tuesday night this week stanley hauerwas was here to help us kick off a process of thinking through our mission at the center for faith & culture.
(stanley, talking with wes avram, professor of communications at yale divinity)
the object of his visit was to kick off our project we've titled 'theology live' in order to capture our intention to learn about how one makes faith matter in all of life and not simply in the divinity school or the congregation. we're not only having theologians--actually specifically not--because we understand that in an important sense all christians are theologians. but among theologians there are few who have engaged broader issues that matter to us all, and from a distinctly christian voice, than stanley hauerwas. my first blush reaction was that i heard (of course) things he'd said before, either in writing or in other lectures. when one has had as long a public career as stanley that should be no surprise. but one thing struck me. he didn't like what we were doing when he came and when he left, he left enthusiastic.
he didn't like what we were doing because he thought it was 'public theology' or some such thing, which he considers a sort of tired grab for power on the part of the church. as if we ought to be trying to say better things on economics than economists or on medicine than doctors, etc. he said he had no idea how to do that well, and didn't want to anyway. but when he found out that our aim is to help christians to be stronger, deeper, more thoughtful christians not only at church, but more importantly (because of its neglect) in the rest of life, he got excited. that's all i've been trying to do, he said. quoting loosely, he said "people accuse me of trying to withdraw. hell, I want people to engage, but i just want them to engage as christians! if that's what you want to do, great. we need more of that."
for posterity, for those of you who know the history, here are a couple of nice pics of stanley talking to george lindbeck after the lecture.