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Working with Words: On Learning to Speak Christian [Kindle Edition]

Stanley Hauerwas
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $37.00
Kindle Price: $23.00
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Book Description

The crucial challenge for theology is that when it is read the reader thinks, "This is true." Recognizing claims that are "true" enables readers to identify an honest expression of life's complexities. The trick is to show that theological claims--the words that must be used to speak of God--are necessary if the theologian is to speak honestly of the complexities of life. The worst betrayal of the task of theology comes when the theologian fears that the words he or she must use are not necessary.
This new collection of essays, lectures, and sermons by Stanley Hauerwas is focused on the central challenge, risk, and difficulty of this necessity--working with words about God. The task of theology is to help us do things with words. "God" is not a word peculiar to theology, but if "God" is a word to be properly used by Christians, the word must be disciplined by Christian practice. It should, therefore, not be surprising that, like any word, we must learn how to say "God."


"The essays and sermons in Working with Words reveal that the vibrancy of Stanley Hauerwas arises from his single-minded, manic determination to learn from Jesus and the Scriptures to see and speak as a Christian, and to teach other Christians to do the same."
--Peter J. Leithart
New St. Andrews College
author of Defending Constantine

"Working with Words displays more clearly than ever before the basso ostinato that is Wittgenstein's imprint on the Hauerwasian dialect . . . This is vintage Hauerwas."
--Jennifer A. Herdt
Professor of Christian Ethics, Yale University

"Whether preaching or teaching, writing or conversing, Stanley Hauerwas serves the Word with words--careful words, bold words, nuanced words, provocative words. . . . Reading Working with Words is its own reward, as are the insights one receives upon its completion."
--Michael L. Budde
author of The Borders of Baptism: Identities, Allegiances, and the Church (forthcoming in the Theopolitical Visions series of Cascade Books).

"Thanks be to God that we are blessed with a God who loves us enough to say something substantial to us. And thanks for Stanley Hauerwas who is able to say so well what God says."
--William H. Willimon
Bishop, The United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama Area

"Stanley Hauerwas is a word provocateur-but always in service to the Word that
is our life and our hope."
--Debra Dean Murphy
author of Teaching That Transforms: Worship as the Heart of Christian Education

"They range wide and deep, offering both priestly affirmation and prophetic critique. Writing as always in his distinctively Christian voice, Hauerwas helps his audience to cease mumbling and fumbling about the Gospel and the Church. Indeed, he leaves us without excuse for speaking anything other than Christian."
--Ralph C. Wood
University Professor of Theology and Literature
Baylor University

Stanley Hauerwas is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School. Publishers Weekly named his memoir, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, one of the Best Religion Titles of 2010.


Product Details

  • File Size: 636 KB
  • Print Length: 342 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608999688
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers (February 16, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005ISYUZ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,072,839 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I often review books that publishers and book-review Internet books send my way, but it's nice once in a while to take a look at a book that I read because I heard about it and bought it. The nice parallel here is that Stanley Hauerwas's recent book Working with Words came about because of people like me, folks who enjoy reading Hauerwas's essays and sermons and who have learned to "speak Christian" to a large extent because of his influence. (I still maintain that I'm not visible enough to constitute part of this particular "mafia," but I do consider it a compliment when folks assume that I might be.) The result of such a book is a collection that does not seem to have any overarching "point" at the outset beyond celebrating the intellectual influences and persistent questions that have animated Hauerwas's significant writing career. At the outset of my review I'll say that this is some of Hauerwas's best stuff, and that's saying something.

The end section of the book (my own favorite section) features a series of essays (some co-authored) on Charles Taylor, H. Richard Niebuhr, Alasdair Macintyre, Thomas Aquinas, Papal Encyclicals, Methodist theology, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Each one features the sort of careful thought and rhetorical swagger that has made Hauerwas such a fun read over the years: to the extent that I'm familiar with each of these texts and writers, I can say that Hauerwas opens up new ways to engage them while remaining true to what their own projects are after, and to the extent that I'm unfamiliar, I came away from each wanting to read more.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Working with Words is a collection of essays, sermons and speeches designed to be an "explicit reflection and exhibition of what it means for theology to be work and, in particular, work with words" (p. x). Hauerwas divides the collection into three parts: (1) "Learning Christian: To See and to Speak," (2) "The Language of Love: From Death to Life," and (3) "Habits of Speech Exemplified: Some Teachers." With the exception of one essay, all of the material in the first two parts was written solely by Hauerwas, whereas the majority of material in the final part is co-authored. The selection of so many pieces originally written or spoken in the last few years is a testament to the prolific nature of his work with words.

The book brings together spoken words (including sermons delivered in multiple churches and chapels, a commencement address at a seminary, and a lecture to teens at a summer youth academy) with written words (articles and essays written alone and with a co-author for diverse audiences). It also brings together material that is highly academic in nature with that which is easily accessible to readers who lack an in-depth theological education.

Working with Words: Learning to Speak Christian is an invitation to think theologically not for the sake of attaining knowledge or refining understanding, but to deepen the reader's Christian vocabulary and embolden her/his discipleship. Read slowly, ponder prayerfully, and embrace wholeheartedly.
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