One might begin considering the reception of Stanley Hauerwas’s work in Catholic moral theology by asking: why did both Commonweal and First Things opt to publish reviews of Hauerwas’s memoir Hannah’s Child? What is it about Hauerwas’s theological discussion of his own work that engages an educated Catholic audience of magazines putatively representing both ends of the spectrum? It is not only that both journals actively seek engagement with Protestant voices; nor is it only that Hauerwas has a degree of renown, thanks to Time magazine. It is also exactly what Peter Steinfels alludes to in his review, that Hauerwas is at once disturbing and rewarding for Catholics. Hauerwas is so strongly in support of certain “liberal” Catholic ideals (e.g., that ethics should not be about laws in the way it was perceived pre- Vatican II), so intensely in support of certain “conservative” Catholic ideals (e.g., that tradition and authority should be important aspects of Christian life), and so seemingly dismissive of natural law and state politics that Catholics cannot help but have a kind of unsettled fascination with him and his work.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jana_bennett/4/