Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas

Yesterday I attended a lecture by Stanley Hauerwas at Baylor University.  It wasn't really a lecture, per se, as it was entitled "A conversation with Stanley Hauerwas."  And it was precisely that, it was a conversation moderated by Jonathan Tran, professor or Religion at Baylor and form student of Hauerwas, as he asked pre-solicited questions from Baylor professors and students.  The conversation yielded many wonderful golden nuggets which I will include here in several quotations that I jotted down during the hour.  (disclaimer: many of these quotes are not "verbatim" due to my lack of listening/typing skills.  Yet, I think I have captured the "gist" of what Hauerwas said.  I in no way mean to misrepresent what he said and if I have done so, please let me know).

On why he wrote a "memoir" rather than a "confession."
"I am not a good enough Christian to write in the confessional mode."
On his memoir in general:
"I tried to subvert the overly self revelatory form of the modern memoir that leads to voyeurism."
"I tried to avoid writing a memoir because of its inherent narcisism, but it turns out I'm just narcissistic enough to do it."
"Fame is a killer, and I try to defeat it in any way I can.  I wrote the memoir to communicate that I am a human being... I know it sounds odd to say that you have written a memoir to avoid fame, but that is what I am trying to do."
"All of that could be seen as a gesture toward humility, but I don't trust humility at all." 
On race relations in America
"What we are currently experiencing is the failure of the success of the civil rights movement... African Americans can now move to the suburbs, have two cars and a picket fence and worry about the Jews moving in.  What is a little slavery between friends."
"Americans will miss the story of African Americans as long as it is a story of suffering." 
Responding to the claim that in the south Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America:

"if you want to see racisim on a stick, try Boston."
On segregated churches:
"I don't think we'll know how to worship together until we are dependent upon each other for survival.  The church is too safe."
On the Eucharist:
"if the words are rightly spoken, and the actions are rightly done, then there is nothing you can do to stop Jesus from showing up."
On whether Christians support limited police actions to stop Genocide:
"Yes... Such a police force must be trained to feel that they would rather die than kill." 
On whether violent action is ever a valid path to less violence:
On non-violence:
 "Believe it or not, I'm a theocrat. It's very hard to make people do what you want them to do while being committed to non-violence, but I'm going to try."
"I'm a Texan, I'm a violent son of a bitch." 
On the Academy:
"Tenure in modern universities has been shaped so that scholars know more and more about less and less and thus have security in the fact that they know very little."
"The duty of university is to create a literate public."
"Baylor has the responsibility to create literate Baptists, and that would be a miracle.  Baptists have the Bible and now, and that's a problem."
And my personal favorite, on vegetarianism and whether Hauerwas would eat meat:
"Eschatologically we are obligated to be vegetarians, but I'm a Texan."

1 comment:

  1. One thing that stuck with me from this conversation was what he mentioned about violence and riding the world of violence. He essentially said that, the only time to get a point across to certain people is to be violent, but maybe someday we can create a police little or no weapons to control the crime that is occurring. This struck me as interesting because I had never thought of trying to one day come up with a police that did not use weapons, but maybe in some parts of the United States and the world this could be possible

    -- Caleb Conner