Living Gently in a Violent World

The Prophetic Witness of Weakness

Resources for Reconciliation

by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier

Living Gently in a Violent World
  • Length: 117 pages
  • Published: September 2008
  •  In stock
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-3452-5
  • Item Code: 3452
  • Case Quantity: 84

How are Christians to live in a violent and wounded world? Rather than contending for privilege by wielding power and authority, we can witness prophetically from a position of weakness. The church has much to learn from an often overlooked community--those with disabilities.

In this fascinating book, theologian Stanley Hauerwas collaborates with Jean Vanier, founder of the worldwide L'Arche communities. For many years, Hauerwas has reflected on the lives of people with disability, the political significance of community, and how the experience of disability addresses the weaknesses and failures of liberal society. And L'Arche provides a unique model of inclusive community that is underpinned by a deep spirituality and theology. Together, Vanier and Hauerwas carefully explore the contours of a countercultural community that embodies a different way of being and witnesses to a new order--one marked by radical forms of gentleness, peacemaking and faithfulness.

The authors' explorations shed light on what it means to be human and how we are to live. The robust voice of Hauerwas and the gentle words of Vanier offer a synergy of ideas that, if listened to carefully, will lead the church to a fresh practicing of peace, love and friendship.

This invigorating conversation is for everyday Christians who desire to live faithfully in a world that is violent and broken.

"Church takes time, patience, gentleness, vulnerability, friendship, hospitality, mutuality and peaceableness. In other words, church takes practice--this is the prophetic witness of the L'Arche communities not to the world, but to the church! And this prophetic witness is carried in this book by the gentle voice of Jean Vanier, the polemical one of Stanley Hauerwas, and the wise introduction and conclusion from John Swinton. Here is the prophetic edge that is even at the vanguard of the emerging church!"

Amos Yong, professor of systematic theology, Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and author of Theology and Down Syndrome

"The questions raised and the reflections offered on those questions are indispensible for anyone living with, working with, or reflecting on those with mental disabilities."

David C. Cramer, Ethics Medicine, Summer 2010

"This collection of essays offers a compelling and much-needed challenge to the Church and its members to be a counter-cultural community of people who embrace one another as gifts from God that must be cared for with patience, hospitality, and joy."

Anna Katherine Shurley, Koinonia,

Like the L'Arche communities, this book calls us to a humanism that is tender, patient and present. Its humanism is rooted in the incarnation, for "the Word became flesh to bring people together" (Vanier), and is lived in the church, which proclaims a "politics of gentleness" (Hauerwas).

The Christian Century, December 15, 2009

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas and L'Arche founder Jean Vanier discuss how these caring communities for persons with disabilities can teach the churcha bout peace and acceptance. Full of personal experiences, this easy read makes profound observations about acceptance of suffering and disability, the important of relationship over power, and the slow daily work of creating peace in everyday life.

KB, Mennonite Brethren Herald, October 2009

The world couls use some more dialogue on peace, and these two are happy to lead the way.

Jacob Sahms, The Journal of Student Ministries, May/June 2009

"This little book did not disappoint, offering a brief but compelling argument for the place of weakness in the life of the Church. An important book for our churches to read and reflect upon."

Chris Smith, The Englewood Review of Books (, 2, no. 1

"Agree or disagree, almost every page of this little book is beautifully and thrillingly provocative."

Eric, Between the Trees (, December 15, 2008

"Hauerwas and Vanier insist on the holiness of people with disabilities. . . . the political implications of gentleness in the last chapter is worth the entire book."

Publishers Weekly starred review, October 13, 2008


Series Preface by Series Editors Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice
Introduction: Living Gently in a Violent World
By John Swinton

1. The Fragility of L'Arche and the Friendship of God
By Jean Vanier
2. Finding God in Strange Places: Why L'Arche Needs the Church
By Stanley Hauerwas
3. The Vision of Jesus: Living Peaceably in a Wounded World
By Jean Vanier
4. The Politics of Gentleness
By Stanley Hauerwas

Conclusion: L'Arche as a Peace Movement
By John Swinton
About the Authors
About the Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation
About Resources for Reconciliation


Stanley Hauerwas (PhD, Yale University) is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, Duke University. He was named "America's best theologian" by Time in 2001 and has written consistently about the theological significance of disability.

One of the most widely read theologians of the late twentieth century, his books include Resident Aliens, Wilderness Wanderings, A Community of Character, A Peaceable Kingdom, Sanctify Them in the Truth, With the Grain of the Universe, and A Better Hope.

Jean Vanier (PhD, L'Institut Catholique de Paris) is the founder of L'Arche, an international network of communities where people with and without learning disabilities experience life together as fellow human beings who share a mutuality of care and need. Today over 130 L'Arche communities exist in thirty-four countries on six continents. Jean's books include Community and Growth, Becoming Human, From Brokenness to Community, and Befriending the Stranger.

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