Stanley Hauerwas: War and the American Difference. Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity.

This, Hauerwas’s other 2011 book, is more tightly focused than Working with Words, which means that if you are interested in those questions, war and (american) nationalism, you’ll find this book important whereas if not, you won’t. I prefered Working with Words, but there is still a lot of interesting texts here. The texts that stand out for me is one on Sacrifice that argues that the greatest sacrifice in war is not life but our unwillingness to kill. I also enjoyed a text on C.S. Lewis that can only be described as ”cute” – Hauerwas gracefully indicates that Lewis had no idea what he was talking about when it came to pacifism.

The last part of the book is not so closely related to the title of the book, but I find the articles in that part important. In one he discusses the concept of justice which clears up a lot of old misunderstandings regarding Hauerwas’s view. There is an important engagement with Rahner and his suggestion that the church now is a diaspora church (this article was first, I think, published in the festschrift to my professor Tage Kurtén in 2010, called Mot bättre vetande).

In the last text Hauerwas responds to Nathan Kerr’s book Christ, History and Apocalyptic, by essentially arguing that most of the the ”important” problems in Hauerwas’s thinking Kerr points out are little more than arbitrary grievences with terminology. (Robert Jenson recently described Kerr’s position as ”the perfection of what Barth might have come to think if he had not been so concerned for Scripture”)

Several of the chapters in this book have been available on the Internet (often in audio form), so it is good to get them in print.

Contents

  1. War and the American Difference: A Theological Assessment
  2. Amerca’s God
  3. Why War Is a Moral Necessity for America: Or, How realistic is Realism?
  4. Reflections on the ”Appeal to Abolish War”: Or, What Being a Friend of Enda’s Got Me Into
  5. Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War
  6. C. S. Lewis and Violence
  7. Martin Luther King Jr. and Christian Nonviolence
  8. Jesus, the Justice of God
  9. Pentecost: Learning the Languages of Peace
  10. A Worldly Church: Politics, Theology, and the Common Good
  11. A Particular Place: The Future of Parish Ministry
  12. Beyond the Boundaries: The Church Is Mission

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