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Democracy And Tradition


peacemover
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Has anyone here read or heard about the book Democracy and Tradition by Jeffrey Stout??

 

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In the thoughtful book, Jeffrey Stout, professor of religion and culture at Princeton University, offers a persuasive call to people of faith to join the public square dialogue on important issues such as justice and democracy.

 

He cites the call to this engagement from figures such as John Dewey, Walt Whitman, as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ralph Ellison.

 

Stout also offers an in-depth and persuasive critique of the work of theologians and ethicists John Milbank, Alasdair MacIntyre, and most notably Stanley Hauerwas. He categorizes these three figures as being from the school of "new traditionalists," and also chastises each of them for their anti-liberal polemics. In particular, Stout asserts that MacIntyre influenced Hauerwas in the direction of turning against liberalism, and creating a sort of distorted "straw man" out of the term and, what Stout would argue is a misinterpretation of the term.

 

In the two chapters (6 & 7) on Hauerwas, Stout also uses Hauerwas' own body of work to try and show that in his earlier work, he was more influenced by John Howard Yoder, and his pacifism. Sometime in the late '70s, early 80's, Stout suggests that Hauerwas came under the influence of MacIntyre's anti-liberal, traditionalist approach more and more.

 

Stout also asserts that Hauerwas, with all his emphasis on "character" and "virtue" has neglected, in his more recent writings, an important emphasis on social justice and accountability of the church in public square dialogue.

 

He offers a sort of appeal to Hauerwas to reassert his support of social justice and to seek to spell out more practical applications for his character ethics, while at the same time refraining from his liberal-bashing. Good luck!

 

Stout also cites Karl Barth, who he asserts was quite orthodox in his theological views, but rather inclusive and progressive in his approach to ecumenism and the importance of public square dialogue.

 

All of his points are very interesting, and have merit, but also seem to lack a true understanding of what Hauerwas is truly about as a theologian (as far as his pacifism and core theological beliefs about the Church, etc).

 

Stanley Hauerwas penned a thoughtful reply to Stout that he included as a lengthy postscript to his recent book on the ethics of Bonhoeffer: Performng the Faith. Both works are very insightful and engaging to read...

 

Has anyone else read either book? If so, what did you think?

 

 

Peace,

 

John

Philadelphia, PA

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