Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (Resources for Reconciliation)
How are Christians to live in a violent and wounded world? Rather than contending for privilege by wielding power and authority, we can witness prophetically from a position of weakness. The church has much to learn from an often overlooked community--those with disabilities. In this fascinating book, theologian Stanley Hauerwas collaborates with Jean Vanier, founder of the worldwide L'Arche communities. For many years, Hauerwas has reflected on the lives of people with disability, the political significance of community, and how the experience of disability addresses the weaknesses and failures of liberal society. And L'Arche provides a unique model of inclusive community that is underpinned by a deep spirituality and theology. Together, Vanier and Hauerwas carefully explore the contours of a countercultural community that embodies a different way of being and witnesses to a new order--one marked by radical forms of gentleness, peacemaking and faithfulness. The authors' explorations shed light on what it means to be human and how we are to live. The robust voice of Hauerwas and the gentle words of Vanier offer a synergy of ideas that, if listened to carefully, will lead the church to a fresh practicing of peace, love and friendship. This invigorating conversation is for everyday Christians who desire to live faithfully in a world that is violent and broken.
A Theology that Reckons with Brokenness
By Eric N. Tonjes - December 15, 2008
I was intrigued when I got a copy of Living Genly in a Violent World. I had heard of Jean Vanier's work in founding the L'Arche communities, in which individuals with mental disabilities live together in community with those who don't have such challenges. Stanley Hauerwas, meanwhile, has long been a literary and theological conversation partner for me, and while there are many areas about which I would disagree with him, he is reliable in his ability to challenge the way I think. This book, part of the Resources for Reconciliation series put out by InterVarsity Press and Duke Divinity School's Center for Reconciliation, was an intriguing read.
The book is formatted as a set of four essays, two by Jean Vanier and two by Stanley Hauerwas. In some ways, it almost feels like two books with a shared theme: Vanier spends his chapters reflecting upon life among the mentally disabled and how it should shape us, while Hauerwas uses the example of L'Arche as a launching pad for a... read more
Exemplifying True Love
By S. J. Young - January 9, 2009
I originally bought this book thinking it would be simply a Hauerwas book. I was surprised to see that it was more of an exchange or conversation between Hauerwas and Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche Communities. The book is brief, easy to read, and compelling in multiple ways.
I actually found Vanier's sections more compelling and moving spiritually than Hauerwas' - though I appreciated what Hauerwas had to say. Vanier's communities emphasize great humility and gentleness of a sort that is unique in the world - a humility that comes from weakness. He seeks to treat those who we see as "handicapped" as equals. His is not a condescending love; but it is a love that says, "you are as important as I am and I have weaknesses just as you do." It is a radical departure from the conservative who tends to ignore the downtrodden and the liberal who tends to condescend toward others in telling them what's good for them.
This kind of love is actually very much in tune... read more
upending the social pyramid
By Daniel B. Clendenin - January 21, 2009
The four essays in this gem of a little book originated at a conference sponsored by the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability at the University of Aberdeen in 2006. The book's publication represents a collaboration between InterVarsity Press and the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School that pairs leading thinkers with practitioners to explore what hope means in a world of brokenness. Hauerwas (b. 1940) is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School with a joint appointment at the Duke University School of Law. Vanier (b. 1928) is the founder of L'Arche, "an international network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities experience life together as fellow human beings who share a mutuality of care and need. Today over 130 L'Arche communities exist in 34 countries on six continents."
Vanier and Hauerwas take turns writing the alternate chapters of the book. The apostle Paul wrote to the... read more
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