A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

A Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas

September 08, 2022 Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker Season 3 Episode 4
A Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
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A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
A Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas
Sep 08, 2022 Season 3 Episode 4
Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker

Text us your questions!

Stanley Hauerwas. Do we need to say more? The man is the preeminent living American theologian and has formed and shaped Christian thought and practice for decades. Stanley is a gift to the Church, and we loved chatting with him. We talked about sola scriptura, Kierkegaard, pacifism, how to be a Christian in America today, and much more. The audio for this episode is not to our regular standard. We apologize for that, and hope you can hang in there. It's worth it when we're talking to a treasure like Stanley.

The books mentioned in this episode are:

  • Hannah's Child - Stanley Hauerwas
  • Prayers Plainly Spoken - Stanley Hauerwas 
  • Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America - Stanley Hauerwas
  • The Character of Virtue: Letters to a Godson - Stanley Hauerwas
  • Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas - Stanley Hauerwas and Brian Brock
  • War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity - Stanley Hauerwas
  • The Politics of Jesus - John Howard Yoder

We tasted the incredible 12 Year Glenfarclas. Don't pass it by if you find some.

The beverage tasting is at 4:45. To skip to the interview, go to 7:52.

You can find the transcript for this episode here.

Content note: this episode contains some mild profanity.

=====

Join us at Theology Beer Camp 2024!

Get your tickets here to join us in Denver Oct. 17-19. Use code PASTPHIL2024. Let us know if you sign up!

=====

Want to support us?

The best way is to subscribe to our Patreon. Annual memberships are available for a 10% discount.

If you'd rather make a one-time donation, you can contribute through our PayPal.


Other important info:

  • Rate & review us on Apple & Spotify
  • Follow us on social media at @PPWBPodcast
  • Watch & comment on YouTube
  • Email us at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com

Cheers!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Text us your questions!

Stanley Hauerwas. Do we need to say more? The man is the preeminent living American theologian and has formed and shaped Christian thought and practice for decades. Stanley is a gift to the Church, and we loved chatting with him. We talked about sola scriptura, Kierkegaard, pacifism, how to be a Christian in America today, and much more. The audio for this episode is not to our regular standard. We apologize for that, and hope you can hang in there. It's worth it when we're talking to a treasure like Stanley.

The books mentioned in this episode are:

  • Hannah's Child - Stanley Hauerwas
  • Prayers Plainly Spoken - Stanley Hauerwas 
  • Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America - Stanley Hauerwas
  • The Character of Virtue: Letters to a Godson - Stanley Hauerwas
  • Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas - Stanley Hauerwas and Brian Brock
  • War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity - Stanley Hauerwas
  • The Politics of Jesus - John Howard Yoder

We tasted the incredible 12 Year Glenfarclas. Don't pass it by if you find some.

The beverage tasting is at 4:45. To skip to the interview, go to 7:52.

You can find the transcript for this episode here.

Content note: this episode contains some mild profanity.

=====

Join us at Theology Beer Camp 2024!

Get your tickets here to join us in Denver Oct. 17-19. Use code PASTPHIL2024. Let us know if you sign up!

=====

Want to support us?

The best way is to subscribe to our Patreon. Annual memberships are available for a 10% discount.

If you'd rather make a one-time donation, you can contribute through our PayPal.


Other important info:

  • Rate & review us on Apple & Spotify
  • Follow us on social media at @PPWBPodcast
  • Watch & comment on YouTube
  • Email us at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com

Cheers!

Kyle:

Well, hello everyone, Kyle here. You may have noticed already that this is a somewhat shorter episode than usual. And the reason for that is that when you get an opportunity to speak with the guest that we have today, even if it's just 30 minutes, you take it. I also want to give everyone a heads up that the audio quality for our guest today is not quite what we usually aim for. We had a couple of technical glitches, but we did our best to make what you hear as good as possible. Even so, for this one, we recommend maybe listening in a quiet environment with a good pair of headphones if that's possible for you. And if it's not, we always have transcripts available of all of our episodes, which you can find at our website, www.pastorandphilosopher.buzzsprout.com. We hope you enjoy this conversation.

