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Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  657 ratings  ·  105 reviews
A loving, hard-working, godly couple has long been denied a family of their own. Finally, the wife makes a deal with God: if he blesses her with a child, she will dedicate that child to God’s service. The result of that prayer was the birth of an influential -- some say prophetic -- voice. Surprisingly, this is not the biblical story of Samuel but the account of Stanley Ha ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published April 16th 2010 by Eerdmans (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Stanley Hauerwas - the blue-collar, cursing theologian - is a beast. I mean this not in the British sense (though he can be that sort of beast if you are on the opposite side of a theological debate with him), but in that he devours books, works with dizzying rapidity, and writes more than most people read.
Yet the "vitae" within his "curriculum vitae" is equally interesting. His life has been a long struggle to understand the God of the Bible within the context of being an apprentice bricklayer
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Splendid book. Hauerwwas is a theologian on the faculty of Duke Divinity School. Texas boy--graduated from Southwestern in Georgetown, TX. His father was a brick layer and so was he. Very powerful voice.

Only book I have ever written quotes from as I read it. Here are some of the passages that caught my attention--

"I have, moreover, tried to live a life I hope is unintelligible if the God we Christians worship does not exist."

"The first task of the church is not to make the world more just but to
Barbara P
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
After hearing Stanley Hauerwas speak at a conference sponsored by Fuller Seminary in Pasadena a couple of weeks ago I bought his book, Hannah's Child. Hauerwas was married to Ann, for 24 years, who lived with Bi-Polar illness. Hauerwas is a theologian who teaches at Duke University and is a noted scholar. Hannah's Child is the memoirs of Hauerwas that include his life with Ann, the family burden of mental illness and his efforts to try and make some theological sense out of mental illness. The m ...more
Nate D.
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hauerwas says many times in different ways something to the effect that he hopes his life doesn't make sense "If the one true God is not fully present in Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ has made all the difference for Stanley Hauerwas and he believes for the world. This memoir explores that difference from his views of the church as a alternative reality, to his long suffering marriage to Anne who was bipolar, to his changing views of ethics and becoming a pacifist. He continually gives thanks to Go ...more
David Szomor
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While reading this memoir. I cried, I laughed and I prayed. When Hauerwas talks about the importance of narrative in theology, this book embodies it. I’m thankful for this mans life and I’m thankful for his friends that got him through all his hardship. The image of theology as laying brick will forever be imprinted on my soul and I hope to grow in patience and virtue because of it.
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hauerwas's memoir, is really that of an extrovert, relating the books and especially the people that formed his thoughts and life. It was a little dry at times in its detailings and his recounting of his life with his mentally ill wife was horrific, but mostly it is a celebration of friendship and an invitation to the church to ignore fads, power, and the desire for control and live in the freedom and uncertainty of Jesus. His pacifism and refusal to bow to nationalistic or capitalistic distorti ...more
Hannah Notess
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I will admit that some of the more intricate theological parts of this book ("I used so-and-so's argument to prove such-and-such in response to so-and-so") were way over my head since I wasn't familiar with the discussions.

But this book answers a big question I always bring to any theology work: How does this person connect their life and their ideas? Where do these ideas come from? That's why I often struggle to read theology and philosophy in the first place - it often seems so divorced from
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
My rating has less to do with the book's quality of literature than it has to do with its character as a memoir. Great literature it's not although there are occasional passages that are worth reading. Hauerwas asked himself numerous times if he ought to write a memoir and this came either at the encouragement of devoted followers or at the self-encouragement of a man who had/has a need to belong in the pantheon of great theologians. There's no question that Hauerwas has been a productive teache ...more
Neil Lettinga
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Stanley Hauerwas’s Hannah’s Child is Hauerwas’ memoir. Hauerwas tells a good story of a theologian who doesn’t really come to faith until well after he’s earned his PhD and has been teaching a writing for a while. He also faces up to some very difficult issues in his life, including marriage to a woman with bipolar disorder and the disintegration of that marriage. I found myself reading chunks of it aloud to my wife through the first two thirds of the book. Once he finds happiness in a second ma ...more
Dave Fagg
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For those who love the work of Stanley Hauerwas, you will love this book. He combines personal narrative with reflections on friendship, God, church, theological education, all of which are suffused with his characteristic humour, lack of bullshit, and straight out refusal to use contractions (e.g. don't, wasn't, wouldn't etc).

The most powerful part of this book is the inclusion of details of his life married to a woman who experienced regular psychotic episodes, and the pain he and his son exp
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this as I held my sick little 9 month old son. For a theologian's memior, I don't think you can ask for much better. I think I was disappointed with how little I disagreed with Hauerwas. His vulnerable honesty was endearing. Hopefully I can come back and share some of the many quotes I appreciated.
Glenn Wishnew III
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hauerwas
Hauerwas at his best — bracing, hilarious and truthful down to the very last page.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I very rarely find a book that I can't put down. This is one of those books.
Simon Robinson
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a memoir, so i had no expectations. This was on the recommended read for a course i am doing. Not sure what relationship it bears to same, but it wound up being a bit of a page-turner. I imagine it could be a little boring to some, as it gets a bit bogged down at times in 'we were here, with these peeps...' But i found it fascinating to read about this world-renowned academic who began his working life at age 7 as a brickie's labourer to his 'white trash' bricklayer dad. Stanley ...more
Jonathan Platter
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
This book has a large number of positive reviews, and my own ramblings will hardly contribute much. I simply want to add that though the writing may be "dry" for a memoir (a quality which unfortunately leads one reviewer to give a largely negative review) it is a fairly lively book of theology. And though the genre is "memoir", the subject is theology.

