The Timeless Hauerwas: Some More Quotes and some of the things I continue to learn from “the man.”

As some people know, Stanley Hauerwas has had a significant influence on my life, thought, teaching and ministry. A while back I read Hauerwas’ memoirs entitled Hannah’s Child. As one might expect, there are many great quotes from the “quote-meister.” I just jotted a few of them down for those interested. In italics are my comments after each quote. Enjoy.—————————

Page 86 “I write like I learned to lay brick. You do it because you have to get it done before it rains.”  Largely due to Hauerwas’ influence, I try to read and write for the first three hours of the day (after morning prayers). It is part of the work of being a pastor/professor.

Page 87 “I have come to believe that “believing in God” is not a description that helps us know much about what it means to be a Christian.” This is why we are always invited to ask each person more about what they might actually mean when they say it.

Page 95 “… there is no substitute for learning to be a Christian by being in the presence of significant lives made significant by being Christian. … Significance suggests importance… lives that make a difference and that demand acknowledgement. But the lives of significance I began to notice were not significant in any of those ways. Rather, they were lives of quiet serenity, capable of attending with love to the everyday without the need to be recognized as “making a difference.”” I continue to strive to nurture and live in communities where such lives exist.

Page 141 “(On moving the church to every Sunday Eucharist) The board discussed the motion quite favorably. John (the pastor) had worked for years to reach this moment. I (Hauerwas) suggested that we vote. At that moment, John, who had been quiet during our discussion, suddenly declared, “You will not vote on this issue.” I thought he had gone bonkers. … He explained, however, that the Eucharist is about the unity of the church. If a majority vote determined the matter, then the unity would be betrayed. He noted that some people in the church might not be ready to make this move. He would call a meeting, inviting those who might have reservations to come and express their worries … If they strongly dissented, we would have to wait.” I learned from Hauerwas never to describe what happens in church by the word “vote” and, in leading a community, always be ready to wait.

Page 202 “I asked her to marry me. She thought I was crazy. She pointed out that I had no idea who she was. I responded that of course I did not know who she was. But I knew she was a Christian. I loved and lusted after her. The rest we could work out.” There’s more theology here than meets the eye. Yet the simplicity here is worthy of note. It drives the way I do marriage counseling.

Page 231 “Dennis’s vision for the school, as far as I could tell, assumed the church’s primary role … was to support those who think they run the world. In contrast, I wanted a church capable of reminding those who think they rule the world that they are in the grip of a deep delusion.” Hauerwas has influenced the way I lead my church community when it comes to matters of state politics. My first impulse is to always help us realize that those who think they are in power are not and we should not be so ready to assume this is the way God works.

Page 235 “Writing is hard and difficult work because to write is to think. I do not have an idea and then find a way to express it. The expression is the idea. So I write because writing is the only way I know how to think.” Enough said 🙂

Page 235 “I write, moreover, because I have something to say.  That I have something to say is not a personal achievement. I have something to say because I am a Christian.” Again enough said 🙂

Page 247 “As theologians, we must say more than we can be in the hope that others will make us more than we are. What is crucial is that we not write to justify the limits of our lives.” I try to remember this every time I approach the pulpit.

Page 254 “I am not interested in what I believe. I am not even sure what I believe. I am much more interested in what the church believes.” I learned from Hauerwas that writing books and doing theology has little to do with me. For this I am grateful.

Page 255 “I do not trust prayer to spontaneity. Most “spontaneous prayers” turn out, upon analysis to be anything but spontaneous. Too often they conform to formulaic patterns that include ugly phrases such as, “Lord, we just ask you …” Such phrases are gestures of false humility, suggesting that God should give us what we want because what we want is not all that much. I pray that God will save us from that “just.”” I learned from Hauerwas the inescapability of liturgy in all of life period. We are all beings scripted (shaped and formed) by liturgies every day. The church must offer the world the liturgy of life in Christ for the sake of God’s Mission.

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