When approached about finding contributors to the Journal of Lutheran Ethics around a topic which was and remains particularly relevant to millennials, student debt emerged as perhaps the most important distinguishing criteria setting this generation apart from predecessor generations. Sure, many theological topics remain high priorities in the life and witness of most millennials, yet there remains a deep concern about the sustainability of these priorities given the immense debt that so many have accrued. I will be the first to recognize that I am not a financial expert, nor a person particularly fraught with debt myself. As I remind myself, this is not my own doing, it remains a gift from God. With that quite Lutheran recognition, I found two lenses that should be helpful in discerning this topic—though I recognize this topic is not new to many.
The first contribution, graciously authored by Melissa Powell, is written from the practical lens of the Financial Aid office at Trinity Lutheran Seminary . Her contribution recognizes the prospect of having honest conversations around the topic of personal finances, which she recognizes is not always the easiest conversation to have. She offers an insightful look into some common sense ways of preventing debt from standing as a barrier to a professional vocation.
The second contribution is more academic in scope and lends the unique voice of Dr. David Pfrimmer, Director of Public Ethics and Co-Director for the Center of Public Ethics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary . His contribution outlines the life-altering sacrifices that incurring student debt produces for many millenials. But he goes further than just diagnosing the problem, he offers ethical criteria from which honest conversation may proceed.
I thank the wisdom shared in these articles, as well as the timely consideration this topic welcomes. I hope they will be a helpful resource for those interested in finding solutions to this difficult problem
Brandon Huston is an M.Div. Candidate at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.