Randy:

I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality.

Kyle:

We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.

Randy:

Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar. So back in college ministry, I was having a fun time figuring out that I could preach and that I loved ministry and all this stuff. And there was this one guy who was just kind of this pain in the ass. And he would say things like, you know what, you guys really shouldn't do communion because you're a parachurch organization. And I was like, what the hell is a parachurch organization man, like, we're just we're just loving Jesus and doing communion. Well, turns out the joke's on me because that guy studied under Stanley Hauerwas and became a theologian, is now a professor and a real deal theologian, Sean Larsen, good to, I hope you're listening.

Kyle:

Did he ever tell you what a parachurch organization was?

Randy:

I found out real quick, yes. The good thing about that connection is that Sean is a friend of mine, and we reconnected recently, and he said, oh, yeah, Stanley is a good friend of mine. I can connect you with Stanley Hauerwas. And I was like, hell yeah you can.

Kyle:

You owe me for the parachurch comment.

Randy:

Absolutely, absolutely. So I am so excited that a really important person within the Christian tradition, who's probably the foremost American theologian right now, who's alive, is going to be joining us on this episode, that we have the privilege of talking to Stanley Hauerwas, because he is a actual gym in the church.

Kyle:

Yeah. And if you think we're exaggerating about that, just Google him, I guess, I don't really know what to tell you, either you know him or you don't

Randy:

Time Magazine literally called him the best living American theologian, to which he said, don't give me that label, because that's not a theological term, best theologian.

Kyle:

Best is not a theological category, yeah. And that was, like, 20 years ago.

Randy:

Yeah.

Kyle:

And so yeah, his, his influence is, is difficult to exaggerate, honestly.

Randy:

It is.

Kyle:

So if you have been touched at all by pushes towards pacifism or even nonviolence within the American church, if you've been touched by strong stances against American nationalism in the church, if you've been touched by thinking about how virtue might impact the Christian faith and what it means to build a character as a Christian, then you've been influenced by Stanley Hauerwas, even if you didn't realize it. I had the privilege to hear him, to see him speak in person a little over 10 years ago. It was one of those things where, you know, it kind of slightly changes the trajectory of how you think about something so that 10 years on, I'm quite a different person than I was then, not solely due to him, but it definitely put a little wedge in there, which was very valuable to me. So.

Randy:

Yeah. I think this is an episode more than others, for me--and I'm going to encourage you, this is just an invitation for you listeners--for me, when somebody like Stanley Hauerwas speaks, I try to put down my, my filter that's trying to assess whether or not I agree with the person--and I like to be right, usually, over and above the person that I'm talking to--when I talk to somebody like Stanley Hauerwas, I try to let that filter go down and just receive what he has to say, just, and that's it. That's not to say that you got to, Stanley has gotten into this realm of perfect understanding of all things and reality; it's just that he's thought about all of these things for longer and better and harder than I have. And I just want to listen.

Kyle:

Yeah, and I think he would want you to eventually put that filter or whatever you want to call it back up and engage him, you know? He definitely is very clear about not wanting to be the kind of famous theologian that just says a thing and then everybody just kind of becomes a fanboy and absorbs it. Like he, you know, he's an old Texas boy, and he just deeply cares about what Jesus wants and how we can be a Christian in America. So I hear what you're saying, as long as we put it back up and do the, do the, yeah, wrestle with what he's saying, for sure.

Randy:

Yep. So you picked something particularly for the episode with Hauerwas, Kyle.

Kyle:

I did so, so I was thinking about what would be a good beverage to represent him. He's from Texas, he writes a lot about being from Texas, it's a big part of the way he approaches theology. And then he's been teaching at Duke University in North Carolina for a long time. Unfortunately, neither of those states produce any decent whiskey. (Burn.)

Randy:

Write us, write us and send us samples if you're from North Carolina or Texas.

Kyle:

So, but then I remembered that he's also got an appointment at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and I thought...

