Tag Archives: stanley hauerwas

An IDEAL Evening

ideal pic

The IDEAL Chef Winning Team Celebrates on Stage!

The IDEAL program is easily one of the most delightful discoveries we have made in our brief time at Lipscomb University. IDEAL stands for Igniting the Dream of Education and Access at Lipscomb, which as the website describes, is a program “uniquely designed for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities” who want to receive the full college experience—classes, cafeteria, residence halls, events—alongside traditional students. We noticed this right away when we arrived on campus, and it was love at first sight.

I recently met with Misty and Andrea who lead the charge and, having been properly smitten with their good work, made it clear that I wanted to be invited to anything going on. You don’t have to ask them twice, so last Friday evening my wife and I happily attended the IDEAL Summer Academy Showcase and Dinner. The Summer Academy is a week-long residential summer camp experience for prospective IDEAL students, and the Friday night event was a dinner competition (prepared by the campers) and a show (prepared and performed by the campers). My goodness, it was awesome.

When we left, we both noticed that we had headaches from smiling so much. True story. It was an evening of indescribable joy.

Stanley Hauerwas is a provocative theologian who has written on a wide range of topics, including medical ethics, and I remember his essay on suffering in which he turned a spotlight on those with developmental disabilities and argued that such people threaten the rest of us “because they expose our own fear of weakness and dependence on others.”  He wrote, “[T]hey do not try to hide their needs. They are not self-sufficient, they are not self-possessed, they are in need. Even more, they do not evidence the proper shame for being so. They simply assume that they are what they are and they need to provide no justification for being such. It is almost as if they have been given a natural grace to be free from the regret most of us feel for our neediness.”

Perhaps that glimpse of liberation is why we smiled so much that it hurt last Friday evening. It appears to be an IDEAL way to live.

More vs. Enough

In the mid-1980s, despite pedagogical intentions, Coach Watson’s “Global Studies” course introduced me to The Far Side. We checked in on Gary Larson’s strange mind each day as we perused the newspaper for world events (and/or, read the sports page).

Although impossible to pick an all-time favorite, the cartoon featuring a courthouse broadcast where the reporter said something like, “Dramatic testimony against Mr. Pumpkineater was given today by his sister, Jeannie Jeannie Eatszucchini,” always makes me fall on the floor.

But today, for some reason, one of Larson’s anthropomorphic classics came to mind. Mr. and Mrs. Cow are in the living room, and Mr. Cow is in the easy chair with a beer in front of the television. Mrs. Cow is standing in front of the picture window, a fruit platter by her side, a string of pearls around her neck, and bracelets dangling from an arm holding a glass of wine. She looks over her shoulder and says to Mr. Cow, “Wendell…I’m not content.”

Hee-larious. The drawing itself, the absurdity of the scene, and maybe most especially something about a cow named Wendell is so outlandishly clever.

The disturbing part is when I identify with Mrs. Cow.

Once upon a time in a law school paper on Greed titled, “Enough Already,” I shared Dr. Stanley Hauerwas’s one-word definition of the deadly sin of greed—“more”—and juxtaposed that insatiable desire with the idea of “enough.” “More” vs. “Enough.” I’ll give you one guess which one characterizes my mind most often.

“Enough” is elusive, in part because death comes quickly if taken too far, i.e., life demands more air to breathe; more food to eat; more exercise to stay healthy; more money to pay bills; more goals to achieve; and so on and so forth, but the ability to be satisfied, in a given day or a given moment, is important for mental health if nothing else.

And when you are a cow with a glass of wine and a fruit platter, anything less is just ungrateful.