Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, Part 12

“Although it is true that I got through the years with Anne in part because of my boundless energy and stubbornness, I would not have survived if I had not had friends praying for me.  I ‘knew’ God was with me because I knew I had friends all over the world praying for us.  Prayer did not mean that I thought everything would work out for the best.  Prayer meant that God was with us.  Prayer meant that Anne did not die alone.  Prayer means that none of us will die alone” (281–282).

“Humility is a virtue that rides on the back of a life made possible by having been given good work to do” (284).

“As I shared this manuscript with friends along the way, someone asked me what I had learned in the process of writing Hannah’s Child.  I am tempted to say that I have learned how fortunate I am to have had such good friends, but that would be stating the obvious.  I might also reply that I now realize how lucky I have been, but that would be killing time in the hope of discovering something to say.  There are other possibilities.  But in fact what I have learned is quite simple – I am a Christian.  How interesting” (284).

Throughout Hannah's Child, Hauerwas gives an account of his life shaped by the story in 1 Samuel of Hannah praying for a child and promising to dedicate that child, Samuel, to God.  Hauerwas had a similar experience, as his mother told him when he was a child that she had too prayed for a child and promised to dedicate the child to God.  While Hauerwas did not always think of his life through that lens, he says that in the process of writing it came to him.  Having the story of his life shaped theologically has similarites to Augustine's Confessions, however, Hauerwas does not reference Confessions anywhere within Hannah's Child.

Throughout the book, Hauerwas shares the numerous friends and congregations who shaped his life and helped him discover "I am a Christian."  While the book is about Hauerwas, it is also about how God shaped and used him to do theology for the church.  The book also made me think of the friends, teachers, classmates, and congregations that have shaped me as a Christian.  So, while the book tells the story of his life, Hauerwas also teaches his readers throughout the book.  As Lauren Winner says in her review on the back of the book, "I love this book because I love its author.  But Hannah's Child is about more than the making of someone called 'Stanley Hauerwas.'  It is about how one makes and sustains families, how God and the church make and sustain Christians."  I highly recommend Hauerwas' memoir (to those not overly offended by occasional cussing).

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