Randy:

They don't make any good whisky.

Kyle:

...I got plenty of scotch. So what I've brought for us, and this is a bottle I just recently acquired, this was a gift from my dear wife, so this is from Glenfarclas, which is probably my favorite Highland distillery, and they're like, an hour and a half from Aberdeen. So seems, seems appropriate. So this is a 12 year old Glenfarclas. It's delicious. I love it. Glenfarclas is known for a couple of things. One, they are one of the only, if not the only, still family-owned distilleries in Scotland. And two, they age everything in sherry butts. So Macallan is kind of known for that; Glenfarclas did it first.

Randy:

You know, the funny thing is about scotch, I'm trying to develop and acquire a taste for scotch that I don't currently have, and the thing that consistently happens every time I smell a scotch and get the nose is it reminds me that we're actually drinking poison.

Kyle:

Yes, yes, yes. Delicious, wonderful poison.

Randy:

But it's rich and sweet and, like, the nose is even full.

Kyle:

Yeah, this one has a really nutty character to me that I don't get in bourbons for sure. It's not super strong, 43%.

Randy:

This is good. There's so many things going on there. The cherry. The barn. The leather. Little bit of smoke. It's not, it's, is this peated?

Kyle:

You know, I couldn't find, I don't think they normally peat, certainly don't always peat. If they peat at all, it's gonna be very, very low in this one.

Elliot:

Doesn't taste like it.

Randy:

It tastes a little briny even too, I would say. This is one of my most palatable scotches I've had, I would say.

Kyle:

Palatable, high praise.

Randy:

Yeah, scotch is hard for me. It's difficult for me to drink and enjoy.

Kyle:

Shis is a Highland, right, so not, like, on the ocean or anything like that, shouldn't have much of the brininess that you get from some of the ones on the coasts or anything like that. And it definitely has that sherry influence, I think that's what gives it the nuttiness.

Elliot:

Yeah, it's really sweet. And I also pick up, like, orange flavors or citrus. Like, if I think about an old fashioned while I drink this, it just, it sits right in that range of really full bodied, sweet, fruity, deliciousness.

Randy:

Yep, it's brilliant, makes me want a pipe or a cigar.

Kyle:

Yeah, man. Another great thing about Glenfarclas is if you can find their higher age versions, so they have like a 21 year, a 25 year, they're way cheaper than the same comparable year would be for, like, Macallan, which has the most similar flavor profile.

Randy:

This is really good.

Kyle:

Yeah.

Randy:

This is really good. All right, well, one more time, what are we drinking?

Kyle:

Glenfarclas 12 year.

Randy:

Cheers.

Kyle:

Cheers. Or sláinte, I guess, as they say.

Randy:

There you go. Well, Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, thank you so much for being with us here on A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar.

Stanley:

My pleasure.

Randy:

Stanley, can you, for our, you know, two listeners who don't know who you are, can you just locate us in the world of Stanley Hauerwas? Who are you, what do you do, what have you been doing, and yeah, could you just tell us about yourself?

Stanley:

I did a PhD in Christian ethics, where I tried to recover the language of character and virtue for how you understand the nature of the moral and religious life. I then taught two years at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, 14 years at Notre Dame, and over 35 at Duke. I've had wonderful students, I've directed a number of dissertations that I think have made a mark. I have been deeply influenced by Wittgenstein and MacIntyre. I've also been deeply influenced by John Howard Yoder, and that's a very ambiguous influence. I have a memoir, if anyone's interested in it, called Hannah's Child that people might look at, who don't know much about, about me. And I've written a number of books. I like to preach, and I have a number of collections of sermons. I have a little book that I like called Prayers Plainly Spoken. If people want to read something, that's, that's a good read, I think.

Randy:

So you've, you know, you taught for a long time at Duke University, among others, you said Notre Dame, and many others. You, Time Magazine has called you, at one point, America's best theologian, which...

Stanley:

The best theologian in America.

Randy:

...best theologian in America, which you quickly rebuffed and said, there's no such thing as a best theologian, which I love.

