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A Stanley Hauerwas Classic

This is one of my favorite Hauerwas stories. Let me say at the outset that I’m pretty sure the university in question was, in fact, Harvard. I might be wrong about that, but it makes no real difference.

So this one time, Stanley Hauerwas was at Harvard to deliver a lecture and, being there early and still need to do some preparations, set out to find the library. Not finding it he stopped a student and proceeded to ask him, “Excuse me, where’s the library at?”

The student, looking incredulously at him responded, “Sir, at Harvard we don’t end our sentences with a preposition.”

Stanley paused for a moment and then rephrased his question in a more grammatically appropriate manner: “Where’s the library at, asshole?”


  1. erin wrote:

    I’m in love!

    Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  2. That beautiful!

    Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  3. roger flyer wrote:

    Sounds like Raca to me.

    Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  4. I was JUST telling my wife this evening about Hauerwas in this respect, thanks for the perfect illustration! ;-D

    Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  5. Ben Myers wrote:

    That is the best grammatical illustration I’ve ever heard.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 3:25 am | Permalink
  6. Ren Aguila wrote:

    You may be right about that–a similar incident can be found in another movie about Harvard U., With Honors. (Joe Pesci’s character was the one who was involved in a public exchange with a professor.)

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 3:45 am | Permalink
  7. Sports Dave wrote:

    i think i read hauerwas commenting on that story somewhere, something to the effect that it was apocryphal, but that he wished it had actually happened.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 6:55 am | Permalink
  8. Halden wrote:

    Maybe, Dave. I think I got it from some students fairly close to him, though. There definitely are some apocryphal Hauerwas stories out there, though.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  9. Any theologian with apocryphal stories is already a living a legend.

    Hauerwas is the new Chuck Norris.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  10. Aric Clark wrote:

    Stanley Hauerwas could single-handedly kill every living theologian in unarmed combat if he wasn’t a pacifist.

    Stanley Hauerwas could write a better treatise than you on any subject if you recorded him while he slept.

    Stanley Hauerwas once solved Hume’s Trilemma but he couldn’t be bothered to tell anyone.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  11. Nathan Smith wrote:

    Resist the urge to demythologize.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  12. Alain wrote:

    I told this story to my parents from Nebraska who are visiting. They proceeded to tell me what they say is an oft-told Nebraska joke in which a Nebraskan is on a plane, sits next to a woman, and introduces himself, saying, “I’m from Nebraska; where are you from?” The woman responds, “I’m from the East Coast, where we don’t end our sentences with a preposition.” The Nebraskan rephrased: “Where are you from, bitch?”

    All of that is to say that the apparent currency of this joke, with its similar structure to the Hauerwas anecdote, points in the direction of the Hauerwas story being apocryphal. See, the historical-critical method triumphs again!

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  13. Halden wrote:

    Which means we must simply rebrand it as a joke. The possibilities are endless: Stanley Hauerwas, a Rabbi, and a Stripper walk onto the Harvard campus . . .

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  14. JR wrote:

    Hauerwas says on page 133 (in a footnote) in “State of the University” that the story is not true.

    Friday, August 14, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink
  15. Tiny Fat Kiwi wrote:

    Watching a video of Hauerwas speaking at Baylor where he says the story is not true, although he has been introduced 2 or 3 times by folks who recounted the story. Says that he would never use the word “asshole” because as anyone from Texas should know, that’s a term of endearment.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink

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