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
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 08, 2010

The Quotable Hannah's Child #3

This is the last of three posts highlighting quotes from Stanley Hauerwas' memoir Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir. All are welcome to comment.

I was teaching in a seminary (Duke) created by and dedicated to the continuation of mainstream Protestantism. I saw no reason to bite the hand that was feeding me, but neither did I want to lick it. I was not trying to tear down the liberal Protestant establishment, an unnecessary task in any case. It was doing such a good job of self-destructing. Rather, I was trying to help Christians begin to develop the habits necessary to sustain the church when most people assumed that "being religious" was a good thing only if you did not take it too seriously.

I thought it quite odd that Resident Aliens was received as a radical book. All Will (Willimon) and I did was to suggest that actions as basic as preaching had radical implications. It is not as if we thought we were reinventing Christianity. We assumed the exact opposite. God can even use a church as accommodated as liberal Protestantism. We were trying to remind Christians that, in the words of Peter Maurin, we were sitting on a keg of dynamite.

The ascetic character of the rightful exercise of power is seldom appreciated.

(Methodism's vision), a role enshrined in Methodism of the 1950s, assumed that the church's primary role was to support those who think they run the world. In contrast, I wanted a church capable of reminding those who think they rule the world that they were in the grip of a deep delusion.

...it is quite fascinating to realize that, like Samuel, my life has been shaped by a time of transition. Samuel was caught between the judges and kingship. I am caught between a church that once assumed a kingly role and a church that now awaits an uncertain future.

...ethics is but a name for exposing the practical character of theological speech.

There is a selflessness about the work of editors that I deeply admire. They are seldom credited for the imaginative work they do in order to force authors to see what they should write and how to write more clearly.

...Yoder argued that, until recently, Christians have not assumed that the things we undertake as humans are best considered in terms of what makes them go right. Rather, Christians are people who know what to do when something goes wrong.

One of the things I have learned from John is that the apocalyptic character of our faith in Christ requires that we learn how to recognize how extraordinary the ordinary is.

I do not pretend that I have learned to play the game of Christianity well, but I have certainly played it in good company.

...at sixty I began to realize that death was not just a theoretical possibility-- even for me.

...I have little sympathy with natural theology... that is, as the attempt to prove the existence of God by unencumbered reason.

...to privilege Jesus' cross and resurrection is to make a claim about reality that invites and requires Christians to see the world differently than others.

For the world, time is simply a causal sequence that makes what appears to have happened seem a matter of necessity. "Things just turned out that way." For Christians, however, time is apocalyptic, that is, it concerns the otherness and priority of God's cosmic and historical act through Jesus' singular life.

...Jesus' death and resurrection determine everything, even our understanding of time and of the retrospective narrative of events that we call "history."

Barth, through his own theological speech, provided us with the ongoing training to help us recover the basic grammar that should constitute our lives as Christians, a grammar rooted in the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

I knew we were in deep theological trouble as soon as politicians and commentators made the claim that September 11 had forever changed the world. Most Americans, Christian and non-Christian, quickly concluded that September 11 was a decisive event. That was exactly the problem. For Christians, the decisive change in the world, the apocalyptic event that transformed how all other events are to be understood, occurred in A.D. 33.

It is hard to remember that Jesus did not come to make us safe, but rather he came to make us disciples, citizens of (God's) new age, a kingdom of surprise.

War is impatience. Christians believe that through cross and resurrection we have been given the time to be patient in a world of impatience.

I was with Tommy (Langford) the day before he died. I asked him if he was frightened to die. He said, "No, that would be a philosophical mistake. I do think, however, that I will miss my friends."

Methodism was a reform movement in the Church of England that by accident became a church in America.

I do not speculate what life with God after death might be. I am quite content to leave that up to God.

I hope the story I have told of being Hannah's child makes no sense if the one true God is not fully present in Jesus Christ.


PamBG said...

..at sixty I began to realize that death was not just a theoretical possibility-- even for me.

I'm sorry that it took him until 60. Although I don't know if any of us ever really understands our mortality until and unless we think we are facing imminent death, I think it's only when we know that we will die that we can begin to learn about our freedom in Christ - including the freedom of death. I hope to keep learning to my grave and beyond. Perfect love casts out fear.

Allan R. Bevere said...

For me it was quite early-- when I turned 25. Why, then, I have no idea.