"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hannah's Child

Shortly before the 9/11 attacks, Time magazine put Stanley Hauerwas on its front cover as "best theologian in America." True to form his reaction to it was "'best' is not a theological category." And yet if 'best' is not the, well, best superlative here, then surely others qualify: most important Protestant theologian today, most influential, etc. Of that there can be little doubt. My own life bears witness to this. I read every one of Hauerwas's works voraciously in the mid-1990s, and he helped me to see many things, and to change my mind on several important ones. He was also very helpful on a more personal matter, and for more than a dozen years we have written back and forth to each other, only finally meeting in 2004 at a conference in Prince Edward Island when we were both giving papers--he as a keynote speaker, and I as a lowly doctoral student. I remain greatly indebted to him.

In 2006, during one of our epistolary exchanges, he mentioned an article he was working on about one of the towering figures of Eastern Christianity, St. Gregory the Theologian (as the East calls him--i.e., Gregory Nazianzus). I expressed great interest in it, and he sent it to Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, and we were enormously pleased to be able to publish it in our 46th volume as: "To Love God, the Poor, and Learning: Lessons Learned from St. Gregory Nazianzus." I have my students reading that article this semester.


This year Hauerwas published his latest book, and one of his best. Most of his work has not been directly concerned with Eastern Christianity, but he has so shifted the discussion about theology, especially theological ethics, in North America, that no Eastern Christian should ignore him. (Again, as noted below, Vigen Guroian is one who is familiar with Hauerwas.) I greatly enjoyed reading Hauerwas's memoir,

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir (Eerdmans, 2010), 300pp.


It is a deeply moving memoir, and I was hoping to write a long review of it for a journal but have simply run out of time to do so. Nonetheless, nobody should miss this book by a man who, though now 70, will, I pray, continue for many more years to reform the theological landscape of North America.

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