Stanley:

I said, best is not a theological concept.

Randy:

I love it so much Stan. So we've had biblical scholars on, we've had Samir on as well, Yadav, who's a theologian. So many of us laymen don't know the difference between a biblical scholar and a theologian, the difference between what you do, what you're oriented towards in your studies and what you bring to the world. So could you just tell us briefly about what's the difference between a biblical scholar and a theologian?

Stanley:

Uh, whatever the difference is, it's been disastrous for the church. Biblical, biblical scholars are the result of the discovery of something called history in the 18th century, in a way that you assume that the meaning of the text is what lies behind the text. So you spend all your time trying to re-figure out what the text really means if I understand it in its original Sitz im Leben. I wrote a book called Understanding the Scriptures, and in it, I argued that historical criticism, which I just described, and fundamentalism are just two sides of the same coin. They're both the result of the Protestant heresy of sola scriptura that got turned into sola text by the invention of the printing press. It was then given ideological formation through the creation of something called the democratic citizen, which thinks they can read a text without moral guidance and spiritual formation. So the only thing to do is now take the Bible away from American Christians, because they're far too corrupt to read it. We ought to read it through the eyes of people who have had to pay a price for reading it in the first place. Theology is and should be, I mean originally, theology was fundamentally scriptural exegesis. And I regret that that has been lost. In modernity, theologians were formed to help people see what it was they didn't have to believe to still think of themselves as Christians. I've tried to show how hard it is to believe what Christians believe, to be a Christian. So that's a long

Randy:

No, it's perfect. And I have like four follow up winded answer. questions. I'm only gonna ask one from your, from what you just said. But you just said, you called sola scriptura a Protestant heresy, the Protestant heresy called sola scriptura. Tell us why you think that's so.

Stanley:

Because after you declare your independence from Rome, then what establishes the authority of your position? It has to be some reading of Scripture in Protestantism. It turns out that there are too many some readings of Scripture to act as an authority. That's the reason why Protestants end up not having anything to do with other Protestants. And so sola scriptura becomes a kind of promissory note that cannot be fulfilled.

Randy:

Got it. And for those of you who are a little, you know, kerfluffled right now, just remember, we're talking to Stanley Hauerwas, perhaps the most prominent theologian in America alive right now.

Kyle:

Yeah. So Stanley, something you just said kind of reminded me a little bit of Kierkegaard, which is a good segue into a question that I had, and I wanted to ask you about him anyway. We've talked about him a lot on the podcast and how he kind of, you and him, I think, have similar projects in some ways. He was doing in Danish culture a lot of, I think, what you've been trying to do in American culture over your, the span of your career.

Stanley:

How do you make Christianity odd again in the world?

Kyle:

Exactly, yeah, bringing Christianity to Christendom, as he put it, right? So it seems like you have another similarity too, and that is that there's more than one Stanley Hauerwas in the way that there's more than one Kierkegaard. So you get Kierkegaard's pseudonymous works, where he says a lot of stuff that sometimes contradicts itself. And then you have Kierkegaard's stuff under his own name, which is often just straightforwardly Lutheran, upbuilding, like encouraging people in the faith. So do you think it's fair to say that there are, there's more than one Stanley Hauerwas? Maybe there's the, the one that was in Time Magazine that's kind of known for his pointed critiques of church and culture, you've sometimes called yourself "the turd in the punchbowl." So there's, there's that Stanley Hauerwas. But then, I read your book recently, The Character of Virtue, which is letters that you wrote to your godson, and you get a kind of a different Stanley Hauerwas in that one. It seems to be more, the focus on upbuilding and the virtues, here's what a Christian life could look like. So do you think it's fair that there's, is that a fair reading of you?

Stanley:

I think it is. I don't think those two differences that you name are unrelated--and I'm not suggesting that you were thinking that--but I like to think that I'm only able to write a book like The Character of Virtue: Letters to a Godson because I presume the account of Christianity that is there in the first characterization of my work as trying to make Christianity difficult again in a world that has domesticated it. For anyone, there are obviously several people in every body. So I assume that there are several Hauerwases. I play a lot on, "I'm a Texan." And I am. I don't want to be domesticated by northerners. But so, you know, you play different emphases.

