Living Gently in a Dying World

The prophetic witness of weakness

Living Gently in a Violent World: The prophetic witness of weakness. By Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier. IVP Books (2008).

Book review by Christine Guth

Living Gently in a Violent World brings Jean Vanier, a grass roots practitioner of peaceful living, into conversation with Stanley Hauerwas, a well-known theologian, to focus attention on theology embodied in the L’Arche movement founded by Vanier. In L’Arche communities around the world, people with intellectual disabilities and those without disabilities live together, not as caregivers and clients, “but as fellow human beings who share care and need." 

The aim of living gently amidst violence has been essential to Anabaptist identity for centuries. Vanier and Hauerwas call attention to formative practices for gentle living that Anabaptists sometimes overlook. The authors challenge believers in peace to live by a fundamental gospel principle: Those who are weakest and least presentable are indispensable to the church (1 Cor. 12:22). Christians come to faith by concrete experiences of seeing, feeling, and loving God in all things, suggests Swinton in the book’s conclusion. Likewise, he concludes, “peace…needs to be seen to be believed. L’Arche helps us to begin to see what peace looks like.”

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