Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations between a Radical Democrat and a Christian

By Stanley Hauerwas and Romand Coles

A dialogue between theologian and political activist exploring the possible engagement between radical democratic politics and radical Christian thought.

ISBN: 9780718892173


In Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary, theologian Stanley Hauerwas and political theorist Romand Coles reflect about possibilities and practices of radical democracy and radical ecclesia that take form in the textures of relational care for the radical ordinary. They seek to shift political and theological imaginations beyond the limits of contemporary political formations (such as global capitalism, the mega-state, and empire), which they argue are based upon both the denial and production of death.

Hauerwas and Coles advocate a revolutionary politics of ‘wild patience’ that seeks transformation through attentive practices of listening, relationship-building, and a careful tending to places, common goods, and diverse possibilities for flourishing. Both authors translate back and forth across – as well as illuminate the tensions between – the languages of radical democracy and of trial, cross, and resurrection.

Throughout this book they link their themes to specific lives and practices: from Ella Baker and the early Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, organising efforts for community and civil rights, to L’Arche communities founded by Jean Vanier, to contemporary faith-based radical democratic organizing efforts in dozens of cities by the Industrial Areas Foundation.

Engaging each other through a variety of genres – from essays, to letters, to cowriting and dialogue – Hauerwas and Coles seek to enact a politics that is evangelical in its radical receptivity across strange differences and that cultivates power in relation to vulnerability.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 378

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, Duke University.

Romand Coles engages in grassroots politics in Durham, North Carolina, and is Associate Professor of Political Science and Germanic Languages and Literature at Duke University.



1. A Haunting Possibility: Christianity and Radical Democracy / Hauerwas
2. Letter of July 17, 2006 / Coles
3. “To Make This Tradition Articulate”: Practiced Receptivity Matters, Or Heading West of West with Cornel West and Ella Baker / Coles
4. Race: The “More” It Is About: Will D. Campbell Lecture: University of Mississippi, 2006 / Hauerwas
5. Letter of April 16, 2007 / Hauerwas
6. Democracy and the Radical Ordinary: Wolin and the Epical Emergence of Democratic Theory / Coles
7. The Pregnant Reticence of Rowan Williams: Letter of February 27, 2006, and May 2007 / Coles
8. The Politics of Gentleness: Random Thoughts for a Conversation with Jean Vanier / Hauerwas
9. “Gentled Into Being”: Vanier and the Border at the Core / Coles
10. To Love God, the Poor, and Learning: Lessons Learned from Saint Gregory of Nazianzus / Hauerwas
11. Letter of January 8, 2005 / Coles
12. Hunger, Ethics, and the University: A Radical-Democratic Goad in Ten Pieces / Coles
13. Tension and Tricksters: Grassroots Democracy between Theory and Practice/ Coles
14. Seeing Peace: L’Arche as a Peace Movement / Hauerwas
15. A Conversation



Endorsements and Reviews

This book gives me hope. It takes the conversation over Christianity and democracy in a most welcome direction; away from ism-mongering and abstractions, down to earth, where instructive and inspiring examples can be found.
Jeffrey Stout, Princeton University

This book is indispensable for those seeking to animate democratic spirituality.
William E. Connolly, Johns Hopkins University