Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality  book cover
1st Edition

Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality

ISBN 9781315413532
Published December 22, 2017 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality brings together a diverse group of scholars, activists and public intellectuals to consider one of the most pressing issues of our time: increasing inequalities of income and wealth that grate against justice and erode the bonds that hold society together. The contributors think through different religious traditions to understand and address inequality. They make practical proposals in relation to concrete situations like mass incarceration and sweatshops. They also explore the inner experience of life in a society marked by inequality, tracing the contours of stress, hopelessness and a restless lack of contentment. This book honors the work of Jon P. Gunnemann, who has been a leading scholar at the intersections of religion and economics.

Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students and scholars of religion and economics. It will be useful to policy-makers and activists seeking a more thorough understanding of the role of religion and theology in public life.

Table of Contents



Robert P. Jones and Ted A. Smith


Thinking with Traditions

Chapter 1: The Little Commonwealth: The Family as Matrix of Markets and Morality in Early Protestantism

John Witte, Jr. and Justin J. Latterell

Chapter 2: When Ancient Teachings Meet Modern Problems: Jewish Approaches to Poverty, Inequality, and the Market

William A. Galston

Chapter 3: Election, Selection, and Distinction: Paradoxes of Grace, Clan, and Class

Timothy P. Jackson

Chapter 4: Pope Francis, Catholic Social Thought, and the Rejection of Fear

E.J. Dionne, Jr.


Moral Sentiments

Chapter 5: More Than Enough: Contentment and the Dominance of the Economic Sphere

Christine D. Pohl

Chapter 6: Stress

Julie Meadows

Chapter 7: Riots and Rip-Offs in Baltimore: Toward a Theology of Hopelessness

Miguel A. De La Torre


For the Love of the World

Chapter 8: Wasting Human Lives: Hyper-Incarceration in the United States

Elizabeth M. Bounds

Chapter 9: Challenging a New Frontier of Market Morality: The Case of Sweatshop Economics

Keri Day


Chapter 10: Wage Against the Machine: Wage Activism, Worker Justice, and Disruptive Jesus in the Age of Advanced Capitalism

C. Melissa Snarr

Chapter 11: Speak Up, Judge Righteously, Stand with the Poor: The Jewish Imperative for Social Justice

Jonah Dov Pesner


Public Theology and the Common Good

Chapter 12: America, Land of the Free and Home of the Poor: Inequality as a Way of Life

Darryl M. Trimiew

Chapter 13: The Integrity of the Church in a Divided Society

Steven M. Tipton


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Robert P. Jones is the founding CEO of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), based in Washington, DC. He previously served as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Missouri State University, USA.

Ted A. Smith is Associate Professor of Preaching and Ethics at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, USA.


This remarkable, timely, and forward-looking collection is much more than a theoretical analysis of why religious ethics should be opposed to great wealth disparities. It offers an astute, fact-based, and fast-paced diagnosis of the often misunderstood factors that drive inequality in the U.S, including the global financial system, race, class, and gender. Authors not only respond with creative theological proposals, they identify practical and effective types of resistance available to religious activists, faith traditions, and faith-based organizations. This is a scholarly book, a hopeful one, and a sure inspiration to anyone seeking a progressive religious politics that can actually get the job done. Lisa Cahill, Boston College, USA. 


This volume is a true testament to Jon Gunnemann as it makes clear that our theologies and faith claims are morally consequential. The thinkers make clear that there is no neutral ground: our theological and faith traditions are implicated in fostering economic injustice and inequality even when they may compel us to advocate for a more just society. When I picked up this book I expected an academic treatment of the relationship between economic theories and theological doctrines. Instead, from the opening page I was at once indicted and inspired by  a moral conversation concerning the inextricable relationship between theology and economic injustice as well as the absolute imperative for faith communities to do something about it. A book that I thought would be hard to read, was one I found hard to put down. Reverend Kelly Brown Douglas, Episcopal Divinity School at Union, USA.