Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness
Stanley Hauerwas, Jean Vanier, . . IVP Academic, $15 (132pp) ISBN 978-0-8308-3452-5
Hauerwas, a leading theologian, and Vanier, founder of L'Arche, an international community for the disabled, examine how fragility, friendship and the witness of people with disabilities might transform the Christian church. Part of a new series that pairs academics and practitioners to examine issues of Christian life and thought, the book's chapters alternate between the mostly theoretical voice of Hauerwas, professor of ethics at Duke, and the personal stories of Vanier. The two authors upend notions of normalcy and oddness, strength and weakness, and progress and death. They also challenge the assumption that autonomy indicates success for disabled people and make the case that community offers the best context for growth for all of us. With between 60% to 90% of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome being aborted, Hauerwas and Vanier insist on the holiness of people with disabilities. Hauerwas writes, “L'Arche stands as a reminder that 'progress' should not mean eliminating all that threatens us.” His discussion of the political implications of gentleness in the last chapter is worth the entire book.
Reviewed on: 10/13/2008