In an interview on youtube, Hauerwas even states that he wanted to subtitle the book "a theological memoir" but had to change it for the publisher
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I never imagined Hauerwas would write a memoir. I have no reason for thinking this other than I thought he already appeared in all his writings. At least, I thought he appeared. "Stanley Hauerwas" requires describing besides the many tales told by his students or the persona developed by his readers and interlocutors. This book is such a description. Worthwhile in how Stanley places himself in the landscape of Texas, Yale, South Bend and Duke, he provides an account of his life as understood thr ...more
Rod Buchanan
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
In reading Hauerwas' books I wanted to know more about him. And get to know him I did. He holds nothing back and in his earthy style lets you in on his journey. Some may get bogged down with names and infighting of faculty at places they either don't know or care about, but for those somewhat aware of theological/academic figures it holds some interest. Some of these tales drag on a bit. Hauerwas is nothing if not honest, and his life is very interesting. As a side note, I thought it was interes ...more
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
One of the things that mark's me out as abnormal is that I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of one of my favorite theologians memoirs for the past year. This book will likely not seen as his most important book (that would be the Peacable Kingdom), his most popular book (that would be Resident Aliens), but I found it refreshing to hear Hauerwas in his own words share some of his journey as a theologian and revealing the soil that his ideas came to fruition.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, the honesty, but lack of self pity, was very moving. It also communicated a real excitement about theology and why it is so important. Made me want to re-read what I have read of Hauerwas and read more that he has written.
Chris Schutte
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful reflection on Christian growth and faithfulness from one of our most provocative theologians. He is also very humorous - I grinned and chuckled quite a bit, and even laughed out loud several times - not typical responses to theological writing . . .
Dwight Davis
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and transparent memoir. Just what I needed right now.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I admire Stanley Hauerwas, but I do not particularly admire this memoir. The early part of the book about his family and upbringing comes across as superficial, and the sections about how he developed his theology require an advanced philosophical education. If you don’t already know the debate between Barth and Brunner—and there are dozens more examples like this—don’t bother with this part. Of course, there are plenty of people who have deeply considered these distinctions, but Hauerwas could ...more
David Hendricks
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Someone shared a quote from this book in a sermon, and I wrote down the title and decided to read it. I knew Hauerwas taught at Duke, but what I didn't know is that he also taught at Notre Dame with the author of the Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder. Not only does Hauerwas count Yoder as a friend, but their friendship had a profound impact on his thinking. For instance, he credits Yoder with his decision to become a pacifist.

Since I live in South Bend I found it very interesting to read abou
Adam Shields
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: I have been on a memoir kick lately. I have been actively seeking out memoirs of elder christians to glean wisdom. I have been wanting to read more Hauerwas for a while and so I picked this up. It makes me want to read more of Hauerwas' work, so that clearly did some of its job.

He is a fascinating character. He does not like being boxed in to a position, and is outside of many traditional boxes.

We do need more memoir like this, especially from people like Hauerwas that have not h
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book--one that I might have enjoyed better if I were a theologian. Hauerwas's references to the Nieburhs (Richard and Reinhold), Barth, Yoder and other theologians were esoteric and sent me out of his book to cross-reference them. This made it difficult and time-consuming for me to thoroughly enjoy this memoir-ish tome. I would imagine that my husband, a United Methodist clergyman, would really enjoy reading this book. It is not a book that I would imagine most mainstream readers ...more
Jon Beadle
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
What a beautiful book. It’s truly a page-turner. I really give it 3.5 stars. For someone who has not read any of his other work, this would not be an enjoyable read. Since I have read a few of his books, finding myself caught up in his sharp whit and southern charm, I quite enjoyed the memoir.

In an odd way, reading his journey through books and calling helped me clarify some of my own journey, as well as create a strong desire to read Aquinas. We’ll see.
Brandon G. Smith
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The spiritual memoir is probably my favorite genre of book. This is once again proven by Hannah’s Child. One of my favorite theologian’s, Stanley Hauerwas comes thru on telling his story with the wit, wisdom, and yes, profanity that you would expect of him. The painful tales of living with his first wife’s horrible mental illness, to the finding of true love in his second wife, all while going on one theological adventure after another is enough to keep any theologically minded reader engaged.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an immensely beautiful book written with a very personal and honest voice. Stanley Hauerwas recounts the arc of his life, work and thought, uncovering some of the central threads that constitute him and his reality. It is an emotional rollercoaster of a story told through the characteristic, working-class filter that Hauerwas is either lived for or hated for. A must read for any fan of Hauerwas’s work.
Steve Nation
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This was a strange book to read. Stanley Hauerwas and I couldn't be more different - our backgrounds, our personalities, our education, church traditions and theological convictions. I struggled to connect with him as a person as I read this memoir, and I struggled with a number of areas of his life and teaching. But I couldn't put this book down. I found it a very helpful insight into a life that has been influential for so many, including people I know who lean deeply on Hauerwas' writings.
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was not prepared to love this book as much as I did. Wow. What an engaging story. Full of great theological observations, reflections on the nature and meaning of life and death (and how it all relates to a commitment towards non-violence), and profound recollections on the nature of family, friendship, and the church.
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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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