With Friends Like These . . .

Earlier this year, Bloomsbury T&T Clark published a collection of conversations between the renowned theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas and Brian Brock, who teaches at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  Brock, who is himself quite an accomplished theological ethicist and is clearly conversant in Hauerwas’s writings, proves to be a worthy interlocutor for Hauerwas.  The book is entitled Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas.

On one level, the book could serve as an introduction to Hauerwas’s thought as many of the main themes in his work are brought to the fore.  In various places I found my own inclinations about reading Hauerwas’s work confirmed.  However, in other places I found Brock’s skillful questioning opening up new vistas for consideration.  The give and take of the conversations pulse with mutual excitement and the delight of discovery.  My biggest disappointment surrounding the book is that it is retailing for a price that is sure to place it out of the hands of many who would otherwise be interested in reading it (Amazon has it listed at over $130 here in Canada).

The format of the conversations also lends itself to the inclusion of informal, often entertaining, anecdotes.  Here’s one of my favourites, as told by Hauerwas:

“Once I was asked by some kids in one of the dorms at Duke, they were supposed to make contact with a faculty member, and they said, ‘Would you come over and talk to us about friends?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. I’ve thought quite a bit about friendship’ And he said, ‘No, no. The show; Friends!’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve never seen it.’ They could not believe it, that here is a human being who had never heard or seen Friends. They said, ‘We want to watch an episode of Friends and have you talk about it with us.’ So I went over and I watched an episode of Friends, and of course I was stunned. When it was over I said, ‘Who would want to be friends with any of those people?’ End of conversation.”1

  1. Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas, Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas, ed. Kevin Hargaden (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017), 278.

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