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Happy Are You Poor

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Happy Are You Poor: The Simple life and Spiritual Freedom

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As an advocate of Gospel poverty, Father Thomas Dubay explores the generally perceived radical notion that addresses the biblical call to poverty in two realms, the religious (or) spiritually realm, and the worldly realm. He endeavors to differentiate between the two, exploring poverty relevant to religious precepts (ideal poverty), and the worldly perception of poverty associated with destitution. He presents a great number of questions throughout the book, undoubtedly designed to lead readers on a journey of intellectual and spiritual exploration of Gospel poverty.

The author begins by exploring the pivotal question, “Who is the vow meant for?” According to Dubay, scripture scholars believe that most New Testament texts that deal with poverty, as an ideal, are meant to be applied to all who follow Christ. He expresses his disagreement with those who exclaim that all such texts apply to everyone, without exception. Dubay contends that sweeping universality cannot be applied because some texts are directed to a comparatively small group who are invited to give up their very property for the kingdom. With the exception of these few texts, he believes that all are meant for all classes and all states in life.

In acknowledging confusion regarding the applicability of gospel poverty, related concepts are examined and a number of questions regarding the very nature of the poverty taught and lived by Jesus, are introduced for consideration:

(1) When Jesus requires that his disciples give up everything they possess, is he demanding that we also embrace the pain and despair of those who suffer as a result of poverty?

(2) Is the Gospel ideal merely a spirit of poverty, an inner detachment or readiness to be separated from material things if love of neighbor or circumstances of life require it?

(3) Does the Evangelical ideal (Gospel poverty) have little or nothing to do with material things?

(4) Is it rather personal relationships, an availability of one’s time, person, or talents?

In the final analysis, the most significant problem relevant to living in poverty would be in the subjective determination of poverty standards. Although Dubay successfully provides the theological and foundational basis for Gospel poverty, the mere existing of so many questions relevant to Gospel poverty may indicate that the rethinking of Gospel teaching might be needed.

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