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Thursday, 1 January 2009

The politics of Gentleness

The association of politics with weakness seems strange, n a world where politics is associated with the power of the state, and the activities of political parties. This brief, thought provoking book challenges that association.

Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness By Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier IVP 2008

The exchange between theologian Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier founder of the worldwide L'Arche communitiesexplores how Christians are to live in a violent and wounded world by witnessing prophetically from a position of weakness. The church they argue has much to learn from an often overlooked community--those with disabilities.

Hauerwas has reflected frequently on the lives of people with disability, the political significance of community, and how the experience of disability addresses the weaknesses and failures of liberal society. L'Arche provides a unique model of inclusive community that is underpinned by a deep spirituality and theology and provides an example of an alternative politics. Hauerwas and Romand Coles have already engaged with Vanier as a political thinker in their book Christianity, Democracy and the Radical Ordinary.

Together, in one of the first books in the series Resources for Reonciliation, Vanier and Hauerwas carefully explore the contours of a countercultural community that embodies a different way of being and witnesses to a new order--one marked by radical forms of gentleness, peacemaking and faithfulness.

This is a profoundly challenging book that is addressed first to the church in recalling it to its roots through helping it re-imagine the understanding and practice of power within the church as a political community.

1 comment:

Clair Hochstetler said...

A conference on the same theme was conducted at Duke University back in November by these two gentlemen. Audio recordings are online and I just happened to blog about it yesterday, before seeing your comments here, Doug.