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The Table Video

Stanley Hauerwas

The Extraordinary and Odd Adventure of Being a Christian

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Divinity and Law, Duke Divinity School
June 2, 2017

Hauerwas shares what keeps him doing theology and what he understands his particular message to be.


Stanley, thanks so much for joining me today.

It’s good to be here.

Yeah, I’m excited to talk about your work with you, and your perspectives. Now, so many decades into your work of theology. Maybe we could start, you’re technically retired.

I’ve been retired three years and I can’t get the hang of it.

Evan: You can’t get the hang of it?

No, I still get up. What you notice, first of all, is you don’t get a paycheck. [Evan laughs] But then you still have the everyday demands. I go into my office everyday. I was appointed this senior research scholar, so that means I get to keep my office, so I go in every day. My wife and I come from the lower middle classes, and we learned early on that what you do is work, and I’ve always worked, so I continue to work.

Evan: It’s hard to break old habits.

Very hard to break old habits.

So, in your current perspective, retired but hard to break old habits, what’s important to you, what gets you out of bed to do the work of theology that you’re called to do?

A few years ago, I was in a seminar with some folks about my work, and I said, “One of the things “that I’ve discovered as a Christian “is you have something to do.” I mean, how wonderful, to have something to do? So many people don’t have anything to do.

They work, but it doesn’t seem to have much point. I mean, what a wonderful thing that you’ve been pulled into God’s world to be a witness to Christ, and to flourish in the friendships that that makes over time, and you have something to do. Another way to say that is, “I have something to say.” I’ve never been an academic per se, so I write for people who are obligated to read me. They’re called Christians. [both laughing] And I hope–

You have a right to be read.

Yeah, so I hope it is some use. So everyday I get up, and I know I have something to do.

Mm-hm. What is that something that you want to say? What is the message that you feel at this stage in your life is the most pressing message?

How odd of God to choose the Jews. What I try to do is to help Christians recover how odd it is that we’re Christians and to challenge the accommodated character of so much of contemporary Christianity in the world in which we find ourselves, I think is what I’ve been given to do.

And so I’m in the constant business of trying to help us rediscover what an extraordinary adventure we’ve been put on by being pulled into God’s kingdom in a way that will be very surprising to many people who think that Christianity makes them good middle-class citizens of the United States of America.

Flannery O’Connor said “The truth shall make you odd.”

Stanley: Odd, right, no, I love that quote.