Theology professor wins award for book on wealth and poverty

June 25, 2018


Bellarmine University theology professor Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty's book on poverty and the growing wealth divide won first place in The Catholic Press Association’s 2018 Book Awards for Catholic Social Teaching. Her book, “The Problem of Wealth: A Christian Response to a Culture of Affluence” (Orbis 2017), explores how the current dominant forms of wealth creation arguably create poverty.

hinsonhastybookcoverHinson-Hasty's book emerged from her work in social ministry and her research as a consultant for the World Council of Churches' Poverty, Wealth and Ecology project. In the book, Hinson-Hasty reframes the discussion about poverty and the growing wealth divide by approaching the issue from a theological rather than a market-driven perspective. 

"People of faith are uniquely situated to draw upon sacred stories, traditions, rituals and confessional statements of their communities in ways that challenge our society's hyperindividualism and market idolatry," she said. "That approach invites an alternative social logic, informed by a much richer picture of human beings and our limits as we live in symbiotic relationship with the larger delicate web of life."  

She explores eco-centric and theocentric perspectives such as Christian concepts of Social Trinity, Native American ideas of reciprocity and spatiality, Jewish sabbath practice, Islamic banking and Buddhist economics. The book offers a fresh perspective by taking an ecumenical and interfaith approach and includes a number of resources related to the large witness of faith communities for economic justice. She focuses specifically on the role of the middle class in creating change.

Recently, JustFaith, an intensive, small-group process for faithful Christians looking to deepen their commitment to care for vulnerable people and our planet, adopted “The Problem of Wealth” for their 2018-2019 program and will use it across the U.S.

Books considered for the award were ones that engage contemporary social justice concerns within the context of faith and the gospel within the context of society.  

"I am deeply honored by the first place award from the Catholic Press Association and the value they see in reframing debates about poverty and the growing wealth divide in terms of the problem of wealth," said Hinson-Hasty. "My hope now is that more people will be inspired to act in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable and frame the right questions to eliminate poverty within their own contexts."

Hinson-Hasty is professor and chair of the department of theology at Bellarmine. She is the author of “Beyond the Social Maze” (Bloomsbury T&T Clark) and “Dorothy Day for Armchair Theologians” (Westminster John Knox). A 2010 Fulbright Scholar, she has also served as a research consultant for the World Council of Churches’ hearings on Poverty, Wealth and Ecology, and received Bellarmine’s Wilson Wyatt Faculty Fellowship for excellence in teaching and scholarship.

Read a review of the book or learn more about the Catholic Press Association Book Awards.

Article by Jim Welp, assistant vice president for communications and public affairs.

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