Kyle:

Yeah.

Stanley:

I've had wonderful friends, and every friend makes you different.

Kyle:

Yeah. So what do you think the relationship is between the project of critique--or as sometimes it's known today,"deconstruction," where people are deconstructing their faith by critiquing the systems in which it was formed--what's the relationship between that and the positive building of Christian community? Are they the same project? Do you have to end one before you can start the other one?

Stanley:

You have to do them both at the same time, and their, the emphases are clearly in tension. But I'm only able to do the second, the more constructive, because I'm presupposing a freeing of Christianity from its accommodated character by the first movement. And there's, there's a tension between those two movements. But I think that's what makes it interesting. But you're right, Kierkegaard was a, has been a big influence. I was very fortunate, my first year in seminary--and I went to seminary to find out if stuff was true, not, not to become a minister, because I'm not ordained--but my first year in seminary, I had Paul Holmer's course on Kierkegaard. And I read, I read as much as I could. And of course Mr. Holmer was a philosopher who thought that there were some deep similarities between Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard. And that was very influential. That's still a controversial thesis. Kierkegaard is the kind of figure that you have to live with for your whole life to be able to write about, I mean, he was wickedly critical of people who he said after he was dead, would spend their life writing on Kierkegaard's life. I only have started writing about Kierkegaard in the last 10 years. I have several essays about how to be a Christian in Christendom, is the big challenge.

Kyle:

There's one other thing in your work that reminded me of him, or more, more pointedly, it reminded me of experiences I've had while reading Kierkegaard. So you've said things like, for example, and this is from a book called Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas. You said, "God showed up even in a life as weird as mine, in ways that my life is unintelligible if God is not God." And I've seen that kind of motif--"my life would be unintelligible if not for God"--several times in your work. And I gotta be honest with you, I don't experience that. And in fact, I have kind of the opposite experience. Like, when I read somebody like Kierkegaard and think about my own faith, and then I look back over the experiences I've had of God's presence and the beliefs that I hold and my practices, I don't, like I, it's easy for me to make sense of it without God. And that, that realization has sometimes made me wonder if I in fact am a Christian. So how should I be thinking about that? What does it mean for you to say it's unintelligible?

Stanley:

I'm not a pious person. God just isn't there for me the way God is there for someone like Dorothy Day or God is there for someone like Karl Barth, or God is there for my parents. God just isn't there for me that way. And I take it that that's probably God's doing, because that makes you have to think a hell of a lot about what you mean when you say the word"God." The word "God" is a very dangerous word. And so I don't know what you expect your life would be if you had a more direct relationship with God, but the indirect relationship that you have may be God, because one of the worst things we do is think we know what we mean when we say "God." It turns out to be idolatry, which really will screw up your life. So I, I mean, I'm associated with issues of justice, and virtue, and so on. But what I've always cared the deepest about is how do you know what we say makes us Christians is true? And by appealing to lives that are unintelligible, I mean, Dorothy Day's life is unintelligible if the God she worshipped isn't true. So that's, that's the way I try to think.

Kyle:

Would, would it be fair to translate when you say unintelligible--Dorothy days life is unintelligible if not for the Christian God--would it be a fair translation of that to say that it's unjustified or that it's unmotivated or that it's incoherent in some way? Like, if I'm an atheist, I can look at her life and say, I get it, she believed false things and that's why she lived that way. But maybe that's not what you mean by intelligibility?

Stanley:

Oh I mean that. I mean something like that. And I assume that people who aren't Christians will oftentimes live more lives that we think of as Christians than you and me. But then, God is great, and you and I are not.

Kyle:

Amen to that.

