Hauerwas considers himself to be first and foremost an essay writer, and although With the Grain of the Universe, Matthew, and Hannah’s Child, might mean that this statement needs to be qualified, it still is true that the greatest part of his writings are in that form. This means that it is quite easy to grasp his take on a certain topic, but it might be difficult to find the right essay. This is why the reader is important. It is also the book all theologians, including those that do not like Hauerwas, should have on their shelf.
It features essayes on all the important fields of interest Hauerwas has worked on throughout the decades, and it is a great selection. And besides the 31 essayes included, there is also Readers Guide by Micahel G. Cartwright and a Selected Annotated Bibliography, both very useful for finding further reading. William Cavanaugh’s biographical introduction is also valuable, and at least entertaining.
So, this is a great place to start exploring Hauerwas’s work, but it would be wonderful if Hauerwas’s critics would go to this book, rather than to the random collection of essay’s bearing the title one finds to be appropriate, which is too often the case. This selection is balanced and representative, and there are short introductions to each text that places it in context. There is more to Hauewas than what one can find here, but this is enough for most people’s needs.