Performing the Faith | Stanley Hauerwas

Hauerwas is always challenging and thought-provoking. This work on Bonhoeffer is no different.

In Performing the Faith, Hauerwas uses Bonhoeffer’s life to show how Christians can be creative in their practice of non-violence (of course, that’s an extremely reductive summary). Here are some examples of the sort of brilliance you’ll find:

No account of the Christian life is adequate that ignores the beauty of God’s creation as well as the beauty created in response to that creation we sometimes call art. (22)

Good performers of the Christian faith, like good musicians, are those who have refined the art of allowing themselves to be played by the work even as they perform it. (102)

The failure to live with humility, a failure common to Christian and non-Christian alike, results in a distorted understanding of the way things are. (127)

Insights, even about the human condition, are a dime a dozen. People seldom, and rightly so, are willing to risk their lives or even make a small sacrifice on the basis of an “insight.” (139)

I am a pacifist because I think nonviolence is the necessary condition for a politics not based on death. (201)

The most profound chapter in the book was his pacifist response to 9/11. For Hauerwas, the whole response to the terror attacks were derailed when President Bush first brought up the term “war”. That galvanized and misled the entire response to date.

I do have one major frustration with this book, though. It’s not about Bonhoeffer, and it’s not one logical unit. It’s a collection of essays of various levels of academic writing around the theme of non-violence. Bonhoeffer, whose picture and name grace the cover of the book, is only given a two-part essay comprising 39 pages.

Once you understand that, you can give your mind and heart a work-out with these incisive essays.

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