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Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (Resources for Reconciliation)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  265 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 115 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by IVP
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Jun 19, 2011 Thomas rated it really liked it
"People right now are dying of hunger, and you are sitting and reading a book. (I, more likely than not, am sitting and writing another one). We have time for this not because we choose to ignore the poor, but because we believe there is a faithful and unfaithful way to feed the poor. And it is worth our time to try and name that. I believe L'Arche is the place where God has made it possible for Christians to learn to be hope in a world where there is no solution. As we say in Texas, that's ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
I probably wouldn't have picked this book up had it not been part of the IVP series that I'm committed to read: Resources for Reconciliation. However, what a powerful read in these relatively few pages. Using the L'Arche community as a paradigm, both Vanier and Hauwerwas urge us to a peaceful way of living through the cultivation of a gentle way of living. This is a book that should be on the reading list of anyone looking for inspiration and direction for living in the countercultural ways of ...more
Mar 30, 2009 Lyndon rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
I thought that this work would showcase the 'softer side of Hauerwas'. I'm glad it didn't. Even in dialogue with Vanier, the theological and political place of the disabled cannot be reduced to sentimental accounts of 'compassion'. To hold weight, there must be more to it than that. Stan and Jean lead us to the place of gift (life as gift, the disabled as gift, community as gift) and in doing so, narrate the central Christian appeal to hope and peace as how we live in a world without either. A ...more
Oct 12, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
One thing that struck me: learning to listen is learning to live non-violently, gently.
Nov 21, 2009 Devon rated it really liked it
I picked this one up after Laura's recommendation, and I've been thinking about a "theology of disability," so I was intrigued to see what Vanier and Hauerwas had to say on the subject. The book was definitely too short, and I liked Vanier's chapters more than Hauerwas', but it was a good intro into the topic. Here are a few of my take-away favorites:

-There are three activities that are absolutely vital in the creation of community. The first is eating together around the same table. The second
Erin Thomas
Jul 03, 2012 Erin Thomas rated it really liked it
While Hauerwas provides the nuts'n'bolts structure attempting to give shape to the body of L'Arche, Vanier is the warm welcome to everyone reading the pages. In a time where polarized views vie for our support, this books was profound for me in the sense that voices for peace, compassion, community and the Gospel were both gentle and emphatic. Make no mistake, however: while Vanier's voice is certainly gentler in tone than Hauerwas', his punches leave the reader just as dazed.

While I highlighted
Matthew Boffey
Jul 08, 2016 Matthew Boffey rated it really liked it
Great little book that stops you in your pragmatism track. Modern society is obsessed with ease and power, yet this is not the concern of Jesus, who says things like, "Blessed are the weak, those who mourn..." and "Weep with those who weep; rejoice with those who rejoice."

But how can I do that and climb the socio-economic ladder at the same time? You can't.

This book takes you inside the minds and hearts of two thoughtful Christian theologians well acquainted with the disabled communities. They
Oct 15, 2014 Colby rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, christian
This is a book which is nearly impossible to meaningfully review. What it presents is not primarily a theological concept or ethical practice but instead a specific real, living community. Living Gently is primarily a discussion about the theological significance of the L'Arche communities and their meaning to the wider church (and the world).

It is a powerful commentary on human dignity, the image of God, pride, humility and witness. Hauerwas and Vanier propose not only that these communities th
Eric Schmidt
Jul 22, 2016 Eric Schmidt rated it really liked it
Absolutely beautiful - I need to read more Hauerwas. I don't necessarily agree with the theological or even political outlook, but the takeaway is great: to live anything like a vital spiritual life, we need to be open to human frailty and weakness. And we need to confront it not in the patronizing sense of curing it or fixing it or self-righteously minimizing it - but instead being comfortable in its presence and open to its lessons. The chapters by Jean Vanier, who founded the L'Arche ...more
Marie Holmes
Aug 08, 2016 Marie Holmes rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book written by people with a beautifully vulnerable heart. Very challenging and thought provoking. How do you be fully present with people in a world where walls of fear are the drive behind the power separation we see all around us? How do we live gently within a wounded world?

A must read for all those seeking to live incarnationally with the vulnerable, the least, the lost and the lonely. Warning, this book will challenge your perspective and change your outlook in life.. What an
Mikael Tindefors
Jan 20, 2013 Mikael Tindefors rated it really liked it
Eftersom jag läste den svenska översättningen så blir min recension på svenska. En överraskande bok, som ger nya perspektiv. Hauerwas balanserar upp Vanier på ett bra sätt, och vice versa. En mjuk sida, och en pragmatisk, teologisk bild. Jag läste boken efter att ha läst Tomas Sjödins "när träden avlövas". Tomas har också skrivit förord till den svenska översättningen. Denna kombination gav ett fantastiskt djup.
Dean P.
Jan 17, 2010 Dean P. rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This short collection of essays by theologian Stanley Hauerwas and L'Arche founder Jean Vanier is a must-read for those wrestling with faith and living. Vanier, who for decades has lived in community with the mentally and physically disabled, provides insight into the joys of living in community with his friends. It is a fantastic call for peace and joy in the world, and Hauerwas particularly reflects how the gentleness of L'Arche should be exemplified in Christian life.
Albert Hong
Jun 23, 2015 Albert Hong rated it liked it
Reading this, I'm reminded how much I am moved by Jean Vanier's words and the witness of the ministry of L'Arche. Beautiful reflections on the gift of every person; and, how the idea of the deep, intrinsic value of each individual as lived out and affirmed through the relationships at L'Arche is a subversive act.

