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4.8 out of 5 stars
Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir
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on 10 September 2013
Stanley Hauerwas is a name I'm not terribly familiar with, though I have seen him mentioned an increasing amount over the last few years. Yet I have still never heard his name mentioned out loud, so I remain unsure how to pronounce his surname. I had not read anything of his previously, though after reading this, I will be endeavouring to read a little more.

This is not a theological tome by any means, the subtitle was what caught me: A theologian's memoir. It seemed fascinating to me to get under the skin of someone who has spent their life studying theology to see what makes them tick, what influences they have had and to see how that has shaped their work. He opens by asking what it means for him to be Stanley Hauerwas.

To answer this question, he goes right back to his childhood in Texas, learning the bricklaying trade under his father's supervision. What may surprise some readers, it certainly surprised me, was that at times Hauerwas opts to maintain authenticity by using the rather coarse language of the building trade. As matter of fact as it might have been, one cannot help but think that Hauerwas encourages the reader to see a little metaphor for his later career as a theologian. In learning the trade, Hauerwas had to work in a time and place when racism was rife. Yet he was working as an equal alongside those who were marginalised, which may well have helped inform his later views. Though the coarse language aside, some of the other turns of phrase made me feel a little uneasy given their racial overtones.

What he doesn't set out to do is to give an itinerary of his life, though the places he visits do form an unobtrusive background. One of the major themes of the book is how Hauerwas dealt with the erratic behaviour of his first wife, all the while developing as an academic. Punctuated by reflective musings, Hannah's Child is a marvellous account of the behind-the-scenes workings of an influential writer and speaker. His love for his son radiates through the book, as does some of the anguish of dealing with psychotic episodes. For much of the book, one may feel overwhelmed looking at the names of writers and other academics that Hauerwas came across and worked with, each having an influence on him in one way or another. One could quite happily put together a reading list to last a few years based on those mentioned.

I cannot recommend this enough to you, whether you are familiar with Hauerwas or, like me, a novice. There is much to prompt one into thinking, not least about the question of what it means to be a christian. But it would not only be to christians that I would recommend this. To those who view religion with a critical eye, this may serve as a helpful insight to see how a theologian works and what it means to the individual.
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on 5 September 2010
For those into theology, especially ethics, this is a first-rate read. Hauerwas tells his life story, painting a picture of himself (and of others) warts and all. Refreshed by his honesty, I enjoyed every page of it and wish I had come across him sooner.
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on 29 September 2014
Fascinating, insightful and very honest memoir into a man with a very different and unique viewpoint. He writes well and with a personal touch here, and generally very accessibly, with just the occasional impenetrable sentence here and there, all of which forms a picture of what he's about, as he swaps between descriptions of the finer points of bricklaying, his relationship with his son, St Thomas Aquinas, Karl Barth, theological doctrines or mental illness. He will drop names all over the place which you can often just allow to float over your head with no difficulties. In fact he focuses possibly more on other people, mainly his friends and family than on himself! This is a very unusual man, but a very engaging and original type of memoir.
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on 25 January 2013
I will state first of all that I am a 'fan' of Hauerwas.
I have read a few of his other books and found them to be challenging and stimulating (particularly 'The Peaceable Kingdom').
In 'Hannah's Child' Hauerwas combines deeply moving experiences from his personal life with deeply insightful theological musings - almost in the same paragraph!
I lapped it up and by the end of the book I felt I had got to know Hauerwas a bit better.
I did actually hear him at Greenbelt at around the same time as reading the book, and hearing his accent helped!
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on 13 October 2013
I read this from cover to cover within days of buying it. Two reasons why you may wish to read it. The first is, as other reviewers have suggested, it is a captivating story of the life and development of a leading theologian. He explains how his many friendships provided the support that enabled him to work through the more difficult times in his life. The second is that Hauerwas provides valuable details of the people and texts that have influenced his thoughts.
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on 16 December 2010
I heard Stanley Hauerwas on radio 4 recently in debate. He was so interesting I decided I wanted to learn more about him, so I bought Hannah's Child.
His strugle with religion was not as complex as I thought it might be and the book focused a great deal on his sick wife and his son.It also became very focused on him
I looked at several of his other books that were more theologicaly based but they were too expensive
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