Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stanley Hauerwas in Conversation

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.'