In 1989 while at seminary I read The Peaceable Kingdom by Duke professor Stanley Hauerwas. It changed my life in three ways. First, it showed me that God is met in Jesus, that we have no Jesus except the one given to us by the early Church, and that there is no Church that is not rooted in sacrificial relationships with the poor and mundane relationships with one another. (I already believed these things but hadn't read a single theologian who seemed to believe them too and so was beginning to despair.) Second, it inspired me to read and write academic theology, rather than simply be a parish priest — which was what I had hitherto assumed my life would entirely be. Becoming a writer changed my life. Third, it encouraged me to write books with a similar theme, which brought me into conversation with people at Duke and eventually led to my becoming Dean of Duke Chapel. So it shaped my faith, my imagination, and my career.
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