Stanley Hauerwas: Working with Words. On Learning to Speak Christian.

Note: This book is also published under the title ”Learning to Speak Christian”.

This is one of two books Hauerwas has published this year (War and the American Difference being the other). He must be cleaning out his desk as he is about to retire, though I would not be surprised if the books keep coming. While there are a few texts in this book that aren’t perhaps stricty essential, the majority of the texts published here are very interesting and cover themes that Hauerwas has not discussed before. On a personal note, I am somewhat astonished that I after reading 30-odd books by the man still feel intrigued by his writings. I guess that says more about me than about Hauerwas. Or perhaps not.

Examples of texts that add significantly to the Hauerwas canon is one text on Augustine’s view of evil – it is perhaps not so original (Hauerwas would not want to be, of course), but very instructive, I might use it in class; more on Wittgenstein – There was some discussion of him in Performing the Faith, but otherwise Hauerwas has written very little on this major influence of his; some engagement with the excellent philosopher Raymond Gaita; and an exteremely interesting text on biblical hermeneutics, that comments on the process of writing Matthew.

There are several co-written texts here and some of these are very interesting, for exampel the text on the virtues in Thomas written with Sheryl Overmyer, which is valuable since it is neither an introduction for beginners nor a scholarly study but a kind of mid-level overview. The article on Catholic social teaching with Jana Bennett is also good.

The text that really made me think though is a Commencement Address held at the Eastern Mennonite Seminary, which discusses what is needed of good pastors. It is about the best thing I have read on that topic ever. Hint: It involves a lot of reading.

One more thing, this needs to be said: The person who decided on the paper to use for the cover of this book, should of course, if he or she is showing remorse, be forgiven, but if it ever happens again the person in question should never be allowed to work in the publishing industry again. Honestly, I have read a few books in my days, and I have never, ever, read a book with a more disgusting feel to it. It is sticky, it feel like it had old orange-marmalade on it. But you shouldn’t judge and book and all that.

Contents:

  1. Look at It and Live: A Sermon
  2. Seeing Darkness, Hearning Silence: Augustine’s Account of Evil
  3. Disiplined Seeing: Forms of Christianity and Forms of Life (with Brian Goldstone)
  4. God and Goodness: A Theological Exploration
  5. Naming God: A Sermon
  6. Speaking Christian: A Commencement Address
  7. Why ”The Way Words Run” Matters: Reflections on Becoming a ”Major Biblical Scholar”
  8. Why Did Jesus Have to Die? An Attempt to Cross the Barrier of Age
  9. More, or, A Taxonomy of Greed
  10. Love: A Sermon
  11. Love’s Work – Discerning the Body: A Sermon
  12. Body Matters: A Sermon
  13. Finite Care in a World of Infinite Need: A Sermon
  14. Sent: The Church Is Mission
  15. ”Long Live the Weeds and the Wilderness Yet”: Reflections on A Secular Age (with Romand Coles)
  16. H. Richard Niebuhr
  17. The Virtues of Alasdair MacIntyre
  18. The Virtues of the Summa Theologiae (with Sheryl Overmyer)
  19. ”A Recall to Christian Life”: What Is Social about the Catholic Social Teachings (With Jana Bennett)
  20. Methodist Theological Ethics (with D. Stephen Long)
  21. Friendship and Freedom: Reflections on Bonhoeffer’s The Friend
  22. Appendix: Learning to See Red Wheelbarrows: On Vision and Relativism (originally published in the late 70:s)

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