Sunday, July 18, 2010

From One Benefactor, Diverse Seeds in Theology

From The New York Times-

At the end of “Hannah’s Child,” the gossipy yet very moving new memoir by the theologian Stanley Hauerwas, the author thanks one Alonzo McDonald for financing the sabbatical that made the book possible.

Mr. Hauerwas, the Duke professor whom Time magazine in 2001 called “America’s best theologian,” is a pacifist and an anti-capitalist, and he has what might be called the comprehensive pro-life position, against abortion, war and the death penalty. He also believes that patriotism is a form of idolatry. Yet he calls his angel “a former Marine,” “President Carter’s chief of staff,” and “a capitalist” — all meant as terms of suspicion.

For Mr. Hauerwas’s adoring fans — and his equally numerous critics — this pairing of donor and recipient will at first seem quite odd. But it becomes more understandable when one learns a bit more about the rich, generous, religious and determined Mr. McDonald.

Mr. McDonald is by no means an ecumenical seeker. He helped found the Trinity Forum, an evangelical leadership institute, and he has given money to the Fellowship, also known as the Family, the secretive Christian association. His efforts to prescribe how his money got spent at Harvard led one dean to insist that the terms of the gift be rewritten. But his donations to Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, Duke, Emory, Oxford and Cambridge support a small group of scholars with widely diverging views, men and women united only in their brilliance as students of Christianity.

More here-

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