Friday, November 09, 2007

Stanley Harwuz...Hour...Hauerwas

Last night I went to the University of Minnesota to hear Stanley Hauerwas, named America's best theologian by Time Magazine, present the Twelfth Annual Holmer Memorial Lecture.

Wait, wait, come back. Oh alright, go.

About half my readers just walked out of the room. For you remaining few, notice how much elbow room you now have? Spread out; make yourself comfortable.

I went to hear him because he is one of leading advocates for people with intellectual disabilities. For the past 40 years he's written many insightful books that reflect on the lives of people with disability, such as Down syndrome.

He emphasizes friendship and community, as well a life of service to others, as the primary dimensions of what it means to be human and to live humanly. (This, in my opinion, is the main weakness in the ethics of the philosopher Kant, who calls us to treat others as an end instead of means. While this is a good thing, but does not go far enough.)

Last night he was giving a lecture on the role of theology in the university. I won't go into details about it here; he wrote a book on it if you're interested. In brief, he doesn't think theology should be taught as a discipline, but should serve learning by shedding light on how the disciplines are and are not connected. This, he says, must be accomplished without a return to Christendom.

OK. How's it going out there. I see one or two people are still here.

I think I've found a new favorite writer in Dr. Hauerwas. I went up to him afterwards and told him that I appreciated all the work he has done on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities. He seemed affable and gentle, although you wouldn't know it from his talk.

One other thing. Stanley Hauerwas is an outspoken pacifist. Many of you know that I spent some time in the service about twenty years or so ago. Yup, that's me in my Army uniform, doing some jungle school training down in Panama.

I wish I had a few hours to talk with Dr. Hauerwas. I haven't solidified my thoughts on "just war" or outright pacifism, although I'm probably closer to Billy Carter than George W. Bush. I'm constantly torn between William Wallace and Mahatma Gandhi.

Well, I just saw the last person walk out the door.

Anyway, I went to hear a lecture last night. It was cool.


RK said...

Do I get a prize for staying to the end?? No, really, I didn't even get uncomfortable!

Brett said...

Hey Tom, pass the chips, man

Elbog said...

That sounds like er, fun.
Interesting concept - that theology thing. My armchair addition is to say that theology exists in many forms - it depends upon who your god is. I like the idea of 'woriking' it between disciplines (I think it does, already). My degree is in psych, so pick a paradigm, lol.

Tom P. said...

The problem with just war theory is that it can be twisted into making virtually any war into a just war. "We have to invade Iraq because they have WMD." The problem is when you make war an instrument of national policy. "I can't get you to do what I want so I'll invade you." That can never be just and as the Nuremberg trials defined it, it is a crime against peace.

Tricia said...

I'm not the only cricket in the room!

Michelle said...

I come from a long line of Military men and women, and I am proud of them. I am proud of our soldiers today, as well. I believe with everything in me that war sucks out loud. I also believe that some wars are justified and necessary. I also believe our President didnt get us into this war by intentionally lying to us. I think he (and many of his Democratic foes) believed the intel we were given. Does Hillary get a bye for voting for this war, based on the Intel she also believed? People make the best decisions they can with the information they have at hand. The war happened, and once we were in it, pulling out would have meant the Middle East completely devolved, even worse than they already are.
I encourage anyone who believes that no good has come from this war to visit journalist Michael Yon's site and see his unbiased views. He is there, living beside the soldiers. And there is hope.
Well, thats my take on life today. I would have anjoyed the seminar, he sounds like a very intelligent man. And I applaud you for making the time to expand your mind and keep learning. Too many people walk out the proverbial blogdoor when they think they might have to actually ponder anything deeper than the Sunday football games. (Didja SEE those Patriots?)

Tom said...

RK: Here you go! :)

Brett: Thanks for staying, and please, don't double dip that chip.

Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Just one, but the light bulb has to WANT to change.

I'm pro-theology that speaks of God, not about God, if you follow me.

Tom P: Appreciate your view, Tom. I may or may not state my actual position on the just war vs. radical passivity issue on my blog. I doubt it, but would love to chat via email. But then again, I might...

"Alright, Charlie Brown, stop being so wishy-washy."

Tricia: There's a guy sitting down front with some chips if you're hungry. (I told him about the double-dip rule.)

Michelle: Thanks for popping over and for your thoughts; I haven't heard of Michael Yon - will check it out.

Yeah, I've got some military heritage in me as well; my grandpa fought in WWII and I've got a cousin over in Baghdad right now; rough stuff.

I'm glad you threw your thoughts out there on the table, and are willing to grapple with some of the more difficult questions. Look forward to chatting more...

Tom said...

Oops, my cousin is not in Baghdad, but is at Camp Bucca in Iraq. Remembered that on the drive home...

Michelle said...

I am very interested in this war for many reasons, political, personal, you know what I mean. I found Michael Yon early on, and have been so impressed with his honest reporting. At one time, he was touting the "civil war" line, and it scared the pants off me. If MICHAEL says it is so, then I believe it. I had been reading it in the mainstream media for awhile, but seeing that he believed it could happen really hit me. I was almost angry at him, as though he had switched :sides". I always believed he was on MY side, the troops side, even maybe GWBs side. But as I continued to read, even in my frustration with his assessments, I could see that he was only writing what he truly believed, and if I was after the TRUTH (I said I was) then I had better be prepared for that truth to be whatever it was, regardless of political stance. That was the toughest time of this war, not the least of which was caused my my nephew being right in the think of is in Mosul.
I kept reading, because like it or not, his truth was the closest to reality without slant I could find. Now, I read his dispatches gleefully. He is seeing real change there, he has real hope now. From the darkest days of his posts about a little girl named farah (whose picture you will see...and be forever touched by, on his front page) to now, when he shows Muslims and Christians erecting a cross atop a Christian church IN Baghdad...REALLY!....he shows me all of the sides of this war with truth. I hope you will read his stuff, he is amazing. See ya around downsyn. ;)

Carole said...

I love it when Time magazine decides who is the what of the year. Makes it nice for those of us who need help identifying the whozits and the whatzits.

It takes a bigger brain than mine to do much more than enjoy the football games, but I applaud you. Your very tricky though. You don't really tell me how to think, you just give me a couple of bones to chew on.

anne said...

I didn't walk out the door! I'm still here!

anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anne said...

Sorry... I posted my original comment twice, so I deleted the copy. D'oh!

bella said...

As you know, this is the side of you I first came to know, and love.
I always enjoy your thoughts and perspective. So thanks for continuing to share them here.
Mostly, I appreciate that you don't come to absolute or final conclusions, that you are comfortable with not always knowing, with living with questions rather then seeking to always resolve them. You have taught me greatly in this way.
Glad you were able to go listen to this man speak. It sounds like it was a good time.

Tom said...

Michelle: Thanks again, Michelle. That's a powerful picture on his site.. and I had seen the other picture of the cross being lifted somewhere... appreciate it.

Carole: Kibble's n bits, actually.

Anne: Glad you're still here :)

Isabel: It's especially difficult these days to live with some of the questions, but, well let's just say that it's a choice I make. Thanks for the kind thoughts.