Hauerwas on Soul-Craft

Thus, I tell my students that I do not want them to earn “to make up their own minds,” since most of them do not have minds worth making up until I have trained them. Rather, by the time I am finished with them, I want them to think just like me. (p.6)

Why should anyone be interested in Christianity if Christians were simply telling them what they already knew on less obscurantist grounds?…my task is to change lives…Christian discourse is not a set of beliefs aimed at making our lives more coherent; rather, it is a constitutive set of skills that requires the transformation of the self to rightly see the world. (p.7)

(American progressivist movement) which assumed that the subject of Christian ethics in America is America. I do not begin with that assumption, but with the claim that the most determinative political loyalty for Christians is the church. (p.11)

It is not enough that we do the right thing rightly, but we must do it for the right reason, with the right feeling, and at the right time. Good politics are about the production and enablement of people being what they appear to be. Yet liberalism produces characters who believe what they do is not who they are…the lack of connection between our being and our doing. It should not be surprising that the “ethical theory” produced in such social orders is not about what is necessary for people to be virtuous, but rather becomes just one or another kind of decision theory. (p.12)

Universities, of course, pride themselves on “freedom of speech,” as well as providing a “safe” place for “radical opinions,” but that is exactly how conflict is domesticated. Namely, you can think and say anything you wish as long as you accept the presumption that you do not expect anyone to take you seriously…Students, as a consequences, approach curricula not primarily as students but as consumers. Teachers are expected to present in class in an objective fashion various alternatives…Students are thus further inscribed into capitalist practices in which they are taught to think that choosing between “ideas” is like choosing between a Sony or a Panasonic. It never occurs to htem that the very idea they should “choose” is imposed. One of the ironies created by the ethos of liberalism is the increased concern for “ethics” as part of university curricula…that make people think they now need a theory to provide reasons to be honest or truthful. (p.13)

I do not see how any course that matters can avoid trying to change students’ lives. The reason most teachers shy away from the responsibility to change our students’ lives, I suspect, is the absence of any sense of legitimacy or authority for that task…The irony is how much time people, in the name of being free, spend supervising their lives to make sure that they do not appear authoritarian or intolerant…(p.15)

One difficulty is that we – that is, most secular intellectuals – cannot name that conflict as religious, since most of us have been trained to believe that religion is a thing of the past or a matter of one’s “private” beliefs…the loss social power of Christians means fewer will be attracted to the ministry and/or the even less enticing work of theology. (p.17)

 

Dispatches from the Front: Theological Engagements with the Secular, Duke, 1994

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