Randy:

Yep. Yep. So speaking of, you know, you just made the statement, something like, the presence of God just hasn't been there for me like it's been for some other people. And I've heard you talk about this reality inside of prayer, and what prayer has been for you, and I've heard you say that prayer is, it didn't come naturally for you like maybe it came for your parents. You had to kind of learn prayer as an exercise almost, and I loved it, I heard you say that "prayer is being patient in a way to let God loose in the world," which is a fascinating concept. Can you just tell us about your prayer life and the way you see prayer? And what does even that mean, that prayer is a way of being patient to let God loose in the world?

Stanley:

Well, I've always loved the Senator from Connecticut, Weicker, when they were having a debate about prayer in public schools in the Senate that was not going to pass, but one of the senators then said, well, they can't have written prayers, why can't they have a moment of silence and call it prayer? Weicker said, no that's against my faith. They said, I thought you were a Christian. He says, I am, I'm an Episcopalian. There are no silent prayers. My prayer life is very much the Book of Common Prayer, where you're taught how to pray. And I am not good at spontaneous prayer. The notion of praying in a way that lets God loose in the world, I learned from a friend Enda McDonagh, who was an Irish Roman Catholic, a moral theologian priest, and I was complaining once, I just didn't know how to pray, and Enda suggested that I thought I could have something of God, rather than God asking something of me through prayer. That's letting God loose. That's how I was thinking.

Kyle:

Yeah. Yeah, I don't know what to think about prayer. So we have to talk about pacifism. We can't have Stanley Hauerwas on the show without talking about your history as kind of the thorn in the side of baptised American militarism, if we want to call it that. So obviously, it would take us way too long to give a full case for pacifism. But can you at least give us kind of a bird's eye view of how you became that? Why are you a pacifist? And how did you become kind of the thorn in the side of the American church in that way?

Stanley:

How I became that was by reading John Howard Yoder's Politics of Jesus, which I think is a book that is compelling, because it shows that nonviolence is not some further implication from the worship of Christ, but worshipping Christ presumes intrinsic to that nonviolence. And of course, I hate the language of pacifism because it's so passive. I don't like the language of nonviolence because it makes peace nonviolent. It's got to be more positive than that. That we have trouble finding language to describe it is an indication of why it's so hard to get a hold on nonviolence. But nonviolence isn't just the absence of violence, but it is the constructive relationship between people in difference in a way that can be very conflictual. The idea that nonviolence is just always peace

Kyle:

Right. and honey just is, I think, a deep mistake, because it's people who are ready to enter into argument in a way that challenges one another without killing one another, seems to me is the way you start thinking about the kind of nonviolence that discipleship is implicated in. The nonviolence that I represent is in the book War and the American Difference. I try to suggest that nonviolence is not a strategy to end war, but war has been ended through the cross of Christ. The issue now is how do Christians live in a world in which war has been abolished by Christ? Not war has been made less likely by how we live, but it's been, it's already abolished. That's the reason why it's so terrorized. I, we could go on and on. I, I try to be very sympathetic with people that conscientiously participate in war, because I think that, as I try to argue in War and the American Difference, the fundamental sacrifice of people is not that they may be killed and their friends may be killed in war, but war exacts a hard demand of the sacrifice of our normal unwillingness to kill. And that is a kind of natural law position. We are created by God in a way makes killing contra our nature. Yeah. So I wanted to ask you about that. I'm curious how you make sense of our evolutionary past in light of the claim that it's part of our natural disposition to not want to kill.

Stanley:

I take it that that's what's called the Fall. We are implicated in predation in a way that we have to have imaginative alternatives. It's hard to imagine a world without our eating of one another. I take it that predation, and particularly between animals, and we're animals, is one of the great challenges to knowing whether Christianity is true.

Kyle:

Interesting. So I have more follow up questions about pacifism, but I just want to say I think your career has very nicely embodied the kind of aggressive, conflictual, but still peaceable stance that you're describing and that Yoder was after. I, I'm, I'm very glad that the theologian most associated with pacifism in the United States is someone who is also known for being rather combative. That makes me happy because it makes...

Stanley:

I don't try, it's just the way it turns out.

