In the latest issue of Sojourners there is an interview with Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas about their recent book, Living Gently in a Violent World. One of the best quotes from Stanley is in answer to the question of why he argues that “L’Arche is not a solution but a sign. When so many people want solutions, why do we need signs?”
Because we’re Christians. Christianity is fundamentally a sign that enables you to live when you know no solution. Solutions will always kill people. So we need signs that are witnesses to help us know we’re not abandoned. That’s a politics. It challenges the politics of power which says, “I need to do a violent act now in order to achieve peace in the future.” There is no peace in the future through violence.
I wonder, does this signify a shift in Hauerwas’s thinking? Having read most of his works I always got the impression that he thought the church was a solution to the problem of liberal modernity. Not in the sense that it would make it go away, but that, in being a coherent habitable world over against liberalism, the church provides an alternative reality to live in, a solution.
The shift from the language of solution to the language of sign seems important, though we’ll see if this is really a fundamental shift.
H/T: Adam McInturf