploring the meaning today of vulnerability and security. More specifically, the title of the event was: “The Meaning of Vulnerability and Security Today in the Light of Global Realities: Living in the Shadow of Empire.” The present issue of JLE makes available to readers a partial but probing sample from the substance of the Gathering.

JLE is pleased to make available in written form a major portion of the Gathering’s powerful key note by Bishop Mark MacDonald. He is the National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the North American President for the World Council of Churches. He has lived on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border and has played a leading role in efforts at reconciliation with the first peoples of the North American continent, particularly in Canada. His essay is a theological probing of “Empire” as a spiritual reality, that is, a probing of how the power of empire affects human beings at the deepest levels. He presents for us an honest picture of the church’s complicity in the manifestation of Empire’s evil, but also, in authentic prophetic spirit, invites the churches to join in the efforts of reconciliation in order to bring about healing.

The second essay, “Vulnerability, Security, Empire, and Confronting Racism: Inspirations from the 2016 Lutheran Ethicists Gathering,” shares the reflections of one participant at the Gathering, Ph.D. student Iren Reye. She gives readers an inside look at the different themes and lectures that were part of the gathering and connects those with the present moment that the ELCA is living. She connects those with this moment of being challenged by a wide variety of complex intersecting issues of racial, economic and social justice. Reye celebrates the church’s willingness to address such complicated yet relevant issue with the seriousness that it deserves.

Carmelo Santos


Carmelo Santos

​Carmelo Santos, Ph.D., serves as associate pastor at St. Mark’s (San Marcos) Lutheran Church in Springfield, VA. He is also a lecturer at Georgetown University.