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Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir Hardcover – April 16, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A rural Texas boy grows up to become Time magazine's "best theologian in America"-that's the unlikely story behind Hauerwas's arguably destined journey to academic fame. Hauerwas (Resident Aliens) learns that his mother, like Hannah in the Book of Samuel, prayed for the blessing of a child whom she would offer to be in God's service. The theologian then weaves a compelling narrative that incorporates his humble beginnings as the son of a bricklayer, his troubled first marriage to a mentally ill woman, and his industrious intellectual pursuits. The result is a memoir that is both a well-documented story of Christian renewal and a superbly candid investigation into the scholarly mind. Fans of Christian memoirs will be pleased with Hauerwas's frank yet poignant style, and those who are simply fans of the memoir genre will find the book's careful blend of faith and scholarship easily accessible and far from didactic.
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From Booklist

Most contemporary memoirists tell stories about themselves that are the next thing to first-person-narrator fiction. Renowned theologian Hauerwas prefers to talk about others. While he relays the facts of his life, he focuses on his family, friends, and colleagues far more than on himself. He obviously owes his rooted, second-nature Christianity to his parents, and he maintains the working-class consciousness he imbibed from them in his unpretentious friendliness and candor, though he did have to lose the salty workers’ diction he’d picked up from his bricklayer father’s work crew as his academic career advanced. His friends and colleagues (mostly the same people) helped him shape his thought as he became increasingly sure that Christians must be nonviolent, helped him transfer from Notre Dame to Duke and thrive at both, and helped him persevere while his first wife descended into angry, delusive mental illness and, then, separate from her and carefully find new love. You don’t have to be interested in theology to enjoy, perhaps a little bemusedly, this theologian’s warm testimony. --Ray Olson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; First Edition edition (April 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802864872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802864871
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Marty A. Michelson on May 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I became aware of Hauerwas through a professional colleague in the late 90's. While my area of expertise is in Bible more precisely, I have not had direct reason to read all that Hauerwas has written. Like many others, though, I've heard Hauerwas present papers at professional meetings or other events and knew him to be quite a "character" and I wanted to "hear" his story - especially since he connected it to such a great story from Hebrew Scripture with reference to Hannah and Samuel.

What a delight to read this text. It is precisely what it claims to be - a memoir. What most resonated with me as an individual reader is the fact of Hauerwas's honest portrait of his life's story - particularly the intersections of his work as a student, as a colleague figuring out how to navigate professional/academic guilds, and his life with Anne and Adam, his first and their child. As a student, he was just moving forward and searching - but not out to prove anything, it seems. As an academic, in his own story, he notes how green and crass he was, turning people off and not pleasing all but being honest. In particular, I valued how his life as an academic took place in conversations with so many other academics - the persons with whom he worked that shaped how he thought and what he read and how he come to converse and lecture on various topics. In his life with his wife, he notes the difficulty, pain and ambiguity that came with being married to someone who would later have psychotic breaks that he and Adam tried to manage and live with and through. And, of course, how being the son of a bricklayer and, by his own testimony, a bricklayer himself wove itself through his life's story.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Morehead on May 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 2:52 Mins
In this video, Wunderkammer Magazine sits down with Stanley Hauerwas and asks him to describe his memoir.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David Crumm on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
At the dawn of this new millennium, Time magazine declared Stanley Hauerwas America's "Best Theologian," a label that the tough-talking Texan routinely uses to poke fun at himself. How can anyone rank theologians--like handicapping golfers or giving stars to restaurants! Nevertheless, Time magazine took this task seriously, publishing a profile that described how the "rough speech and pointed views" of this brick-layer's son sometimes are "scandalous" among academics and religious leaders.

First of all, I can assure you that the Time declaration hasn't gone to Hauerwas' head. In his new memoir, he writes: "If theologians become famous in times like ours, surely they must have betrayed their calling. After all, theology is a discipline whose subject should always put in doubt the very idea that those who practice it know what they are doing."

I do agree that Stanley Hauerwas has a powerful prophetic voice. He is solidly American, solidly Christian and solidly accomplished as one of our greatest scholars--yet he uses that firm foundation to address the world like a latter-day Isaiah, Jeremiah or Micah, crying out for justice and a complete rethinking of our global priorities. To use "Hauerwasian" terms, he's often telling us to get up off our rear ends, scrape away the accumulated gunk of convenient, self-centered spirituality--and get our hands dirty in engaging with the real needs of the world.

That's why reading his memoir is such a pleasure. We spend time with Hauerwas exploring his experiences growing up as a bricklayer's son. His lifelong respect for hardworking men and women is a major reason that he preaches so regularly about the dangers of social divides.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin A. Simpson VINE VOICE on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is no secret that I am a "fan" of Stanley Hauerwas, the famous theologian who is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School. I've read enough Hauerwas to know that he desires neither my fandom, nor the fame that has produced "fans" like myself. He desires that I follow Jesus Christ, and that I hold to Christian convictions because they are true. He desires that the church would live in a way that gives a truthful witness to the Lordship of the One whose love moves the sun and the stars. His theology is wrought through with a passion for honest speech, an embodied faith, a commitment to Christian nonviolence, a love for story, and an indebtedness to the friendships that God has gifted him during his life. He is a man who has experienced a lifelong "lover's quarrel" with the Church, yet his commitment to that love is unfailing. His memoir reflects all of these themes.

I've never read a book quite like Hannah's Child. Perhaps this is because I have not read many memoirs. Yet I found Hannah's Child delightful. Hauerwas tells his story in compelling, clear language, and I found this book a joy because it provides a context within which to place Hauerwas's theological writings. It is indeed true that Hauerwas has come a "long way" from his beginnings in Pleasant Grove, Texas. But when Hauerwas's thought is placed within the frame of his stories of family, upbringing, bricklaying, and church, books like Community of Character and Resident Aliens, to name two of my favorites, suddenly take on a more robust shape.
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