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4.4 out of 5 stars
26
Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir
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on October 25, 2017
A Magnum Opus of superior depth and faith perspective. It is a fitting "last book" of Hauerwas' illustrious career as a teacher, writer and provocateur of worldly symbols of wealth, privilege and abyss of govermental bumbling. As a one time friend and fellow Texan, I feel a sense of privilege to have met, walked and talked with the one who suggested the "best" was not a theological category when Time Magazine once designated him as "America's best theologian." Those who start out in reading Hauerwas' may or may not complete it. However, those who do will be, in a variety of ways, better for it. Wesley Stevens, United Methodist Minister
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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.

As for the contents, you'll find Hauerwas's story from his humble beginnings, to his growth as a thinker at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, on to Yale Divinity School, and then forward to Yale Graduate School, earning his Ph.D. He tells of his first marriage to his wife, Anne, who suffered from mental illness. And he reflects on his friendship with his son, Adam, whom he considers a great blessing. He tells of his progression from Augustana College to Notre Dame, then on to Duke, and how through the years his thought was influenced by the thought of Barth, Yoder, and Bonhoeffer, to name three theologians he mentions. Along the way he tells of various friendships he established and enjoyed, as well as his growth as a teacher. He tells of his relationship with Paula Gilbert, their marriage, and their involvement in the life of Duke Divinity School. Perhaps most interesting is Paula's influence on Hauerwas in suggesting that he should make prayer a part of his classroom experience at the Divinity School, a development Hauerwas is deeply thankful for.

This memoir is enjoyable reading, particularly for those who are familiar with Hauerwas's theological writings. Who knew that the life of a theologian could be so interesting?
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on May 16, 2010
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.

I found the memoir to be hopeful for for those who might be in academia or theological colleges/seminaries - those younger or older in complex marriages - those new to academia or young in it. Hauerwas's story testifies to the reality that a person can't manage or create a perfect life to become a "Stanley Hauerwas" - each person must simply live life with integrity. Mature and grow with your own life's story.

Hauerwas's story is personal and memorable.

The book is not a must read for many people - but for those in theological/philosophical work within "the academy" - this memoir offers much personal and anecdotal wisdom for thinking about one's own life and profession.
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on August 3, 2013
I think this was one of the best memoirs that I have ever read. It is one of those books that pull you in and wont let you go until you consider the story it has to tell. I could not put it down which meant that I was able to read the entire book in three days. I spent several hours a day reading.

Hauerwas reflects theologically on different aspects of his life which makes this a very interesting read for getting to know the details of what formed Hauerwas and the theology that he has spent his life developing. There are moments while you read this book that will allow you to feel the pain or happiness that is felt by the writer.

I recommend this to people like myself that desire to introduce themselves to this theological giant as well as people in the church who want an inspirational book that stokes the fire in their hearts.
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on June 25, 2010
I simply couldn't put down Hannah's Child. Always touching, never pompously academic and occasionally laugh out loud funny. Fit to be read by every Christian who deems her life too standard or too irregular. Hauerwas doesn't just overcome family and career difficulties, he jumps in graciously, redemptively and faithfully. Could anyone report on his community of friends more honestly or more faithfully present? He incorporates his intellectual life's development and influence all along this story, and we see a unique and truly authentic life revealed.
The book is also like being in a prof's bull session where he sketches out the hierarchy of leading thinkers in the field, and you get priceless insights about who's who and where we're going next. My Amazon Wishlist grew exponentially! Best read of this summer!
BTW, Hauerwas--son of a bricklayer; Father of the Socratic method--son of a stonemason. Fits.
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on January 5, 2018
This was an incredible read for because it caused me to ponder my moral code and to examine my own Christian Pilgrimage. I ventured down roads and read works by some of the named people whom Stanley read...it was a rich experience. This was my top read for 2017, by far.
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on November 13, 2015
I read this because a friend told me Stanley Hauerwas was his favorite author. I enjoyed the author's frankness, unpretentiousness, enjoyment of life, perspectives on suffering and non- traditional ideas. This book will be making me think for a long time.
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on May 22, 2014
I truly enjoy coming in contact with these type of God honoring stories. I am thankful for his sharing of his growing reliance on Christ. I also find it encouraging to see his seeking of accountability within the Church. I will be praying for his efforts as he aims to give God glory through his work in academia for the Church.
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on June 8, 2011
I had never heard of Stanley Hauerwas until I read this book in my book group. This memoir made me feel as if I know him personally. He just lays his life out there, the good and the bad. He has had a remarkable academic career, and written numerous theological works, but seems to be a person you would enjoy spending time with. You read this book for the story of his life, and are introduced to his theological positions at the same time.
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on October 22, 2016
I was inspired a lot.
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