Dispatches from the Front

Theological Engagements with the Secular

Dispatches from the Front

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: Published: May 1994

Religious Studies

God knows it is hard to make God boring, Stanley Hauerwas writes, but American Christians, aided and abetted by theologians, have accomplished that feat. Whatever might be said about Hauerwas—and there is plenty—no one has ever accused him of being boring, and in this book he delivers another jolt to all those who think that Christian theology is a matter of indifference to our secular society.
At once Christian theology and social criticism, this book aims to show that the two cannot be separated. In this spirit, Hauerwas mounts a forceful attack on current sentimentalities about the significance of democracy, the importance of the family, and compassion, which appears here as a literally fatal virtue. In this time of the decline of religious knowledge, when knowing a little about a religion tends to do more harm than good, Hauerwas offers direction to those who would make Christian discourse both useful and truthful. Animated by a deep commitment, his essays exhibit the difference that Christian theology can make in the shaping of lives and the world.


"Stanley Hauerwas is a committed Christian pacifist. But his new book on pacifism, liberal democracy, and myriad other topics is anything but peaceful. . . . The author pulls no punches theological or otherwise, in essays that argue for the transformative power of Christian discourse and imagination." — , Chronicle of Higher Education

"Ingratiating theology is always boring. This book is exciting just because it displays an uncompromising Christian who thinks about matters of great general concern. Stanley Hauerwas’s extraordinary intellectual energy constantly jolts one into reconsidering what one had previously taken for granted. He illustrates how a vigorous theology can participate in the common conversation." — Robert N. Bellah, author of Habits of the Heart

"Stanley Hauerwas is one of the few prophetic voices of our time—idiosyncratic, cantankerous, and challenging." — Cornel West

"Stanley Hauerwas’s criticisms of the American pieties are unanswerable. His alternatives are likely to be considered an outrage. Hooray for Hawerwas! There’s no one I’d rather be reading." — Frank Lentricchia


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke University. He is the author of numerous books, the most recent being In Good Company: The Church as Polis. He is also co-editor, with Alasdair MacIntyre, of a book series entitled "Revisions: Changing Perspectives in Moral Philosophy."

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface 1

Introduction / Positioning: In the Church and University But Not of Either 5

Part I. Behind the Lines

1. Constancy and Forgiveness: The Novel as a School for Virtue 31

2. On Honor: By Way of a Comparison of Karl Barth and Trollope 58

3. Why Truthfulness Requires Forgiveness: A Commencement Address for Graduates of a College of the Church of the Second Chance 80

Part II. Engagements

4. The Democratic Policing of Christianity 91

5. Creation as Apocalyptic: A Tribute to William Stringfellow with Jeff Powell 107

6. Can a Pacifist Think About War? 116

7. Whose "Just" War? Which Peace? 136

8. Why Gays (as a Group) Are Morally Superior to Christians (as a Group) 153

9. Communitarians and Medical Ethicists: Or, "Why I Am None of the Above" 156

10. Killing Compassion 164

11. The Church and the Mentally Handicapped: A Continuing Challenge to the Imagination 177

Notes 187

Index 233
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1716-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1475-2
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