Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Quotable Hauerwas

"Wounded Healer, blah blah blah blah blah . . . "

November 6th, 2006, during a public lecture titled "Why North Americans Are Afraid to Die."

Hauerwas was making a point about the willingness of medical schools to intentionally form future doctors, and the willingness of seminaries to let their students make up their own curricula. Hauerwas says it best himself:
In our time it is not unusual for students in divinity school to say something like: "I'm not into Christology this year. I really am into relating." In response they are told: "Well, then, you ought to take some more courses in Clinical Pastoral Education. After all, that is what the ministry is really about today [i.e., relating]. So take some courses that will teach you better how to relate."
It is interesting to contrast that kind of response to someone who might enter medical school thinking, "I'm not really into anatomy this year. I'm into relating. I'd like to take some more courses in psychology." The response in medical schools is radically different from that in divinity schools. Such a student is usually told: "We're not really interested in what you're interested in. You either take anatomy or you can simply ship out!"

From Dispatches From the Front: Theological Engagements with the Secular, page 156.
Two excellent questions arise here. Firstly, why are medical schools so willing to form their students into particular moral agents, while seminaries are willing to buy into the idea that we are able, with very little experience, to decide how to best form ourselves into a particular kind of moral agent? I have no answer to this question, though I know the result. What the seminary is unwilling to take, the world is willing to keep, and our existing formation as makers of our own destiny keep consumer spirituality and syncretism alive.

Secondly, what does Christology have to do with moral formation? The answer to this question is easy: Christology has everything to do with moral formation. Further, our formation by Christological narrative has everything to do with our ability to be good pastors. Without knowing who Christ is, and what work Christ has done on our behalf, we will be formed according to the values of a world that values choice without formation. Further, without Christology and the proclamation inherent in Christian living, all we will have left is "relating." But relating to what end? Relating, without proclamation, is the tacit support of a personal truth. This personally derived destiny, without the interrogation of a narrative that tells the story of the whole world and our place in it, will fill the vacuum left by the absence of this particular proclamation, that of the living Christ in our lives.

Hauerwas' visit has made for some good blogging. Check back with Elliot, who has posted this and this. Paul has posted this and this. Catherine has responded to this post of mine. I also need to point you here; Hauerwas' visit meant I got a free gift from the generous folk at Sub Ratione Dei.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Richard said...

Glad the book arrived OK. Dispatches from the Front was my first introduction to Hauerwas so I hold it in particular regard.

Sunday, November 12, 2006 6:02:00 AM  

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