Wilderness Wanderings: Probing 20th Century Theology

Stanley M. Hauerwas, Author
Stanley M. Hauerwas, Author Basic Books $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8133-3349-6
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-8133-3348-9
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-334-02859-8
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Hauerwas, as always, is provocative, and that is reason enough to read this new collection of essays. Part of the provocation is the relentlessly fragmentary character of his work, consistently forged in particular conversations around particular issues with particular people. Here, Hauerwas, who teaches theology and ethics at Duke University, engages a range of thinkers that includes process theologian John Cobb, Christian realist Reinhold Niebuhr, ethical philosopher Martha Nussbaum, medical ethicist Tristram Englehardt, novelist Iris Murdoch and Martin Luther King Jr.--all in fewer than 250 pages. The result is decidedly unsystematic. Hauerwas does offer some direction to this wandering in the wilderness in an introduction in which he asserts that theology is necessarily fragmentary because it is never finished. What ties the cast of characters together is what Hauerwas refers to as the ""agonized I,"" the persona of Hauerwas himself, who, in the introduction, confesses his love for the orderliness of systematic theology even while the subsequent essays resist systematization. Readers who know Hauerwas will recognize that ""I"" in the staccato, cantankerous, often humorous voice of these occasional pieces, and new readers will come to know the voice quickly. Both will find the encounter rewarding, even when it is infuriating and disorienting. (Oct.)
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