|Real nerd friends read real nerd books together!|
(Jonathans McRay & Swartz; Hauerwas & Coles)
We're trying to model here the "better together" approach that is in the book itself, which is one that flowed out of the intellectual friendship between the two authors, one a Christian theologian (Hauerwas) and the other a radical democrat and political organizer+theorist (Coles). It only seems right to engage this book in such a way as what the authors call in the preface, the "much greater and more more mysterious profundity whose name is friendship."
That great and mysterious profundity with these two guys began in my final year of studies at EMU, where they were both in their first year of study. Swartz is a successor of sorts to me in that he's currently a dual-degree student in EMU's Center for Justice & Peacebuilding/CJP and Seminary. McRay recently graduated from the CJP after two years of study, and he's currently working on a farm outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia and with the New Community Project's Harrisonburg site. Back in fall 2011, we were all in a CJP course and it didn't take long for a friendship to form, and for my final year in Virginia, I saw a lot of these guys and miss them deeply since moving back to my home state of Iowa.
But thanks to Facebook and Gmail (and my work trips back to Virginia), I've been able to keep connected with these guys around topics of abiding interest to us all (such as my previous post), and we've finally found the time to engage in this particular project, which we've been kicking around for probably about a year. So the "about me" section on the right of the blog has been changed to "about us" and we're going to do this little project here. We're going to read a chapter every week or so, and one of us will lead off with a blog post and we'll have conversation in the comments and follow-up posts.
A note on the two Jonathans: In our e-mail conversations, I refer to Swartz as "Jon" and McRay as "John," and I'll carry that over to these blog posts. Yes, that's confusing, but so are relationships! Plus there's substance here: McRay likes to go by "John" in text because that is the name of his grandfather, and for him this is honoring that lineage. A similar impulse has driven me to regularly put the "R." for "Robert" in my full name when it's listed publicly, in honor of my late maternal grandfather. (Who actually went by his middle name, Dale. See? More confusion! Also see: Prayer for The Farm).
So shortly, John's going to lead us off with our reflections on the introduction to the book. Stay tuned...and please feel free to join in the conversation over the coming weeks, as we share our responses to the book and its implications for the interwoven strands of radical theory and practice.
John at the farm near Keezletown, VA,
holding Buttercup the amazingly tame chicken.
(Photo by Anna McRay)