Kyle:

Well, it gives me something nice to point to, right, when I say that I'm a pacifist, and somebody assumes that I therefore am willing to roll over in the face of great evil and, and, you know, sort of pretentiously survey it all from my perch and not do anything. So it's nice to have someone to point to that's actually engaged in the argument of trying to make things better.

Stanley:

I mean, if you take the Ukraine right now, it's too late for anyone to be committed to nonviolence in the Ukraine. But if they had had some imaginative attempt to live nonviolently, which means maybe you'd let the Russians roll over you, and then let them try to rule you, you know, be nothing but pains in the ass. That might be one way of responding to unjustified violence.

Randy:

So, you know, you say, did you just say that a creative possibility pre-Russian invasion would have been, let's let them roll over us and rule and be a pain in their ass? Right? Is, that's a, that's an example of a potential way out of the violence that we find ourselves in right now.

Stanley:

Right.

Randy:

When that, when letting Russians or German Nazis or whoever roll over us and, um, you know, we get to be a pain in their ass, when that involves things like concentration camps, and awful awful torture, all that stuff, that's for me when pacifism breaks down. I fully believe in Jesus's call to me as a person to nonviolence. But when it breaks down is when you have these totalitarian tyrants who come in and commit terrible, terrible, you know, sins against...

Stanley:

What made Hitler possible?

Randy:

You tell me.

Stanley:

Lutherans and Catholics. The armies were made up of people who believed what you just said, I have to kill somebody to stop the world from overtaking what we care about. They had no tradition, no one had ever suggested to them that Jesus, that the cross might be God's refusal to use violence to redeem the world. You need to tell that to your church this Sunday.

Randy:

Nice. Okay. I've been challenged by Stanley Hauerwas. I think I have to do it. So Stanley, would you say then, or did you just say, you know, when you said what's happened in the Ukraine has happened and there's not a nonviolent way out. Is that what you said? Like, would that be a stance that you can hold as a pacifist to say we're at a point now where there is no nonviolent way out?

Stanley:

That's right. You're stuck.

Randy:

Okay. I just may have become a pacifist.

Kyle:

Well that was, that was too easy. I'm gonna play devil's advocate because I don't like things being that easy. So while we're on this theme of militarism and the violent overthrow of peaceable government by tyrants, there's a nonzero chance that in the next two or three years American democracy will collapse. And this is something that gives a lot of us a lot of anxiety. And I'm curious if it gives you anxiety. How do you think we should approach that as Christians?

Stanley:

Yeah. It does. I, I have to say that the rise of the Trumpists has been a wake up call for me to remind myself that the rule of law really matters. I certainly do not think that what I stand for in any way means that the rule of law is not to be taken seriously as a way of finding mutual accountability in a world of deep agony. So I, I've become, in the last two or three years, much more interested again in the American project of trying to have a people ruled by laws that make violence secondary.

Randy:

So Stanley, we're, I just want to ask you a few questions, just quick ones. So I've heard you refer to "Constantinian Christianity," in ways that, maybe that's what we're living out now in America. What does Constantinian Christianity mean?

Stanley:

It means that Christianity was made the legal religion of the Roman Empire, and in that process made paganism illegal. And of course, that's coercive. I'm trying to make us, help Christians rediscover that we live by faith, not by Caesar.

Randy:

Again, could ask many follow up questions; we're just gonna leave it there. Can I ask you another simple question? What is the church?

Kyle:

Simple...

Stanley:

Where the Holy Spirit creates a people capable of worshiping God through prayer. That's church.

Randy:

I like that. What does it mean to be Christian in America, Stanley?

Stanley:

To learn to have a sense of humor about our failures.

Kyle:

I have to, I have to follow up on that one. How does a sense of humor make one more Christian?

Stanley:

It helps you say how the king has no clothes.

Randy:

When we talk about the atonement, what would you hope we talk about; when we think about the atonement, what's the proper way of thinking about it?

Stanley:

That we've been made part of the body of Christ through baptism and Eucharist, that's atonement. So, satisfaction accounts are wicked and should be banned.

