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.
This expanded edition now includes a study guide for individual reflection or group discussion.
"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!"
"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)."
"Theologian Stanley Hauerwas and L'Arche founder Jean Vanier discuss how these caring communities for persons with disabilities can teach the church about peace and acceptance. Full of personal experiences, this easy read makes profound observations about acceptance of suffering and disability, the importance of relationship over power, and the slow daily work of creating peace in everyday life."
"The questions raised and the reflections offered on those questions are indispensable for anyone living with, working with, or reflecting on those with mental disabilities."
"For those interested in a practical, compassionate spirituality rooted in the integrity of the individual, this is a valuable resource."
"This volume provides invaluable resources not only for communities like L'Arche, but for churches. It demonstrates that individuals with disabilities should not be treated as a problem to be solved or as a group of people to do things for, but the importance of living life alongside people with disabilities and allowing them to use their gifts to enrich the lives of others."
"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."
"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."