“I hated the hypocrisy that niceness cloaks.”

–Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child, 28

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 10:42 am and is filed under Hypocrisy, quote. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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49 Comments(+Add)

1   Neil    
September 22nd, 2010 at 3:08 pm

ok, so before we discuss the quote we need to dredge up everything about stanley hauerwas that we don’t like right?

but seriously: is he saying that being nice, if it is not what you feel or want to be – is hypocrisy?

2   John Hughes    
September 22nd, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Oh my God. He’s a Methodist! ;-)

3   John Hughes    
September 22nd, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I assume he is speaking of himself. But being kind (nice) is a command and Christian virtue so I think hypocrisy may be a necessary by-product in some situations but in the larger scheme of things is a lesser sin than being an ass.

4   neil    
September 22nd, 2010 at 5:37 pm

that’s why i was confused. unless, as you say, he was speaking of himself.

5   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 22nd, 2010 at 9:29 pm

What’s not to like about Hauerwas? The deeper I get into this book, the more I love the guy. He’s amazing.

6   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 am

#3. Where is being nice a command?

7   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 12:05 am

Ok, so before I get cut and quartered, you won’t find “be nice” in the Bible and a lot of times, being nice goes against what we are called to do in the Bible. John Eldridge does a good job of talking about this in his writing.

8   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 12:08 am

“Be thou nice.”

9   PhilThom    
September 23rd, 2010 at 6:18 am

Being kind and nice is kinda the same thing, don’t you think? ;-)

10   troy    http://www.sheepandgoats.blogspot.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:23 am

Being ‘kind’ is a command, not being nice. See John’s comment (#3).

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32

11   John Hughes    
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:54 am

Kind = nice. Not meant to be a technical translation. :-)

12   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 8:08 am

Yes, but I also think it says something like, “Speak the truth in love.”

Truth, even with love, is not always ‘nice’ or ‘kind.’

13   John Hughes    
September 23rd, 2010 at 8:18 am

#11. True, and I can see a problem if “truth” is being ignored at the expense of mis-placed kindess.

However, I guess to “tell the truth in love” goes to the motive of the truth-telling, are we being helpful or vendictive for example.

Also the “truth” referenced in the Ephesians 4 passage had to do with sharing true doctrine to counter the wind and waves of false doctrine.

14   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 8:28 am

I know exactly what Hauerwas means. I immediately think of people who will be “nice” to your face, but then go say the most horrible things behind your back. We’d all be better off if people simply had the balls to say what they wanted to our face rather than hide behind a facade of niceness.

15   troy    http://www.sheepandgoats.blogspot.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:04 am

Hence every mothers favorite quote: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

16   troy    http://www.sheepandgoats.blogspot.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:08 am

Actually, #14 counters #13. Not that I agree with the quote in #13. Wow, I’ve confused myself.

17   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:14 am


Thank you.


18   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:17 am

I’m not saying I’m encouraging people going around be jerks, but it would be much more people to be honest about their problems with other people to their faces rather than simply talk about them behind their backs. What I’ve found happens a lot in churches or offices is that people will cloak their true feelings in a veil of niceness, but they tear people apart when they’re not around. I think, ideally, we should operate without this sort of guile.

I know it’s almost impossible to imagine what this really looks like because hypocrisy is so ingrained, but I do see glimpses of it every now and then.

19   Neil    
September 23rd, 2010 at 11:39 am

so is that what he’s talking about – people who are nice in a face to face situation, but nasty behind the back?

20   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 12:31 pm

How much kindness can I exhibit before it becomes sin? :cool:

21   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Actually, no I don’t at all.

22   Anne    
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:28 pm

OK. When I meet Mr. Hauerwas, I’ll make sure to knee him in the groin so he doesn’t think I’m a hypocrite.

23   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Yeah, that might be a touch of an illogical argument.

24   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:53 pm

OK. When I meet Mr. Hauerwas, I’ll make sure to knee him in the groin so he doesn’t think I’m a hypocrite.

If you feel the need to knee people in the groin, I think hypocrisy may be the least of your problems.

