My friend Kevin Hargaden has had the privilege and task of listening to and editing a series of conversations between his two Texan PhD Supervisors, Brian Brock and a certain Stanley Hauerwas. He’s done a great job.
The result is Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas, to be published in February 2017. Here is the endorsement that I’ve had the pleasure to write:
“This is no ordinary conversation. Brian Brock’s deep familiarity with the entire Hauerwas corpus, astute and persistent probing, combined with an ability to push Hauerwas hard, results in an important book – one that offers new perspectives on both Hauerwas the man and the integrative importance of Christology and ecclesiology within his diverse theological vision. Following the discussion is demanding. It is also an education – not only in Hauerwasian theology but in truth-telling, the art of conversation, wisdom, virtue, suffering, prayer, love, hope and joy. All told, a richly rewarding eavesdropping experience.” – Patrick Mitchel, Irish Bible Institute.
I read it in bed in a mammoth session over a weekend when not feeling very well. It was a wonderful excuse to do nothing else but devour this book and forget about the rest of life for a couple of days. While these two men are obviously very good friends, the conversations are far from ad hoc chats. Brian Brock is frankly rather awesome (I can say that of an American) in his depth of research combined with an ability ‘interrogate Hauerwas’ in a way that very few people would be equipped to do.
The resultant conversations are erudite and – I’ve got to be honest here, you can’t BS about Hauerwas, he’s the one who says we must be first and foremost truth-tellers! – at times I had to read and re-read to keep up with what was going on. The level of learning and the art of conversation is remarkable, but more that this, what comes through is the vibrant, attractive (I’m a huge fan) and passionate humanity of Hauerwas.
The thing is he is just simply right about a whole lot of things. And he writes beautifully, whatever the subject. The discussion on his writing of Hannah’s Child was fascinating in how seriously Hauerwas takes the creative art of writing.
What’s the best way in to Hauerwas? Opinions welcome.
Three suggestions to begin:
His autobiography Hannah’s Child is wonderful – I read it again a while ago and it helped me enormously at the time.
The Peaceable Kingdom is terrific – I recall thinking that Hauerwas was extolling the benefits of narrative theology long before it became popular and fashionable.
War and the American Difference is classic polemical and prophetic Hauerwas, calling Christians to an alternative ecclesiological body politic to that of militarism, nationalism and violence that characterise contemporary America. (And that just might be a message that needs to be proclaimed from the rooftops in the next few years …)