Randy:

That's what I was hoping for, good. What happens, you spoke of the Eucharist just now, what happens in the Eucharist?

Stanley:

God shows up. We are transformed by what we consume.

Randy:

Hmm. And do you have that experience when you partake in the Eucharist? Is there, does it feel like something mysterious or is it participation in something out of faithfulness?

Stanley:

The latter, and I'm joined by people that make me more than I am.

Randy:

Mmhmm. Now we're cooking. Last, last quick fire question for you, Stanley. What is hell?

Stanley:

Having to do what you want to do.

Kyle:

Can you say more?

Randy:

Yeah, that's very Lewisian, I would say.

Kyle:

Isn't it, yeah.

Stanley:

Well, I don't know that hell is people, but hell is trying to live life as if God does not exist. We all try that in various degrees.

Kyle:

So do you, when Jesus, well, okay, so I don't want to say Jesus talks about hell, but when Jesus talks about destruction being reserved for certain kinds of people, do you think that's what he has in mind?

Stanley:

Yeah.

Kyle:

Interesting.

Stanley:

Who knows? I never try to get behind a biblical verse.

Kyle:

Just let it be what it is.

Randy:

I like both of those answers. Yeah.

Kyle:

Yeah. Can I ask you about, you've written about egalitarianism and, you know, ideas that most, definitely most Americans, but most kind of Western people in general would assume are just obviously, self-evidently good ideas, like egalitarianism, or like freedom, or even justice. And you have pretty provocatively suggested that maybe for Christians, these might actually be bad ideas. What does that mean?

Stanley:

It means that straight up egalitarianism, everyone's treated equally, turns into a form of injustice since we're not everyone, we're very distinct beings with different needs, given different vocations. So egalitarianism is the attempt to maintain the appropriate protections of the differences that must exist if we are to appropriate common goods that require differences between people that egalitarianism otherwise would wipe out. So it's individualism associated with egalitarianism that I'm against.

Kyle:

So, last question for me, I wore this shirt very intentionally, I don't know if you can see it, but it says "Be kind." And this is like Fred Rogers' rules for life, be kind, be kind, be kind. I wore that because of your emphasis on kindness in your book on the virtues. And you say something in that book--this is the Letters to a Godson book--that struck me. And I want to ask you about it. You say, "The great enemy of kindness is sentimentality." What is sentimentality, and how is it an enemy of kindness?

Stanley:

Sentimentality is, when it's all said and done, I just want us all to do what we need and want to do. That's sentimentality. It's the kind of bullshit that evades the morality of most Americans, that"why can't we just all get along?" So I, I say that one of the most calculated forms of cruelty is southern civility, "I just want us all to get along," and so on. So sentimentality is failing to face the difficulty that comes from the fact that each of us in our own way is ready to kill or ready to live peaceably. So sentimentality fails to face the radical character of the way the world is put together.

Kyle:

And what is kindness in contrast to that?

Stanley:

Petting your dog.

Randy:

I like that. Thank you for your time, Stanley. Really appreciate it.

Stanley:

You're welcome. Wish you well. Take care of Sean.

Randy:

All right, will do. Thanks again, really appreciate your time, Stanley.

Kyle:

Well, that's it for this episode of A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar. We hope you're enjoying the show as much as we are. Help us continue to create compelling content and reach a wider audience by supporting us patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher, where you can get bonus content, extra perks, and a general feeling of being good person.

Randy:

Also, please rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, and Spotify. These help new people discover the show and we may even read your review in a future episode. If it's good enough.

Kyle:

If anything we said really pissed you off or if you just have a question you'd like us to answer, or if you'd just like to send us booze, send us an email at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com.

Randy:

Catch all of our hot takes on Twitter at@PPWBPodcast, @RandyKnie, and@robertkwhitaker, and find transcripts and links to all of our episodes at pastorandphilosopher.buzzsprout.com. See you next time.

Kyle:

Cheers!

Beverage Tasting
Interview