When I was doing my PhD in Aberdeen I got involved in lots of excellent side-projects. We initiated a 6.30am indoor soccer game every week called “No-Dicks Football” which invited people to enjoy the beautiful game without suffering the beautiful egos that often mar matches featuring 30-something failed maestros. There was “Whisky Fridays” in our office once a month, which invited people to enjoy the beautiful Scottish beverage without worrying that the people you were talking with would be bored by your effusive discussion of theology. I also put a book together with my teachers and friends, Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas.
I promise you, the content is more interesting than the cover.
The book took a few years to put together. It takes the form of a long-running conversation between Brian and Stanley. Stanley is one of the most significant theological figures of the last four decades and his work is commonly mis-read, as much by his fans as by his critics. This book represents a unique attempt to probe the gaps that mark Hauerwas’ work and to discern connections that are easily missed because of the non-systematic way that Stanley has gone about writing. I am obviously biased, but as long as Nicholas Healy and Sam Wells aren’t in the room, I am happy to declare that this is the definitive guide to reading Stanley’s work. Brian is not nearly so well-known, but that, my friends, is a matter of time, and for those who want in close to the ground-floor, this text shows you how remarkable a reader Brock is. Most fundamentally, the work is notable because of its form. It is a conversation. It takes place over years. It is a testimony of friendship and it demonstrates the sort of generous listening that should mark theological deliberation. Even though the Academy insists we all play alone, theology is not a solo sport.
All these ideas and more will be explored on June 30th at the All Hallows campus of Dublin City University at the symposium and book launch the theology department are hosting in honour of this book. It is the first time that Brian, Stanley and I have been on hand to do our “Theological Pals” act outside of Aberdeen. There’ll be 2 short papers by Brock and Hauerwas, lots of time for Q&A, the book will be launched by Enda McDonagh, and we’ll pour wine and toast the joy of theology, friendship, and theological friendship together. Anyone reading this blog should know that they are most welcome to join us.
Your Correspondent, He’s getting the epiphany sweats!