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Stanley Hauerwas, called “America’s Best Theologian” by Time magazine, will speak on capital punishment 7:30 p.m. today in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights auditorium.

Free and open to the public, the talk is sponsored by the department of religion and supported by the Lyman Coleman Fund.

Hauerwas is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School and also holds a faculty appointment at Duke Law School. In April, 2000, Christianity Today named his book, A Community of Character: Toward A Constructive Christian Social Ethic (Notre Dame Press, 1981), one of the 100 most important books on religion of the 20th century.

Last year, Hauerwas became the first United Methodist theologian to deliver the Gifford Lectures in St. Andrews, Scotland. The Giffords are widely regarded as the world’s most distinguished lecture series in the fields of philosophy, natural theology, and religion. Duke University Press published The Hauerwas Reader, a 752-page collection of essays and book chapters written by the Duke theologian.

Hauerwas, who has honorary doctorates from DePaul University and the University of Edinburgh, has sought to recover the significance of the virtues for understanding the nature of the Christian life. This search has led him to emphasize the importance of the church, as well as narrative, for understanding Christian existence.

His work cuts across disciplinary lines between systematic theology, philosophical theology and ethics, and political theory, as well as the philosophy of social science and medical ethics. His fundamental interest is in building moral discourse within the contemporary Christian community.

Hauerwas is a graduate of Yale Divinity School (B.D. 1965) and Yale University Graduate School (M.A. M.Phil., Ph.D. 1968). He taught for two years at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., before joining the faculty of the University of Notre Dame, where he taught from 1970-1984. He joined the Duke University faculty in 1984, serving as director of graduate studies from 1985-1991.

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