A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Quotable Hannah's Child #1

I recently finished reading Stanley Hauerwas' latest book, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir. It is an excellent read with a mixture of confession, humor, profound theological analysis, and yes, a little profanity here and there (no surprise for those who know Stanley).

Instead of putting forward my own review of the book, I have decided to quote some of the more memorable portions of the text. This post is the first of three in a series. As always, Stanley's words can inspire, provoke reflection, and can also cause irritation. Feel free to comment on any of the quotes given below:

Charles Taylor has characterized "our age" as one of "exclusive humanism." God is a "hypothesis" most people no longer need-- and "most people" includes those who say they believe in God.

Of course, we will all be forgotten someday. We are dust and to dust we shall return. But we believe that God desires each one of us to be his friend.

Jesus is clear that his kingdom is constituted by those who are meek and gentle-- that is, by those who have learned to live without protection. Gentleness is given to those who have learned that God will not have his kingdom triumph through the violence of this world, for such a triumph came through the meekness of a cross.

[At Yale] I was introduced early on to the revolutionary idea that we might again learn to read the Scripture theologically by attending to how the [Church] Fathers read the Bible.

God does not need to "intervene" in creation because creation is charged with the character of Christ. I was beginning to understand that learning to speak Christian is an invitation to see the magical wonder of existence.

...questions surrounding how to understand the person and work of Christ are integrally related to our understanding of what it means for us to be human.

...I learned from Kierkegaard that the truth of practical reason is Christ, and thus practical reason cannot be constrained by the accommodated form of the church identified with Christendom.

We thought we were activists. We thought we were the embodiment of the kind of politics Reinhold Niebuhr's work envisaged. We had a lot to learn; and what we had to learn politically, I discovered, had significant theological implications. I suspect that learning the limits of pluralistic politics may have prepared me to read John Howard Yoder.

That many theologians think they need to have a position is, I suspect, the result of the loss of ecclesial identities.

Positions too easily tempt us to think that we Christians need a theory. I am not a pacifist because of a theory. I am a pacifist because John Howard Yoder convinced me that nonviolence and Christianity are inseparable.

I left Yale in 1968. Yale exploded in 1969. I did not know what to make of the explosion or of the alleged revolution associated with Woodstock. The latter seemed to me indulgent. I was from the working class. I wondered where people got the money or the time to do nothing but listen to music and smoke dope. Did they not have to work for a living? I also thought it rather odd to protest the war by getting high and screwing.

It never occurred to me that I might get into trouble by saying what I took to be the truth in a faculty meeting. Moreover, I thought universities were places where you told one another the truth.... I had much to learn.

...although the realm of politics is important, it is a poor place to discover the significance of one's life.

I began to think that [Reinhold] Niebuhr had seduced me-- and "seduction" is exactly the right word-- to assume that the way things are is the way things have to be. In truth, I did not know how to go on if in fact Niebuhr needed to be left behind, but at least I was beginning to think... interest-group liberalism... was a mistake.

The sad reality is that, for many of us, where we went to graduate school was more important than our ecclesial identification. I am not sure I would have understood the significance of this fact if I had not been given the opportunity to teach at Notre Dame for fourteen years.

Theology gain[s] its intelligibility as a discipline of the church without being any less a university subject.

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