/* ----- ---- *?

Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War"

To my dear friends Back East, for whom the thought of moving to Montana is beyond consideration because they believe we are far removed from current cultural thought and intellectual stimulation available in more urban areas... let me get this out of my system, right off the bat: I had lunch with Stanley Hauerwas yesterday!

He was here, along with Dr. Clark Gilpin from the University of Chicago, and Dr. Jonathan Ebel from the University of Illinois, as part of the annual Symposium on Religion & Culture at Rocky Mountain College.

That's where I spent some of my time the last couple of days-- sitting like the star-struck theology geek that I am, listening to these scholars ruminate on this year's topic: "Religion & America." They presented their papers on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and were also available for a Q&A panel discussion over lunch on Tuesday afternoon. You can get the gist from the press release, here.

It was a small gathering at the Q&A session, and I was fortunate to have Dr. Hauerwas sit at our table for lunch. Oh, who am I kidding-- it was way cool, and chatting with him was a hoot, and I tried very hard to act like a grownup rather than a wide-eyed fan-girl. I think I mostly succeeded, largely due to his comfortable attitude: he was friendly, personable, and expressed some profound opinions in his delightfully unbridled style. Of course, I was biased in his favor from the beginning of our conversation, when he expressed his approbation of my dear friend and former NT professor, and his kind and brilliant wife.

The title of this post was the subject of Dr. Hauerwas' presentation. The Billings Gazette account can be found here (if it works; links from that paper's website are not always cooperative). If not, here's some food for thought, from notes I scribbled furiously while I was listening:

  • "Everyone confesses that war is horrible, and yet we continue to do it. War has captured the habits of our imagination so deeply that we cannot imagine life without the character of war as a practice, the loss of which would make our lives less full."
  • "We depend on our stories of war to strengthen loyalty to country over other interests, patriotism as the ultimate truth. . . Americans have often killed and died for country, but only rarely have they done so for their faith. . . Religious denominations are permitted to exist, but not to kill, because their beliefs are not officially true."
  • "The great sacrifice of war is not the loss of life, although that is significant. Rather, the great sacrifice of war is the sacrifice of our unwillingness to take life."
  • "Holding up as a positive of war the bond between soldiers, formed by suffering encountered while striving for a higher good, positions war as liturgy. . . emphasizing the soldier's death as the 'ultimate sacrifice' denies the Christian belief of Christ's death as the ultimate sacrifice."
  • "The Christian alternative to war, is worship-- living another way in a war-weary world. If Christians leave the table ready to kill, we fail to witness to Jesus as the end to sacrifice. This is not murdering our faith; it is committing suicide."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Jane Ellen

Nice write-up; I've had the pleasure of lunch with Stanley myself a few times.I've never understood people who describe him as unpleasant.

There is a version of this talk available at


John Rasmussen, Long Island, New York

February 14, 2007 12:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home