Divinity School Celebrates Stanley Hauerwas

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hauerwas delivered a keynote address.In honor of Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law, on the occasion of his retirement, Duke Divinity School hosted a private celebration of his life and work. The Nov. 1 event, “The Difference Christ Makes: Celebrating the Life, Work, and Friendship of Stanley Hauerwas,” featured a keynote lecture, “Making Connections,” by Hauerwas and lectures by three scholars who offered papers celebrating and engaging Hauerwas’s contributions to various fields.

Recordings of the four lectures are available on YouTube.

Introducing Hauerwas during the event, Divinity School Dean Richard Hays noted that the two have been friends and colleagues for 23 years. “I continue to be challenged by him and to learn from him as my teacher as well as my friend,” Hays said. Hauerwas, the former Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, retired in July.

Before addressing the papers presented by the other event speakers, Hauerwas summarized the work he has done over his career: “In the shadows of a dying Christendom, the challenge is how to recover a strong theological voice without that voice betraying the appropriate fragility of all speech, but particularly speech about God.”

“If what I have done has any lasting power,” he said, “I suspect it’s from making connections between theological and philosophical commitments that often seem quite surprising, or at least surprising to me, because they have unanticipated implications.”

Jonathan Tran, associate professor of theology at Baylor University, spoke on “Anne and the Difficult Gift on Stanley Hauerwas’s Church,” with Peter Dula, associate professor of religion and culture at Eastern Mennonite University, responding. Jennifer Herdt, professor of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, gave a lecture titled “Truthfulness and Continual Discomfort,” with Charlie Pinches, professor and chair of theology and religious studies at The University of Scranton, responding. Former Dean of Duke Chapel Sam Wells, now vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and visiting professor of Christian ethics at King’s College, London, lectured on “The Difference Christ Makes.”

During the event, the Divinity School also presented Hauerwas with a book of stories and letters that were submitted by his friends and fellow scholars.

Papers presented during the event are expected to be published in 2014.