John Hart

Professor of Christian Ethics
(617) 353-3032
B.A. Marist College
S.T.M. Union Theological Seminary
M.Phil. Union Theological Seminary
Ph.D. Union Theological Seminary

Dr. Hart’s teaching interests are in the areas of social ethics, environmental ethics, liberation theology and ethics, and science and Christianity. His research interests and writing are focused particularly on issues of social and ecological justice, and on ecology as a bridge between science and religion. Internationally known for his work in social ethics and environmental ethics, he has given almost two hundred presentations, on four continents: in twenty-five U.S. states and in Canada, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, Nepal and England.

Dr. Hart promotes environmental care, and relates the religious and environmental communities. He served as editor and principal writer of the Midwestern Catholic bishops’ land pastoral, Strangers and Guests: Toward Community in the Heartland (1980); wrote the draft of Pope John Paul II’s Iowa homily on land stewardship (1979); and was the Project Writer for the Western U.S. and Canada Catholic bishops’ bioregional pastoral letter, The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good (2001), on the ethics, economics and ecology of the region. He has been involved in the development and dissemination of the Earth Charter. He serves on the Board of Directors of both the Montana Wilderness Association and the Montana Environmental Information Center.

Dr. Hart has worked with native peoples’ spiritual leaders and human rights activists, including as a Member of the Delegation of the International Indian Treaty Council (a Non-Governmental Organization accredited to the United Nations) to the U.N. International Human Rights Commission, Geneva, Switzerland (1987, 1990), and as an invited Observer at the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil while participating in the United Nations Earth Summit (1992).


Encountering ETI: Aliens in Avatar and the Americas. (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, Wipf & Stock, 2014)

Cosmic Commons: Spirit, Science, and Space. (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, Wipf & Stock, 2013)

Sacramental Commons: Christian Ecological Ethics, for the series “Nature’s Meaning” ed. Roger Gottlieb. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) in press.

What Are They Saying About…Environmental Theology? (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004)

Ethics and Technology: Innovation and Transformation in Community Contexts (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1997)

The Spirit of the Earth — A Theology of the Land (Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press, 1984)

Chapters in Edited Works

“Catholicism,” in the Handbook of Religion and Ecology, ed. Roger Gottlieb. Oxford University Press, 2006; in press.

“Jubilee and New Jubilee: Values and Visions for the Land” in Charles Blatz, ed., Ethics and Agriculture (Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press, 1991)

“Para um Jubileu Novo” in Alfredo Ferro Medina, ed., A Teologia se Fez Terra (São Leopoldo, Brazil: Editora Sinodal, 1991)

“Is Capitalism Consistent With Catholic Theology And Family Farming?” in Gary Comstock, ed., Is There A Conspiracy Against Family Farmers? – Agricultural Economics, Public Policy And Catholic Theology, USF Monographs in Religion and Public Policy No. 5 (Tampa, FL: University of South Florida Press, 1990)

“Jubilee and New Jubilee” in David Dybiec, ed., Slippin’ Away: The Loss of Black-Owned Farms [“Proceedings of the Home Mission Forum, Owensboro, KY” (Atlanta, GA: Glenmary Research Center, May, 1988)]

“Land, Theology and the Future” in Bernard F. Evans and Gregory D. Cusack, eds., Theology of the Land (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1987)

“ The Church and Land Reform” in Charles Geisler and Frank Popper, eds., Land Reform, American Style (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allenheld, 1984)

Books in Process

  • Sacred Cosmos, Sacred Commons – Spirit, Science and Nature
  • Spirit on the Mountain – Meditations

Published Essays and Articles

“Science and Social Consciousness” Catholic News Service “Faith Alive” invited essay, print version and on the CNS web site, Spring 2005

“Bread of Life, Bread for Life” Catholic News Service “Faith Alive” invited essay, print version and on the CNS web site, Summer 2005

“A Prophetic Challenge: Care for Creation,” Catholic News Service “Faith Alive” invited essay, printed and on the CNS web site, October, 2003

“Sustaining the Sacramental Commons,” Dialog–A Journal of Theology, Vol. 42:3, Fall, 2003

“Ethics and the Environment,” interview with Kristin Shrader-Frechette (University of Notre Dame) at Oxford University, in Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology Vol. 3, No.11/12, Jul/Aug 2003 2003: 6-7

“Living Water: A Sacramental Commons,” Catholic Rural Life, Vol. 45, Number 2, Spring, 2003, 4-11

“Discussing Nature’s Diversity–A Conversation with Holmes Rolston,” interview with Holmes Rolston, III (Colorado State University) at Oxford University, in Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, Apr 2003 Vol. 3, No. 8; 3,27

“Salmon and Social Ethics: Relational Consciousness in the Web of Life,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Vol. 22, Fall, 2002

“Caring for the Commons: Creation, Church and Community,” New Theology Review–An American Catholic Journal for Ministry, Vol. 15, No. 3, Aug, 2002

“Ecology, Christianity and the Future of Creation – A Conversation with Keith Ward,” interview with Keith Ward (Regius Professor of Theology, Oxford), in Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, July/Aug 2002, Vol. 2, No. 11/12, 14-16.

