Former HGST professor Benjamin Wall has published an important book on the practical theology of Jean Vanier. The book is entitled Welcome As a Way of Life: A Practical Theology of Jean Vanier (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016). You may have never heard of Jean Vanier, but he took a radical step one day. After seeing the shameful way people with disabilities were treated, he invited three men with several intellectual disabilities to live in his home outside Paris. His goal was to live with them in authentic Christian community. The results were revolutionary for Jean and those he invited to live life together. From that small step, over 147 communities now exist for disabled people all over the world. The communities are called L’Arche (The Ark).
Benjamin Wall has noticed the tremendous step taken by Jean and given us a well written, practical exploration of his theology and practice. Wall works through the writings of Vanier to explore what it means to be and become human. Welcome embodies hospitality in ways other acts or gestures can or do not. It incarnates the life of Jesus, puts flesh on the Beatitudes, and proclaims the message of the gospel often without words.
Stanley Hauerwas, professor Emeritus of Duke Divinity School, says it simply: “Jean Vanier and his friends have a lot to teach us about the Lord.”