Between the Lines: January-February 2002

January 31, 2002

 

François Boucher, the eighteenth-century French artist, objected to the natural world because it was "too green and badly lit." Boucher populated and illuminated a painted world in a way that made the natural world more interesting and comprehensible--which isn't a bad mission for a university magazine (leaving aside the baroque sensibilities).

This issue's cover subject, the Divinity School's Stanley Hauerwas, has his own objections to the state of the world, and his own way of shedding light on the problems of the world. Hauerwas earned Time magazine's label as "America's best theologian." And he was the focus of a campus forum, sponsored by this magazine and featuring William Cavanaugh Ph.D. '96 as his interviewer.

Hauerwas' contributions as a theologian are widely acknowledged. Just as profound is his enduring impact on generations of students--including Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh, in a chapter in The Hauerwas Reader (published by Duke Press), remarks on his former teacher's prodigious working habits, unfailing generosity, absolute honesty, and love of spiritual companionship. Like any good teacher, Hauerwas is as concerned with the formation of character as he is with the transmission of knowledge. All of which means he doesn't exactly shrink from a good argument. As Cavanaugh puts it, Hauerwas "blends into a crowd like a bull blends into a china shop. He is, in the fullest sense of the word, a character, and his personality illustrates one of the central paradoxes of tradition-based community: The more deeply one has been formed by a good community, the freer one is to be oneself."

Sample Hauerwas in the following pages for the thinking of a free spirit--and for some illumination.

--Robert J. Bliwise, Editor