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Hannah's Child
A Theologian's Memoir
HARDCOVER; Published: 4/16/2010
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6487-1
Price: $ 25.00
308 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6x9
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Riveting reflections by a world-renowned theologian on his lifelong journey of faith

This story about faith begins with a poor Texas couple --a hardworking bricklayer and his hopeful wife -- who have long had no children. Finally, the wife makes a Hannah-like deal with God: if he blesses her with a baby, she will dedicate that child to God's service. The result of that prayer was the birth of an influential -- some say prophetic -- voice. This is the story of Stanley Hauerwas, once named by Time magazine as the "best theologian in America."

In this riveting memoir Hauerwas gives a frank account of his own life interwoven with the development of his thought. The story of his journey is compelling -- and compellingly told. With humility and transparency he describes his struggle to discover what it means, really, to be and to live as a Christian; the complex reality of being married to someone suffering from severe mental illness; and the gift of friendships that have influenced and formed his character.

Never one to mince words, Hauerwas also gives his unvarnished view of developments in theological education and his insights into the schools where he has served. Throughout the narrative shines Hauerwas's conviction that the story of his life is worth telling only because of the greater Christian story providing foundation and direction for his own.

Publishers Weekly, Best Religion Books
Lauren F. Winner
— author of Girl Meets God
"I love this book because I love its author. But Hannah's Child is about more than the making of someone called 'Stanley Hauerwas.' It is about how one makes and sustains families, and how God and the church make and sustain Christians."
John Milbank
— University of Nottingham
"Stanley Hauerwas, the most important living influence in Anglo-Saxon theology, has given us the story of his journey from blue-collar origins to the heights of academia, in tones that are remarkably at once candid and restrained. The tale has the ring of entire authenticity and it had to be written because Hauerwas's work of writing and his work upon himself are so clearly, as with Michel de Montaigne, one and the same. But in either case, as this book reveals, the work is really an attention and a receiving."
Enda McDonagh
— Maynooth
"From Texan bricklayer to Duke University Professor to internationally renowned Christian Ethicist, Stanley Hauerwas remains a force of nature and grace in the theological world. This memoir, faithful as ever to his roots in title and content, provides personally moving and intellectually exciting insights into Stanley and his work for (critical?) admirers. It should also help his severer critics to understand better and appreciate more this complex and gifted man."
Nicholas Lash
— University of Cambridge
"Stanley Hauerwas's mother, remembering the story of Hannah, prayed to God and dedicated to God the son that was born. Writing this book — not he insists, an autobiography, perhaps a 'memoir' or even, he suggests, 'testimony' — helped him to recognise that he was Hannah's child. Written with searing honesty about his friends, his enemies, his life and work, the darkest chapters narrate the long years of mental illness of his first wife."
Ann Loades
— University of Durham
"A passion for truth-telling, an impeccably clear writing-style, the capacity to go on putting one foot in front of the other no matter what, an inexhaustible energy and appetite for reading, thinking, talking, writing — all these are characteristics of Stanley Hauerwas. So is his love for all those who have made it possible for him to understand himself and his coming to be the Christian that he is. Some memoir! Some theologian!"
Conor Cunningham
— University of Nottingham
"Hannah's Child is a fantastic read that shifts from outright hilarity to profundity seamlessly. Here is a page turning account of one of the most important theologians of the last fifty years, offering us a very personal, insightful and moving story of their life — I simply couldn't put it down. A whole generation of theologians has been inspired and provoked by Hauerwas and without him the intellectual landscape of twenty-first-century theology would be unrecognizable, and thus impoverished; for this reason, among others, we are all Hannah's grandchildren!"
Fergus Kerr OP
— Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford
"Few theologians since Augustine of Hippo have ever tried to put it into words, but there is an internal connection between theology and autobiography: thinking seriously about God is inseparable from self-discovery, as this often funny and sometimes very moving book demonstrates, with the lucidity and raw honesty that one would expect from the author."
Jane Williams
— St. Mellitus College
"Hannah's Child, like St. Augustine's Confessions, is a theological testimony. It is a story of the vitality and thrill of theology, and of the patient, humourous attention of God. As God attends to Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah's child, so the rest of us can begin to understand how God might attend to us, too. Normally, to read a book by and about someone who is a greater thinker, Christian and human being than the reader is a depressing experience. But this is an exhilarating, inspiring, laugh out loud, cry out loud read. By the end of the book, Hauerwas says that what he has learned from writing autobiography is that he is a Christian. What we learn from reading it is that we would like to be, too."
