Brad East at the LARB:
THIS YEAR STANLEY Hauerwas turns 82 years old. To mark the occasion, he has published a book on Karl Barth, who died at the same age in 1968. The timing as well as the pairing is fitting. Barth is the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, and probably the most widely read of any theologian over the last 100 years. As for Hauerwas, since the passing of Reinhold Niebuhr in 1971, he has been the most prolific, influential, and recognizable Christian theological thinker in American public life. Barth somehow graced the cover of Time magazine in 1962, even though he was a Swiss Calvinist whose books on technical theology are so thick they could stop bullets. Hauerwas has never made the cover, but in 2001 Time did call him “America’s best theologian.” That fall, Oprah even invited him onto her show. In short, given Hauerwas’s age and stature, Fully Alive: The Apocalyptic Humanism of Karl Barth has the inevitable feel of a valediction.