Theologian Stanley Hauerwas Speaks On Avarice
At Interregnum VI
By Annie Clark, Class of 2012
NEW YORK, April 12, 2010—On April 8th, The King’s College hosted a lecture by Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School. The lecture (and accompanying Q&A) was the finale of Interregnum VI: Avarice. Dr. Hauerwas, named by TIME as “America’s best theologian,” delivered a speech as convicting, controversial, and cultured as the ‘best Interregnum to date’ deserved. He spoke about avarice in modern society, which he traced back to the advent of autonomy as the measure of the summum bonum.
Dr. Hauerwas pricked ears with his Christological interpretation of the Parable of the Talents as a call for worthy stewardship of the Gospel, not necessarily our finances. He further ruffled feathers by questioning whether economic growth should be a society’s primary goal. But the gem at the heart of the lecture was his diagnosis of intellectual avarice in the modern world. He argued that curiosity is a form of this avarice. Curiosity, by striving to master knowledge for individual use, results in autonomy that destroys community. But community enables us to be individuals, as we see in the doctrine of the Trinity. Avarice, through curiosity, ultimately separates us from identity.
The elephant in the room was Hauerwas’s parabolic reading and application of Scripture, resulting in his analogous statement that, “We are all beggars.” As Professor Kreeft reminds students in his freshman logic course, thinking by analogy is the most difficult for modern students. Dr. Hauerwas credited King’s students with the sophistication to follow this mode of thinking, asking us to give the Bible the same credit we give other literature: the possibility of being multi-layered.
In the Q&A, most questions focused on Dr. Hauerwas’ economics, while the best parts of the lecture went ignored. However, some questions did probe the Interregnum theme, such as when a student asked how to combat avarice in personal life. Dr. Hauerwas answered simply, “Learn to be a good friend,” a statement at once applicable and transcendent enough to please any King’s student. Discussion following the event has focused primarily on economic policies. But hopefully, in the spirit of Interregnum VI, the topic of avarice will resurface and Dr. Hauerwas’s call for the summum bonum to be found in Christ-centered community won’t get lost.
For more information about The King's College please contact: