Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christian (Theopolitical Visions)

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9781556352973: Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christian (Theopolitical Visions)

In Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary, theologian Stanley Hauerwas and political theorist Romand Coles reflect about possibilities and practices of radical democracy and radical ecclesia that take form in the textures of relational care for the radical ordinary. They seek to shift political and theological imaginations beyond the limits of contemporary political formations (such as global capitalism, the mega-state, and empire), which they argue are based upon both the denial and production of death.

Hauerwas and Coles call us to a revolutionary politics of wild patience that seeks transformation through attentive practices of listening, relationship-building, and a careful tending to places, common goods, and diverse possibilities for flourishing. Both authors translate back and forth across--as well as dwell in the tensions between--the languages of radical democracy and of trial, cross, and resurrection. Engaging each other through a variety of genres--from essays, to letters, to cowriting and dialogue--Hauerwas and Coles seek to enact a politics that is evangelical in its radical receptivity across strange differences and that cultivates power in relation to vulnerability.

The authors argue that there is a strong relation between hope and imagination, as well as between imagination and the encounter with and memory of those who have lived with receptive generosity toward the radical ordinary. Hence, throughout this book they think extensively in relation to specific lives and practices: from Ella Baker and the early Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizing efforts for beloved community and civil rights, to L'Arche communities founded by Jean Vanier, to contemporary faith-based radical democratic organizing efforts in dozens of cities by the Industrial Areas Foundation. Pushing and pulling each other into new and insightful journeys of political imagination, this conversation between a radical Christian and a radical democratic trickster spurs us toward a politics that acknowledges, tends to, and enacts the powers of the radical ordinary.

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About the Author:

Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, Duke University.
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Romand Coles engages in grassroots politics in Durham, North Carolina, and is Associate Professor of Political Science and Germanic Languages & Literature at Duke University. His previous publications include Beyond Gated Politics: Reflections for the possibility of Democracy, Rethinking Generosity: Critical Theory and the Politics of Caritas, and Self/Power/Other: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics.

Review:

This book gives me hope. It takes the conversation over Christianity and democracy in a most welcome direction: away from ism-mongering and abstractions, down to earth, where instructive and inspiring examples can be found. In the practices of people like Ella Baker, Ernesto Cortes, and Jean Vanier, Hauerwas and Coles find intimations of a politics worth emulating. That, it seems to me, is exactly where we should be looking. --Jeffrey Stout, Princeton University, author of Democracy and Tradition (2005)

Romand Coles and Stanley Hauerwas have probed the practices of radical democracy and radical Christianity, respectively, for some years. Here they present a series of exchanges in which each is electrified--both shocked and enlivened--by currents from the other. This book is indispensable for those seeking to animate democratic spirituality. --William E. Connolly, Johns Hopkins University, author of Capitalism and Christianity, American Style (2008)

Organizers and leaders are always looking for tools to develop a deeper conversation between faith traditions and democracy. For those of us who are working to develop institutional strategies, Hauerwas and Coles' work is an important resource. --Ernesto Cortes Jr., Southwest Regional Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation

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