Meeting Stanley

Wunderkammer online magazine has posted an interview — with video clips — of Stanley Hauerwas, who was my theology professor during my doctoral work, and who is working with Margaret on her dissertation. The interview marks the publication of Stanley’s autobiography, Hannah’s Child. Many of us think it’s a pretty peculiar thing for Stanley to do, writing an autobiography; but his long-time insistence on the importance of narrative for identity perhaps sheds light on the rationale.
The interview doesn’t reveal startling or unexpected aspects of Stan’s persona, but it certainly sounds like him. Stanley talks a lot, speaks freely and directly, and the things he says sometimes benefit from the added context and nuancing of his more developed writings. till it would be impossible to overstate the scope of his influence on Margaret and me, both directly through his roles as teacher and adviser, and (especially) indirectly, through the sorts of readings toward which he steered us, and through his attentive appreciation of our own work. Most of all, a gift beyond compare, he has entwined our lives with a company of the best friends a soul could ask for.
Not everyone likes Stan, not everyone agrees with him, and heaven knows his best students frequently depart markedly from what he himself argues (though truth obliges me to note that he has had students who treated his doctrines with oracular authority). But I can’t think of more than one or two scholars for whom I have greater combination of fondness and respect; he puts the pieces of his identity together brilliantly, and (especially to his credit) he tries not to insulate himself from criticism of his faults. Someday I’ll probably get around to reading his autobiography, but for now I don’t feel as though I need to — it’s been kneaded into me.

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