“We do not think we live in a time when moral conventions (which is just another word for the Law) determine our lives, but we do. We may not quite be in a Jane Austen world, but we are close. Jane Austen lived in a world of clear social conventions in which everyone knew what was the right thing to do or say, particularly when you were at dinner. Her novels are relentless investigations of whether people who always seem to do the right thing, in fact, have a true heart. If you live in conformity to what everyone assumes is the good, how do you know if you are who you think you are? How do you know your heart is true? We do not think we live at a time when there is agreement about such conventions, but, in reality, we are creatures of such conventions.
For example, there is no convention, no law, more significant than the law that the only law we live by is the law we have chosen for ourselves. The presumption that what really matters is not whether we keep or do not keep the law, but what kind of person we are turns out to be a law. Moreover, this law is an invitation for self-deception, precisely because we do not think it to be a law. We may think we are people whose hearts are true, because we are what we want to be, but, in fact, most of us go through life with little reflection about the person we are becoming.” 1
This is the eighteenth in a series of posts highlighting captivating, provocative, or simply entertaining quotes from the just published book Minding the Web: Making Theological Connections by Stanley Hauerwas edited by Robert J. Dean (Cascade).
- Stanley Hauerwas, “A Heartfelt People,” in Minding the Web: Making Theological Connections, edited by Robert J. Dean (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2018), 221-222. ↩