Luke Bretherton
— King's College London
"In the tradition of Augustine's Confessions this extraordinary and compelling book is autobiography as theology. With searing candour and simplicity of speech, Hauerwas set out his journey into faith — a journey that bears witness to what it means to live truthfully amid both great personal pain and the intellectual struggles and challenges confronting Christianity in the contemporary context. An essential insight into what it means to undertake the work of theology today."
Linda Hogan
— Trinity College Dublin
"This searingly honest, searching, sometimes infuriating book captures brilliantly why Stanley Hauerwas continues to be a theologian of note. His sorrows and failings are discussed with as much insight as are his joys and triumphs so that the life that is disclosed is filled with complexity yet characterized by simplicity. Part memoir, part testimony, Hannah's Child is intelligible finally in and through the Christian faith that has marked it, that has marked him, so profoundly."
Lisa Sowle Cahill
— Boston College
"Stanley Hauerwas is the established theologian of Christian faithfulness, perseverance, sacrifice, and the dependence of life's meaning on a coherent narrative, communally sustained. This memoir from the heart teaches further lessons: marriage and family life test faithfulness sorely, and families often bear burdens — here, mental illness — from which no one escapes unscathed, identity intact. In the end, though, we hear Hauerwas's voice in a new key: praise and joy for love and healing that come as gifts of grace."
Archbishop Rowan Williams
"What does it mean to become a Christian? Stanley Hauerwas has written a deeply engaging and courageous memoir that answers the question in terms of his own lifelong discovery of God's presence and challenge through experience both of grace and of darkness, often inseparably bound together. A book of profound compassion, depth and wisdom from one of the greatest Christian minds of our time."
Publishers Weekly
"A rural Texas boy grows up to become Time magazine's 'best theologian in America' — that's the unlikely story behind Hauerwas's arguably destined journey to academic fame. Hauerwas (Resident Aliens) learns that his mother, like Hannah in the Book of Samuel, prayed for the blessing of a child whom she would offer to be in God's service. The theologian then weaves a compelling narrative that incorporates his humble beginnings as the son of a bricklayer, his troubled first marriage to a mentally ill woman, and his industrious intellectual pursuits. The result is a memoir that is both a well-documented story of Christian renewal and a superbly candid investigation into the scholarly mind. Fans of Christian memoirs will be pleased with Hauerwas's frank yet poignant style, and those who are simply fans of the memoir genre will find the book's careful blend of faith and scholarship easily accessible and far from didactic."
Graham Ward
— University of Manchester
"This is a beautiful book and nothing less than a theological anthropology: the formation of a Christian Soul. It is honest, perceptive, cutting through cant, witty and intelligent — all the characteristics we have come to expect of Stanley Hauerwas as a public intellectual. But the best that can be said of it is that even if Stanley Hauerwas was not Stanley Hauerwas, this book would be a theological gift. I put aside the novel I was reading to finish it, immersed in a lifetime of Christian experience distilled into wisdom, and moved by the sheer humanity of it all."
Jeffrey Stout
— Princeton University
"Hannah's Child might well be Stanley Hauerwas's best book. It is must reading for everyone who knows him, either firsthand or through his other writings."
Sarah Coakley
— University of Cambridge
"In this entrancing memoir, Stanley Hauerwas reflects on what he sees as the successes and failures of his life as one of the most celebrated theological ethicists of his time. It is, of course, the accounts of his perceived personal failures that are the most testing and moving: what breaks and stops even his own best motivations and intentions are the stuff of profound Christian reflection. This little autobiography follows triumphantly in the Augustinian tradition of 'Confessions.' "
Alister E. McGrath
— King's College London
"A gripping work, packed with insight, passion, and wisdom. Hauerwas tells the story of his own life in a disarming way, exploring the interplay of theology and life with consummate skill. Few theologians would dare write a book of this kind; Hauerwas manages it precisely because he is so interesting. Highly recommended."
Alan Torrance
— University of St. Andrews
"Courageous, candid and characteristically incisive, this memoir is an invaluable resource for understanding the world's most influential theological ethicist. His reflections on relationships are honest, humorous and often profoundly moving. His telling critiques of the abuse of power in universities are accompanied by impressive testimony to collegial integrity and support. Personally uplifting and theologically inspiring, this is an immensely enjoyable read!"
Giles Fraser
— St. Paul's Cathedral
"Both painfully honest and intellectually daring, Hauerwas places his own story alongside that of his theology to create a magnificent autobiography. Some would call this testimony, others narrative theology at its most convincing. I'd just say it was utterly brilliant."