Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, Part 2

“Intellectually, my greatest strength is that there is nothing in which I am not interested. Intellectually, my greatest weakness is that there is nothing in which I am not interested” (12).

“My criticism of liberal political presumptions is based in my presumption that politics, like laying brick, is a wisdom-determined activity” (36).

“I think of theology as a craft requiring years of training. Like stonecutters and bricklayers, theologians must come to terms with the material upon which they work. In particular, they must learn to respect the simple complexity of the language of the faith, so that they might reflect the radical character of orthodoxy. I think one of the reasons I was never drawn to liberal Protestant theology was that it felt too much like an attempt to avoid the training required of apprentices. In contrast, Karl Barth’s work represented for me an uncompromising demand to submit to a master bricklayer, with the hope that in the process one might learn some of the ‘tricks of the trade’” (37).

“I hope I am a Christian because what we believe as Christians forces an unrelenting engagement with reality. That my parents let me go is a testimony to the truthfulness of their lives. Without lives like theirs, the life I have led, a life shaped by books, is threatened by unreality. I try to remember where I came from” (45).

“I am an academic because to be an academic has given me time to think about matters that should matter. What I hope and pray is that the way I have tried to think and write may in some small way help sustain lives as good as my parents. My father was a better bricklayer than I am a theologian. I am still in too much of a hurry. But if the work I have done in theology is of any use, it is because of what I learned on the job, that is, you can lay only one brick at a time” (46).

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