“Spirit and Ecology,” in Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, July/Aug 2002, Vol. 2, No. 11/12, 36

“The Columbia River pastoral letter,” Catholic News Service “Faith Alive” invited essay, printed and on the CNS web site, May, 2002

“Care for Creation, Community and the Common Good: Catholic Social Teaching on the Environment,” Josephinum Journal of Theology, Vol. 9, no. 1, Winter/Spring, 2002

“A Jubilee for a New Millennium: Justice for Earth and for Peoples of the Land,” Catholic Rural Life, vol. 43, no. 2, Spring, 2001, 22-31

“Caring for Creation: Church Teachings on Environmental Responsibility,” The Critic–A Journal of American Catholic Culture, vol. 50, no. 1, Fall, 1995

“ Orchids, Eagles and Natural Rights,” Horizons, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Summer, 1994

“Indigenous rights, land and nature,” Christianity and Crisis, Feb 1, 1993

“Indigenous Voices from the Earth Summit,” New World Outlook, Jan/Feb 1993 (cover story, with author’s photos)

“Report from Rio,” New World Outlook, Sep/Oct 1992 (with author’s photos, including magazine front cover)

“New Vision, New Project, New Creation,” The Catholic World, Jun/Jul 1990

“The Church’s Role in the Rural Crisis,” Rural Roots, Sept/Oct 1988

“Creation in Crisis: Reflection on a New Jubilee,” Sisters Today, Mar 1988

“The New Jubilee,” Catholic Rural Life, Jul 1987

“Crisis on Big Mountain,” New World Outlook (cover story), Feb 1987

“Natural Creation — Encountering the Spirit,” Living Faith (cover essay), Oregon Catholic Press, vol. 1, no. 12, 1986

“Re-Imagining Use of the Land,” Praying, Sept/Oct 1986

“ How Agribusiness Is Destroying Agriculture,” Utne Reader, Aug/Sept 1985

“Crisis on the Land: Agribusiness vs. Agriculture,” Christianity & Crisis (cover story), Apr 19, 1985

Book Review: William V. Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England (Hill & Wang, 1984), in New World Outlook, June 1985

“The Prayer of the Earth,” Praying, Aug 1984

“‘Strangers and Guests’: A Statement on God’s Land,” Catholic Rural Life, Apr/May 1980

“John Paul and the Rural Americas,” New World Outlook, Feb 1980

“The Land and the Church,” Catholic Rural Life, Nov 1979

“A New Jubilee” [with Bishop Maurice Dingman], National Catholic Reporter, Oct 5, 1979

“Americas ‘vanishing farmers’ await Pope’s advice,” Boston Herald-American, Oct 4, 1979

Encyclopedia Articles

“ Phillip Deere”; “Pliny Fisk”; “David Sohappy”; “The World Conference of Indigenous Peoples”; “Indigenous Voices from Kari Oca”; “The Columbia River Pastoral Letter Project”; and “Sacramental Universe, Sacramental Commons” in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (Continuum, 2005).

“Black Elk” and “Native American Religions” in the Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Religion (MacMillan Reference, 2000).

Other Writings

Project Writer for the Columbia River Pastoral Letter Project, to develop the bioregional/international pastoral letter on the ethics, ecology and economics of the Columbia River Watershed, which was issued by the Catholic bishops of dioceses in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in the U.S., and Nelson, B.C., Canada, on January 8, 2001

Author of the draft of the document “Caring in Creation” issued by the Montana Association of Churches, October, 1997

Co-author, “Declaration on Distortions of the Gospel” (an affirmation of the universal love of God for all peoples; a response to the activities of hate groups in Montana), prepared by the Faith and Order Commission of the Montana Association of Churches, adopted and issued by the General Assembly of the Montana Association of Churches, Oct 29, 1996

Editor and writer, oral and written interventions (for the United Nations Archives) from Delegates of the International Indian Treaty Council, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), to the United Nations International Human Rights Commission, Geneva, Switzerland, 1987, 1990

Author, draft of the document on “Social Issues,” issued by the Diocese of Helena Synod, 1988

Editor and principal writer of Strangers and Guests: Toward Community in the Heartland — A Regional Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Land Issues (Des Moines, IA: National Catholic Rural Life Conference, May 1, 1980), signed by the 70 Midwestern Catholic bishops of a 12-state area

Writer of the draft for Pope John Paul II’s homily in rural America, Living History Farms, Des Moines IA, Oct 4, 1979

Editor and principal author of the Declaration of Dependence on the Land, a statement issued by farm, ranch, environmental and Native American leaders (Rapid City, SD: Black Hills Alliance, Jul 1980)

Editor, Rural Ministry in the Eighties — Reflections from Colloquium ‘79 (Des Moines, IA: Rural Ministry Institute, 1979)