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, July 01, 2010

The Quotable Hannah's Child #2

In this second of three posts I continue to highlight excerpts from Stanley Hauerwas' book, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir. Please feel free to comment on any of the quotes below:

For many Catholics, the church just seems so "there." Moreover, many of the Catholics at Notre Dame had never lived outside the Catholic world. They talked constantly of making the church relevant to the world, but they had little idea what the "world" was like. I kept trying to suggest that we Protestants had long made all the mistakes they seemed desperate to copy.

[At Notre Dame] I felt like I was part of an exciting intellectual adventure that might avoid the sterile "liberal" and "conservative" alternatives that seemed to shape the theological world.

Too often it is assumed that medical ethics is, or should be, primarily about what doctors do. But far more important is what kind of people we should be to be patient patients. I fear that patients who are no longer patient in the face of illness and death cannot help but bring expectations to medicine that are corrupting.

Too many people, I fear, become "ethicists" because they do not like theology. I have always been a strong supporter of the Society of Christian Ethics, but the very existence of such a society can be a temptation to separate theology from ethics. I suspect that one of the reasons some of my colleagues in ethics find me hard to take is due to my unrelenting claim that God matters. Not just any God, moreover, but the God that has shown up in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

...the separation of Christian ethics, or moral theology, from theology proper was a reflection of the presuppositions of a liberal social order. The distinction between theology and ethics legitimated the public-private distinction that is at the heart of the liberal project to domesticate strong convictions and, in particular, strong religious convictions.

...reading Barth as I had was preparation for encountering Yoder; but I recognized that Yoder's book [The Politics of Jesus] was not just another position one might consider.. Stanley Fish reports that when he teaches Milton there comes a moment when an undergraduate expresses admiration for Milton's poetry, giving Stanley the opportunity to observe, "Milton does not want your admiration. He wants your soul." Yoder did not want my soul, but he made it clear that Jesus did.

The crucifixion is "the politics of Jesus."

To learn to see the world and ourselves through the eyes of the gospel makes the world profoundly comic. Put differently, if you are a Christian, you have nothing to lose, so you might as well tell the truth.

[We must] see the essential connections between our Eucharistic practice and our commitment not only to feed but to eat with the poor.

...Protestant interpretations of the Old Testament were shaped by anti-Catholic polemics-- that is, Protestants turned Second Temple Judaism into priest-ridden legalism so that Jesus could be Luther.

Stories are important, but that our lives can be and finally must be narrated is a confirmation, a witness, to the contingent character of all that is.

...my task as a theologian is first and foremost to make the connections necessary to articulate clearly what it means to say that what we believe is true.

My worry about metaphysics is but one aspect of my concern about any attempt to provide a shorthand account of what we believe as Christians.

...if the cross and resurrection are real events, then the fulfillment and culmination of God's purposes must be really historic.

...the first task of the church is to make the world the world, not to make the world more just... The world simply cannot be narrated-- the world cannot have a story-- unless a people exist who make the world the world.

Creation is not "back there," though there is a "back there" character to creation. Rather, creation names God's continuing action, God's unrelenting desire for us to want to be loved by that love manifest in Christ's life, death, and resurrection.

Being Christian means that I must try to make sense of my life in the light of the gospel, and so I do not get to determine the truthfulness of my story. Rather, those who live according to the gospel will be the ones to determine where I have been truthful and where I have deceived myself.

...the deepest problem with Constantinianism: in the name of being politically responsible, the church became politically invisible.

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