Sunday, August 28, 2005

A WEEK WITH HAUERWAS, day 7


Hauerwas on sacrifice and justice

The sacrifice to end sacrifices was made by God through the sacrifice of his son, and the ending of sacrifice means that we don't continue to sacrifice other people to make the world come out all right. Justice has been done. We've been given all the time in the world to announce that God would not have God's kingdom wrought through violence. That's good news. It's hard news, but it's good news.

Hauerwas on dissenting:

Right now, dissent is just evaporated. There is no dissent. When you just try to bring critical questions to bear, people get extremely frustrated with you. I don’t think enumerating all the bad things America has done in the world is the way to go. It doesn’t excuse or justify what happened, but it does mean that this is surely a time for stock taking. I mean, America is Rome. We’re an unchecked power. We do not yet know what it means for America to be America without an enemy.

Hauerwas on conservative Christians:

The conservatives, I think, continue to let their views about Christian salvation be policed by their democratic presuppositions. And so they want to have their Jesus without the implications, for example, for living nonviolently. And I just don't think you can do that. And philosophically, as far as I'm concerned, they just don't get it. When they hear me, they keep saying "Well how do you defeat relativism?" They assume if you don't have a theory about how you defeat relativism, then the Nazis are around the corner.

Hauerwas on homosexuality:

For gay Christians who I know and love, I wish we as Christians could come up with some way to help them, like we need to help one another, to avoid the sexual wilderness in which we live. That’s a worthy task. I probably sound like a conservative on these matters, not because I’ve got some deep animosity toward gay people, but because I don’t know how to go forward given the current marriage practices of our culture....

Indeed, if protection from the harmful consequences of unbridled sex is truly a foundation for marriage, homosexuals would seem to have fully as great a need for such protection as heterosexuals. And committed same-sex couples surely could derive the same support the institution of marriage provides to faithful, monogamous, long-term heterosexual relationships--and thus be helped.

Hauerwas on Faith and the Religious Right:

I think President Bush represents the privatized form of Christianity that revels in how important Jesus is for them but wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do if they followed any of the radical demands of the Gospel."

Hauerwas on Patriotism:

Patriotism in most countries is associated with thankfulness to forbearers that made life possible, to a past that has given a tradition of worth. The United States doesn’t want you to be loyal to a land or to a history. It wants you to be loyal to ideals. And those ideals are universal. The kind of patriotism that we see in America cannot help but be a kind of imperialism. It says, ‘This is really what you would want if you were thinking clearly.’ I think that’s deeply perverse.

7 comments:

Zoomdaddy said...

"Right now, dissent is just evaporated. There is no dissent."

I disagree. I believe there is so much dissent right now that there is quite a bit of polarization with few people actually listening to one another. A whole lot of tribalism going on.

"The conservatives...want to have their Jesus without the implications, for example, for living nonviolently."

Kind of stretch to classify all "conservatives" as not pacifist, and all "liberals" as pacifist. Plenty of Brethren, Mennonite, and other historic peace churches who are pacifist but can be classified as conservative, and there are plenty of hawks in the liberal camp.

Homosexual issues...
I agree that there is too much focus on homosexuality as an issue. As a result, it is difficult to steer a clear path which upholds traditional sexual orthodoxy while being sensitive to those who struggle with their sexuality--homosexual or heterosexual. But I don't think the church needs to fall into the trap of redefining marriage to make amends for abandoning the sanctity of the marriage covenant and the sexual act which God uses to seal and bless that covenant.

"I think President Bush represents the privatized form of Christianity that revels in how important Jesus is for them but wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do if they followed any of the radical demands of the Gospel."

He's making a lot of assumptions on the inner workings of Bush's practice of faith that he cannot personally know. Perhaps Bush simply isn't convinced of pacifism, like I am. "Love believes all things." Give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

"The United States doesn’t want you to be loyal to a land or to a history. It wants you to be loyal to ideals. And those ideals are universal. The kind of patriotism that we see in America cannot help but be a kind of imperialism. It says, ‘This is really what you would want if you were thinking clearly.’ I think that’s deeply perverse."

Wait a second, ideals, by their nature make truth claims. And truth, to be truth, must be universal. So to expect ideals to be shared by others is not perverse but actually quite loving. In fact, that's the way Christianity works, as well. The ultimate universal Truth is Jesus Christ, the word made flesh. We want others to share in the truth. Is that imperialism? You can question whether someone's ideals are legitimately universal, valid, or true. But it is slanderous to question the very intentions of desiring to spread those ideals and convince others of their truth by calling it "imperialism." For example, I may not agree that Mohammed is the prophet Islam claims, but a Muslim trying to convince that he is by reasoned argument (not bombs), a genuine relationship with me as a fellow human being, and a life that exhibits Islamic ideals is not imperialism...it is his particular way of showing the bit of love he has experienced himself. And in the love Christ has shown me, it is my duty to show the same respect and disagree with him--explaining why--but still laugh with him, frequent his business, and play a round of golf with him on occasion.

John Wilks said...

His comments on homosexuality reminded me of something Karen Boothe said in her Locust and Honey interview about how seeing homosexual couples in committed relationships is certainly far better than seeing them take the great risks which come from promiscuity.

So even if one holds that homosexuality is sinful, it is still possible to see the good in less-dangerous, more stable forms of the sin simply for the safety of the people involved. After all, we are talking about people who I hope we can all agree God loves, no matter what we think about the morals of their lifestyle and the nature of orientation.

On the other hand, by saying that same-sex unions or marriage is preferable to anything-goes sexuality, do we who uphold the full traditional Christian stance on human sexuality come to close to condone something we find sinful?

Certainly something to chew on for a while anyway.

Thanks for posting these glimpses into Haueras' thinking. I've enjoyed reading these posts very much

St.Phransus said...

thanks y'all.

my whole reason was not to posts things that i entirely agree with but to get folks thinking.

shalom,
jn

John said...

The conservatives, I think, continue to let their views about Christian salvation be policed by their democratic presuppositions. And so they want to have their Jesus without the implications, for example, for living nonviolently. And I just don't think you can do that. And philosophically, as far as I'm concerned, they just don't get it. When they hear me, they keep saying "Well how do you defeat relativism?" They assume if you don't have a theory about how you defeat relativism, then the Nazis are around the corner.

In a way, this quote is a note of praise for it recognizes that it is the modern Right which is defending democracy with the greatest fervor.

St.Phransus said...

john,

that's a plausible way of looking at the quote although I think hauerwas would say that its not a christian's role to defend democracy. the christian's role is simply to be the church.

in fact the church's defense of democracy is problematic for hauerwas. democracy presupposes certain practices that are characteristic not of the church, but the practices of nation/empire.

that's where, in dr. hauerwas' opinion the conservatives get it wrong- they've aligned themselves with the state and not the church. they've bought into a different set of practices- the practices of liberal democratic society and not of the church. but so have liberals- they are like two sides of the same coin.

shalom,
jn

John said...

That's true.

Still, I'd rather live in a society that is dominated by people who appreciate democracy, than those who don't.

Jefferson and friends had a notion that rights are bestowed on man by God and are therefore 'inalienable'. One would have a tough time defending this position Biblically. Nevertheless, the concept is useful.

Even as a agnostic I recognized that even if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him for this purpose alone.

St.Phransus said...

"Still, I'd rather live in a society that is dominated by people who appreciate democracy, than those who don't."


here here my friend- i'm right there with you.