The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God / Edition 1

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In this book, controversial and world-renowned theologian, Stanley Hauerwas, tackles the issue of theology being sidelined as a necessary discipline in the modern university. It is an attempt to reclaim the knowledge of God as just that – knowledge.

  • Questions why theology is no longer considered a necessary subject in the modern university, and explores the role it should play in the development of our “knowledge”
  • Considers how theology is often excluded from the knowledges of the modern university because these are constituted by an understanding of time necessary to make economic and state realities seem inevitable
  • Argues that it is precisely this difference that makes Christian theology an essential resource for the university to achieve its task - that is, to form people who are able to imagine a different world through critical and disciplined reflection
  • Challenges the domesticated character of much recent theology by suggesting how prayer and the love of the poor are essential practices that should shape the theological task
  • Converses with figures as diverse as Luigi Giussani, David Burrell, Stanley Fish, Wendell Berry, Jeff Stout, Rowan Williams and Sheldon Wolin
  • Published in the new and prestigious Illuminations series.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A first-order theologian turns his sights on one of the most influential institutions in the modern society: the university … Lively reading.” Books & Culture

“This collection is sometimes frustrating … and it raises more questions than it answers. Yet it ought to be read widely, and received as a gift to both the Church and the university. For anyone involved in the work of teaching, this book is a perfect invitation to think through questions of what we are doing and why.” Church Times

“One feels … invited to ruminate alongside the author ... Truly, food for thought.” Cresset

"With characteristic conversational energy, Hauerwas asks his readers to take seriously the difference which those who confess the God of the gospel can bring to institutions of learning. The book grows out of the free, generous and lively wisdom of faith, and deserves to be widely debated." John Webster, King's College, Aberdeen

"Positioning himself against Yale University President Richard Levin's defense of Liberal Education as a crucial source for "the preservation of individual freedom", Stanley Hauerwas asks the obvious but uncomfortable question, freedom for what? If students pass through the courses in the curriculum as consumers and sightseeers, they will replicate and extend the modern malaise of a life lived without reference to anything that makes its moments intelligible. If the university is to be more than a reflection of an atomized society, those who live in it, says Hauerwas, must ask two questions academics either avoid (here I am one of his examples) or answer with empty pieties: what is a university for and whom does it serve? It is the great merit of Hauerwas's book that it refuses to back away from these questions, even as it acknowledges the difficulty of giving a full and satisfying answer to them. A witty, learned , and very human meditation on the relationship between the factories of knowledge and the knowledge of God." Stanley Fish, Florida International University

“This book by an eminent Christian theologian is provocative for thinking fruitfully about our troubled times. Hauerwas has a subtle, learned and compassionate mind, which he brings to bear on the secular state in which we live and on the secular knowledge produced in our universities to serve it. Non-Christians like myself will find reading this book a mind-widening experience.” Talal Asad, CUNY

"Whether one agrees or disagrees with some of the positions Hauerwas stakes out, reading his work is always a bracing intellectual experience - and a deeply Christian one. The State of the University proves no exception. With characteristic theological craftsmanship, humor, and passion, Hauerwas turns his sights on the contemporary university, in all its dignity, wrongheadedness, goodness, and confusion. Anyone interested in the fate of theological knowledge in contemporary society, anyone interested in serious education (or lack thereof) in liberal democracies, anyone who cares for the mission of the church in the twenty-first century will profit considerably from reading and rereading this book." Thomas Albert Howard, Gordon College, Oxford

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405162487
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Series: Illuminations: Theory & Religion Series, #4
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Hauerwas is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University and holds a joint appointment in Duke Law School. He is known to be controversial and outspoken; his stand as a pacifist against the Iraq war made him a nationally recognized dissident but won him few friends. His work cuts across disciplinary lines: systematic theology, philosophical theology and ethics, political theory, as well as the philosophy of social science and medical ethics.

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Table of Contents



1. Theological Knowledge and the Knowledges of the University: Beginning Explorations.

2. Leaving Ruins: The Gospel and Cultural Formations.

3. How Risky is The Risk of Education: Random Reflections from the American Context.

4. The End of "Religious Pluralism:" A Tribute to David Burrell, C.S.C.

5. The Pathos of the University: The Case of Stanley Fish.

6. What Would a Christian University Look Like?: Some Tentative Answers Inspired by Wendell Berry.

7. Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana: Schooling the Heart in the Heart of Texas.

8. Christians and the So-Called State (We Are In): A Meditation on Loyalty after September 11, 2001.

9. Democratic Time: Lessons Learned from Yoder and Wolin.

10. The State of the Secular: Theology, Prayer, and the University.

11. To Love God, the Poor, and Learning: Lessons Learned from Saint Gregory of Nazianzus.

12. Seminaries Are in Trouble: Chastened Reflections on the Centennial of Bethany Theological Seminary.

13. Ordinary Time: A Tribute to Rowan Williams.


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