Jean Vanier, a Catholic lay leader, is the founder of L’Arche, an international network of Christian communities where people with and without disabilities share life together in a spirit of mutual dependence. Stanley Hauerwas, an Episcopalian named “America’s Best Theologian” by Time magazine, is a professor of theological ethics at Duke University. In partnership with Duke’s Center for Reconciliation, Vanier and Hauerwas recently published Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (IVP, 2008). In November 2008, they sat down in Durham, North Carolina, to talk about community, justice, and the “politics of gentleness” with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Wilson-Hartgrove, who lives at Rutba House, a new monastic community in Durham, is author of Free to Be Bound: Church Beyond the Color Line (NavPress) and New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church (Brazos Press).
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: Jean, you were trained as a naval officer and as an academic, but you’ve spent most of your life now in L’Arche community. How did you end up in L’Arche?