Religion and the economy: A theologian challenges ‘status quo’

Book Review

“No Rising Tide. Theology, Economics, and the Future,” by Rev. Dr. Joerg Rieger
Fortress Press, 2009
Paperback,160 pages, $20

Author Joerg Rieger is well known in Dallas for his 10 published books, his scholarship at Southern Methodist University, and his activism with Jobs with Justice and the Workers’ Rights Board. Rieger has worked to form coalitions with church people and union leaders. He recently joined Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller to speak on fighting back against the economic crisis.

In his latest published work, Rieger continues to challenge the idea that Jesus Christ’s teachings must be contorted into support for big business and the “status quo.” He completely turns the tables on economists and political leaders who seem to have appointed themselves high priests of which way is up and which way is down. With aphorisms like “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and “Just let the market do its work,” they try to get Americans to ignore what is really happening.

On an Oct. 19 radio broadcast, Rieger said that many such economists and politicians are substituting “blind faith” for reason, and hoping that the American people will do the same. The new book is not about how theologians use economics, but how economists are using their own brand of blind faith religion in the worst possible way.

“The time is long past for European and U.S. theologians to engage the crisis of current market economies,” says Mark Lewis Taylor, Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. “Theologian Rieger in “No Rising Tide” challenges the market s own fetishes and belief structure, criticizes Christian theology for its complicity in underwriting our economic crisis, but then also mints theology anew for a Christian practice of economic justice. Rieger s book is where Christian theological reflection on the economy must now begin.”