Of Lament and Gratitude

[1] In its nine years of publication Journal of Lutheran Ethics has become synonymous with the best characteristics of moral deliberation and an internationally appreciated tool for theological reflection. The Rev. Kaari Reierson, founding editor, has been the single most significant reason for its existence, shape and success. This fact did not preclude the elimination of her position as Associate Director with the Studies Department of Church in Society. That position was swept away in the October 11, 2010 redesign of the ELCA’s churchwide organization, effective immediately.

[2] Such an event is a moment for lament, an often-overlooked resource in Scripture for people of faith. Reduced mission support truly is the bottom line for most of the redesign decisions, though not all of them, and necessarily many excellent staff and programs were swept away. Kaari’s departure from Studies and JLE is a time for lamentation, a seething cry of outrage, anguish, and regret since it demonstrates that hard work does not pay off, excellence goes unrecognized and much in life, even in the church, is deplorably unfair.

[3] It is also a moment for gratitude. This November issue is the last one that Kaari actively helped to shape, but JLE remains her legacy and will bear her stamp for years into the future. Its balance is a tribute to her insistence upon hearing multiple reasonings on an issue. The substantial level of reflection that does not sacrifice accessibility reflects her keen intelligence that never hinted of arrogance. Its timeliness expresses her attentiveness to changing media and cultural developments. Its liveliness mirrors her personal vitality.

[4] The insane commitment to monthly publication amid the strife and demands of the last five years was possible only because of Kaari’s diligence and willingness to sacrifice personal space for the sake of its mission. The journal’s growing reputation as a means for excellent moral deliberation is a tribute to Kaari’s deep understanding of what it means for the ELCA to be a community of moral deliberation dedicated to seeking justice and being a public church. Kaari’s good-bye thoughts to JLE are characteristic too, concise and straightforward. They do not draw attention to her immeasurable contribution or personal situation.

[5] The JLE community, however, will lament Kaari’s departure even as it can give thanks that JLE will continue to be published. It can give thanks, also, that JLE necessarily bears her commitment to excellence and her personal imprint, for which, Kaari, we all are in your debt.

Roger Willer

Rev. Dr. Roger Willer serves as Director for Theological Ethics on the Theological Discernment Team in the Office of the Presiding Bishop. He also serves as Publisher for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.