During the past few weeks I have been savouring Stanley Hauerwas' memoir: "Hannah's child: A theologian's memoir". I say that I have been savouring it, because it is like a piece of Belgian chocolate, to be enjoyed for as long as possible, leaving the person feeling and hoping that it will never end. And so, by reading this phenomenal book, I have grown in my liking of Stanley Hauerwas, who happens to be a theologian, ethicist, philosopher and Christian. There are some natural things that draw me to Hauerwas. First, he did not come from a family of academics, but from a family of bricklayers. Same here, except that I grew up in a mining town where my destiny was to follow in my paternal ancestor's footsteps to descend into the black hole on a daily basis. There is a ruggedness in his character, vocabulary and thinking that makes me feel at home. Secondly, he is a Barthian. Enough said.
His passion for following Jesus is inspiring. His criticism of Christianity and of religious Christians, are at times quite scathing, but for Hauerwas one thing is clear: "Jesus is Lord, and everything else is bull[expletive]". There is an honesty in his character where no presumptuous piety can find a place to linger. For instance, in his book, he recounts his experiences at Augustana:
"They were in a generalized way Lutheran, which meant in some vague way that they thought they were Christian. At least one of the missions in Augustana was to reinforce that vagueness. Or as I learned to put it - our task was to give the parents the impression that by sending their daughters to Augustana they would not lose the virginity they had already lost in high school. I had not been at Augustana long before I was drawn into a controversy about whether the doors of coeds could be shut during the times Augustana males were allowed to visit in the women's dorms. A reporter for the campus newspaper asked me what the new Christian ethicist's views might be about this crucial issue. Drawing on my experience as a Texan, as well as having just come from Yale, I responded: 'Well, I guess it's a good way to avoid getting grass stains.' I was quoted in the weekly edition of the paper. I later came to understand that such an observation was not well received by the administration."
I must confess, I read the above passage above in church while listening to a sermon. How I didn't burst out laughing out loud is a due solely to divine grace. This honesty breaks the power of pretense - very refreshing in a world where Christians are not supposed to be human.
Thank you, father Stanley! Must just put in one moment of bragging: Prof. Hauerwas owns one of Dion and my books! One day, if I get the chance to ask him whether he liked it, I hope he will not respond as Barth did to Brunner (?) by saying: "It has a nice cover".