Charles Marsh is a professor of religion at the University of Virginia
and the director of the Project on Lived Theology. His most recent book is The
Last Days: A Son's Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South.
With the Grain of the Universe: The Church's Witness and Natural Theology By Stanley Hauerwas. Brazos Press, 249 pages, $22.99 T here was once a time when American Protestant theologians were a vital part of the national civic debate. In recent decades, however, theologians have steered their discipline toward a quest for academic respectability, choosing narrow specialization over efforts to influence a wider public. It is a remarkable fact that today, even in a time of terror and warfare, when religious questions once again fill the public square, no one turns to our theologians for help. American believers seek the quieter spaces of church and synagogue, the meetinghouse and the vigil, and the solace of prayer and contemplation. Commentary in The New York Times and The Washington Post since September 11 has kept theological reflection to a minimum: predictable fulminations from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell; a plea from the activist-author Jim Wallis to give peace a chance. For...