I'm also reminded of how much I appreciate the intellectual rigor of Hauerwas, even as he engages in dialogue that I can barely understand.

Love the pairing.
Nathan Guinn
Jun 08, 2013 Nathan Guinn rated it it was amazing
Hauerwas and Vanier discuss working in L'Arche, a community for disabled people, and how closely connected it is to the Kingdom of God. I enjoyed this immensely, as it is one of the many things I think the church should be laying more attention to.
Oct 21, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Definitely worth reading. I really loved the Vanier parts. Hauerwas was his usual self- sometimes interesting, sometimes deep, sometimes boring, a lot of the time hard to really related to practical life. I really enjoy this subject matter and want to read more of it.
Dec 12, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Read this book for a small group discussion at church. Overall, there were a lot of ideas I really liked in this book, a few concepts I really have never considered before. I must mull things over for a bit.
Jan 02, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
Good book! Its about community and peacemaking and what we can learn about those two topics from the disabled. "Faith in Jesus is trust that we are loved." "It is the experience of becoming a friend of God, and we can't do that alone, we need community, we need friends.
Kyle Strobel
Oct 27, 2011 Kyle Strobel rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book and a great starting point to disability theology. Vanier and Hauerwas are so different and yet their visions for the prophetic power of weakness complement each other perfectly.
Jun 23, 2010 Mandy rated it it was amazing
Jean Vanier is incredible. His thoughts on loving those in the L'Arche community are truly amazing and challenging. This is one man who is truly living out the Gospel.
Mar 03, 2015 Riley rated it it was amazing
This looks at divine in theology. Though it can be applied to any minority or misunderstood group, experiencing violence simply by being different.
Jenn Raley
Mar 31, 2012 Jenn Raley rated it liked it
Shelves: faith
A very short book. Good balance between storytelling and academic analysis. Important read for any person of faith.
Jake Owens
May 16, 2014 Jake Owens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Seriously?! There's a book co-authored by Hauerwas AND Vanier?

Why am I writing a review? This was never going to be anything but perfect. Read it.
Roger Welch
Dec 13, 2010 Roger Welch rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
First reading in an area I need to explore more, especially the care of the dying or those suffering dementia.
Mar 07, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
This is a great little book, well worth reflection. Hauerwas's second essay, though, may be a little too philosophical for some. But struggle through, if needed.
Doutor Branco
May 22, 2015 Doutor Branco rated it really liked it
Shelves: lidos-em-2015
In a world full of pain and wounded, Jean Vanier stands as a real prophet to make anyone uneasy with his gentle way to conquer any battle with a single weapon: love.
Mar 14, 2011 Maggie rated it really liked it
most excellent. inspiring and helping to (re)focus my energy on what i best want to be to others. highly recommended.
Joy Matteson
Joy Matteson rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2014
Edward Pease
Edward Pease rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2013
Andrew rated it liked it
Aug 17, 2009
Phil rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2014
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Stanley Hauerwas (PhD, Yale University) is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of numerous books, including Cross-Shattered Christ, A Cross-Shattered Church, War and the American Difference, and Matthew in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible.

America's Best Theologian according to Time Magazine (2001), though

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“The understanding of time and place that L'Arche represents, which is a challenge to the speed and placelessness of modernity, helps us understand part of the problem we face as the church today. Having lost the power and status we had in societies we thought we had Christianized, we Christians now find ourselves most often on the wrong side of the "progressive" forces of human history. In response, many Christians want to identify with the alleged humanisms produced by speed and placelessness. So the church finds herself saying constantly, "Oh, yes, we support that too! Oh, yes, we think these developments are wonderful."
Who can be against knowing more and more about the genome in order to help us become well before we become sick? It's a deep temptation for the church to say, "Hey, we're on the side of historical progress, too!"
Of course, if you say that L'Arche knows it cannot welcome everyone who has a mental handicap and seeks to offer not a solution but a sign, that doesn't sound like good news in a world built on speed and placelessness. The question then becomes, "Well, does that mean you are against trying to cure cancer?" After all, "progress" we assume means eliminating what threatens to kill us or at least slow us down. But you can cure cancer without eliminating the patient. You cannot "cure" the mentally handicapped without eliminating the patient. L'Arche stands as a reminder that "progress" should not mean eliminating all that threatens us. After all, even if you cure cancer, you are going to die of some other ailment. L'Arche dares in the face of death and by so doing transforms what we mean by "progress.”
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