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Archive for October 23rd, 2009

Last night Stanley Hauerwas was publically interviewed by an Anglican Priest/News Anchorman (weird combination, I know) in the divinity school. I had heard Dr Hauerwas speak in chapel a few weeks ago, which was a great experience as expected. The sermon was on a passage from 1 Corinthians and was fairly straightforward and not particularly controversial. His language was appropriate for a church service and his countenance was that of a minister, not a professor. Last night, however, we were able to get a glimpse of the Hauerwas that has become legendary in theological circles for certain slips of the tongue. Hauerwas the Texan was fully present last night as the interviewer asked him questions pertaining to “being a Christian in today’s world.” Aside from many  typically rich, challenging, profound, and elegant reflections on being a Christian in the modern world were the Hauerwasian one-liners that make Hauerwas the legend that he has come to be. Here are my favorites from last night (please excuse some of the language):

On Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens: “Dawkins and Hitchens simply represent the fact that Christians have become so stupid that they have ceased to give the world anything interesting to think about. It’s not atheism that’s killing the Church, but sentimentality.”

On Christian marriage: “The problem with most sex is that it’s not very intimate…Our spouses get to know us better than we know ourselves, and it just scares the shit out of us.”

On health care reform: “If you live a crappy life there is no reason that you shouldn’t die a crappy death.”

On the recent developments between the Vatican and Anglicans: “I think what Benedict did was absolute shit…They just can’t give up on England. Why they would want England beats the hell out of me”

On the south: “Southern civility is one of the most calculated forms of cruelty I can think of.”

Of course, all of these soundbites were part of much broader and deeply thought-out reflections on the particular issues, but the one-liners are always the fun part. Yet, despite such fun, I was reminded last night just what is at stake when I call myself a Christian and proclaim Jesus as Lord in a world that has no time for God. Here is a passage from Hauerwas that is perhaps more insightful than a mere soundbite:

“Do  I think the truthfulness of Christian witness is compromised when Christians accept the practices of the ‘culture of death’–abortion, suicide, capital punishment, and war? Yes! On every count, the answer is ‘Yes’…Christians betray the grammar of the Christian faith when we try to answer the charge of circularity by divorcing what we believe from the way our beliefs are embedded in the church. In short, I am suggesting that Christians in modernity have lost the ability to answer questions about the truthfulness of what we believe because we have accepted beliefs about the world that presuppose that God does not matter. The problem for Christians and non-Christians alike is the Christian inability to live in a way that enables us to articulate what difference it makes that we are or are not Christian.” -from With the Grain of the Universe

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