Dispatches from the Front: Theological Engagements with the Secular (1994)

Dispatches from the Front: Theological Engagements with the Secular

These seemingly disparate essays are united by Hauerwas' concern for "the actual practices of forgiveness and reconciliation and how and why they require a community that is eschatologically shaped." If that quotation is quite a mouthful, well, Hauerwas is an academic theologian, member of a tribe not known for easy prose. Nevertheless, broadly schooled Christians and others may be enthralled by his discriminating considerations of the virtues of the gentleman in the novels of Anthony Trollope; of the relationship between forgiveness and truthfulness as exemplified in Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe; of the problems of the coexistence of Christianity and liberal democracy; of nonviolence as not a theory about the ethics of war but the polity of Christianity; of the moral superiority, re military service, of gays as a group compared with Christians as a group; and of how compassion as a liberal virtue paradoxically perpetrates cruelty. Persistent throughout the book are deep skepticism about the compatibility of Christianity and liberalism, also Hauerwas' particular fanaticism: "I want . . . to convince everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian that being a Christian means that one must be nonviolent." Challenging, sometimes difficult reading, animated by saving grace. Ray Olson