Issue: September 2001

Volume 1 Number 1

Beginning in a Time of Anguish and Crisis

[1] We begin Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE) in the shadow of the horrendous and shattering events of September 11, 2001. As we planned and prepared for this journal, little did we anticipate the critical historical moment that is now upon us all. Little did we imagine that people everywhere would be struggling through the […]

A Call to End the Cycle of Violence in Israel and Palestine

[1] As the United States considers various responses to the September 11 attacks, including bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks, we, as a nation, should be giving attention to the root causes of terrorism and the anger, fear, and sense of hopelessness that prompt a few to act desperately and violently. [2] All […]

A Christian Realist Approach to the Events of September 11

[1] “I’m a loving person, but I have a job to do,” said the President. His statement reminds one of the famous distinction Luther made when he wrote about the Christian’s calling. He said that if an individual Christian went into the forest and was beset by robbers, he might well not resist and even […]

A Step Into the Private Lives of Stem Cells

[1] In his first nationwide address as president, George W. Bush said that he would allow federal funds to be committed to research on those stem cells already obtained from human embryos “where the life and death decision has already been made.” Significantly, Bush’s first prime time remarks focused not on the tumbling NASDAQ or […]

Can we put the flag back in the Sanctuary?

Church Council Meeting: Wednesday Sept. 19th, 2001 An item not on the agenda: “Can we put the flag back in the Sanctuary?” Pastor (17 months in ministry): “I would counsel against that, but I don’t think we should discuss it now.” [1] In my now-29 months in ministry I have been surprised at the power […]

Deliberation, Holism, and Responsibility: Moral Life in the ELCA

A Special Calling in History [1] In 1998, in a series essay on the 21st century in Atlantic Monthly, Bill McKibben examines the population question and concludes as follows: The bottom-line argument goes like this: The next fifty years are a special time. They will decide how strong and healthy the planet will be for […]

Grieving for the Innocent Lives

[1] I cried for a time, thinking about the horrible deaths of all of the innocent people trapped in the World Trade Center, and of the rescuers who gave their own lives to save others. But as I cried I became increasingly angry, not only at the terrorists, but also at the root cause of […]

Homily at the Ecumenical Center, 17 September, 2001

[1] For many places around the world, being vulnerable to devastating attack is not a new historical experience, 20th century Europe being just one case in point. But we who are Americans have been conditioned throughout our national history to feel our nation is invulnerable to attack, and certainly not by airplanes with “American” or […]

Journey Between Worlds: Economic Globalization and Luther’ God Indwelling Creation

[1] My aims in this essay are two. The first is to expose dangers presented by the model of economic globalization shaping our world today. Secondly, in light of those dangers, I will offer rays of hope for the moral-spiritual power to forge new forms of economic life. As a source of that moral-spiritual power, […]

Luther on the Self: A Work in Progress

[1] Reinhard Hütter has argued eloquently for a double center to Luther’s theology, suggesting that an Enlightenment view of “freedom” has badly distorted our understanding of the law in Luther’s work. George Lindbeck has similarly identified a kind of rabbinic appreciation for the law in Luther’s thinking, especially in his Catechisms, which represent the pastoral […]

Reflections on September 11

[1] Six years ago our church adopted a social statement, “For Peace in God’s World,” intended to reflect the consensus view of how we as a Community for Peace should pursue that goal. As we reflect upon the horrible disaster of September 11, 2001, I believe it would do us all good to re-read that […]

Self Defense?

[1] The American law of self-defense, as a general rule, requires that a defender who kills show that she reasonably feared that she was in imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death. This rule embodies two important understandings consonant with Christian views of human nature and violence. One is implicit in the requirement that […]


[1] Dreadful disasters such as we have just experienced create a renewed sense of solidarity among people. Certainly we have seen our nation come together in prayer, in mourning, in determined resolution, and in many acts of self-giving service on behalf of the victims. What other manifestations of solidarity may we hope for and pray […]

Statement on Apparent Terrorist Attacks by the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA

[1] I am shocked by today’s apparent terrorist attacks upon the people in the Eastern United States. I join with all of you in mourning these enormous human tragedies. Congregations, pastors and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are praying for the comfort of all people affected by these incredible acts. We […]

The Human Question

[1] It was a year ago September during U.S. Senate hearings on embryonic stem cell research. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) took out a blank piece of paper, placed a pencil dot in the center of it, and held it up to Mary Tyler Moore. “This,” he declared, “is the size of the thing we’re talking […]

Three Questions about President Bush’s Embryonic Stem Cell Policy

[1] Tiefel asks three questions of us: What sort of language we should use when speaking of stem cells outside of science, what place does the religious voice have in the public arena in this matter, and how can we speak of the moral ambiguity which has been called to our attention. Three questions about […]

Where Do You Stand? Perspectives on the Ethics of Stem Cell Research

[1] President Bush’s recent decision regarding the government funding of stem cell research illustrated the dilemma we face rather than resolving it. Allowing research to go forward on existing lines of embryonic stem cells acknowledges the concern of many that we pursue the promising possibilities of therapeutic benefits resulting from this research. At the same […]

Whether Lawyers, Too, Can Be Saved

[1] In 1525, Assa von Kram, a professional military officer, asked Martin Luther a question that had been weighing on his conscience: if I want to be a good Christian, do I have to quit my job as a soldier? Assa had good reason to be concerned – didn’t Jesus, after all, say that his […]