25   Anne    
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Well, gee, Phil. If I’m nice, I’m being a hypocrite he says. If he doesn’t want nice, give the guy not nice to prove your cred, right. Where’s the bad logic in that?

26   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Well Anne, your premise is that the opposite of being nice is being violent or mean. That’s a faulty premise. Too often nice is code for a person who never actually stands up for anything, in my experience anyhow. Maybe I live in a vacuum.

27   PhilThom    
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I hate the self-righteousness that honesty cloaks.

28   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:56 pm

That would make an excellent one line thought PhilThom

29   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:58 pm

” Too often nice is code for a person who never actually stands up for anything”

Ya gotta love that. And mercy is code for a person who denies justice.

30   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:58 pm

BTW, may I ask how the PhilThom works? Is Phil your first name and Thom your last?

31   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Ya gotta love that.

Why thank you Rick.

32   PhilThom    
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:03 pm

My name is Phillip Thomas. I shorten it like that ’cause it seems more nice. :)

33   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:04 pm

#32 – You compromiser.

34   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:09 pm

See, that’s why I come here because Rick is always so nice, especially to me and others with whom he frequently disagrees.

35   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:12 pm

It’s comments like #26 that make it most difficult to avoid identifying the absurd with satire. I always stumble when I read the absurd. :lol:

36   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I believe you are a voracious reader, I am curious if you have ever read John Eldredge? His book, Wild at Heart in particular deals with this issue. I wonder what your thoughts are about it.
Also, I appreciate you mocking my sincere comments, it helps to remind me of why I often avoid commenting here.

37   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I have read reviews of Eldredge’s books and his theology. Suffice to say I do not espouse his methods, verbiage, or theology.

38   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Yeah, it’s probably a funny thing because I don’t agree with all of his theology either but I think he’s spot on when it comes to this topic. Of course, I agree with large swath’s of what he has to say.

39   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Joe, in all seriousness, I believe we have not come close to draining the resouvoir of “niceness”. And I reject the “he-man” caricature of Jesus as well. You know I really do not subscribe to the Mark Driscoll version of Christ.

And just so there is no confusion, I am 6′5″ – 230 – and I used to be a bar bouncer and ride a Harley.

(I was only making a joke and meant no malice – this time. :) )

40   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Oh, I actually agree with you and Stanley. I don’t think we have actually drained the reservoir of niceness so we agree there.
I’m also not much of a Driscoll fan and don’t really know much about what he actually teaches about Jesus except what I have read second hand so I can’t comment on that.
But I think that Stanley is actually getting to another truth as well that often the “niceness” we show others is no niceness at all.
I think a person can agree with you and Stanley on both statements. I do.

41   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 23rd, 2010 at 10:54 pm

OK, then, what we are speaking of, to me, is fakeness and a facade. I have met mean and nasty people who exhibit the same hypocrisy. You are correct…many times our niceness is just a perfunctory, cultural behavior that is mechanical and redundant.

42   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 23rd, 2010 at 11:21 pm

#37–wow, I’m stunned, Rick disagrees with someone’s theology. Wow!

43   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
September 23rd, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I am curious, do you believe that people will sometimes choose to be nice because it is easier than actually engaging with a person in the issue?

44   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 24th, 2010 at 2:09 am

#43 – Absolutely, and I have done that. But many times people will engage a person and unnecessarily by not nice.

#42 – You never do?

45   Neil    
September 24th, 2010 at 10:48 am

it’s been a long time since i have been so confused by a thread…

…just what is the point of the op quote?

46   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 24th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

#44, Oh, yes. I disagree with yours.

47   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 24th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

#45, Neil, I don’t understand your confusion. It is a one line thought. It is one in a long series of posts I have done called ‘one line thoughts.’

I think maybe some folks read too much into it, and others not enough. Phil captured the idea nicely.

It’s a series of posts designed to highlight things by authors whose books I am reading or have read. That’s all. That’s the point. One line thoughts.

48   John Hughes    
September 27th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

#22, LOL. Anne, If I was single I’d ask you out. :-)

49   neil    
September 27th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

i just wondered what the quote meant in context – that’s all.