Friday, March 11, 2011
I've just finished Stanley Hauerwas's memoir 'Hannah's Child'. It's a great read. There are many things I liked about it and which I could blog about. His honesty, his theological journey, his acute awareness of the possibility of self-deception, his tragic relationship with his first wife, who was mentally ill, his amazing relationship with his son, the fact that he is a Methodist who almost became a Roman Catholic, who is known as a neo-anabaptist, who now worships at an Episcopal church. But I think the thing that impressed me the most was the fact that he clearly believes that theology matters. That may sound obvious for a theologian, but believe me there are plenty of theologians who see theology purely as an academic discipline. Theology matters because God matters, and not just any old god, or some vague notion of the creator, but the God who is the Father of Jesus Christ.
His theology clearly impacts every area of his life. He explains how he doesn't think of himself as a good 'pray-er'. His wife Paula encouraged him to begin praying before his lectures, so he started writing his prayers down, and if you ask me they're pretty amazing prayers.
Here is one he wrote when their cat, Tuck, died:
'Passionate Lord, by becoming one of us, you revealed your unrelenting desire to have us love you. As we were created for such love, you have made us to love your creation and through such love, such desire, learn to love you. We believe that every love we have you have given us. Tuck's love of us, and our love of him, is a beacon, a participation, in your love of all your creation. We thank you, we sing your praise, for the wonderful life of this cat. His calm, his dignity, his courage, his humor, his needs, his patience, his always "being there," made us better, made our love of one another better, made us better love you. We will miss him. Help us not fear remembering him, confident that the sadness such memory brings is bounded by the joy that Tuck existed and, with us, is part of your glorious creation, a harbinger of your peaceable kingdom. Amen.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Video streaming by Ustream
(H/T Maggi Dawn)
I confess I haven't read much Hauerwas. I've got his Gifford Lectures 'With the Grain of the Universe', but I've never got very far with it. I must admit I used to have him pigeonholed as an idealist, neo-anabaptist with a separatist view of the church (which says more about my ignorance than anything else). I'm also more into biblical studies and biblical theology so I've not got as much time for systematic theologians.
However, I know plenty of people who are into him and he has been called 'America's best theologian' so I thought I'd better check him out. I went to hear him at Greenbelt a couple of times last year and found him utterly compelling. In one session he was reading from his memoir 'Hannah's Child' which he talks about in this clip (and which I've got on order), telling the story of how, as a bricklayer from Texas he entered the world of academic theology. In another he was speaking on 'America's god' which was a devastating critique of American civic religion. Almost everything he says is quotable
Here's some juicy quotes from the above clip:
''god' is a very tricky word, and it's very tricky in our culture because it presupposes that everyone has some generalised presumption that something had to start it all and 'god' names that and that's exactly what I deny, and so the God that I worship is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that's a primary name, more primary than god.'
'Anytime you think you have to protect God, then you can be sure you're worshipping an idol'
'I think people think that if you have a high Christology that that necessarily also implies a socially and politically conservative position...and that people associate those kind of strong theological convictions with the religious right today, and I think the religious right interestingly enough, in this country, is a form of protestantism that is severely threatened by Christian orthodoxy.
'We as worshippers of a God who would save us from our violence by non-violence means that we also are committed to living in the world with a respect for the dignity of our enemies in a way that we cannot think of ourselves, for example, as first and foremost Americans, we have to first and foremost think of ourselves as Christians, which means that oftentimes we are going to appear oftentimes as people who cannot be trusted with the kind of ideology that America represents.'
'freedom is rightly worshipping God'
'What it means to be a Christian is to learn to receive your life as gift without regret.'