" The parable of the sower is not often considered by those concerned with the loss of the church's status and membership in Europe and America, but it is hard to imagine a text more relevant to the situation of churches in the West. Why we are dying seems very simple. It is hard to be a disciple and be rich. Surely, we may think, it cannot be that simple, but Jesus certainly seems to think that it is that simple. The lure of wealth and the cares of the world produced by wealth quite simply darken and choke our imaginations. As a result, the church falls prey to the deepest enemy of the gospel - sentimentality. The gospel becomes a formula for "giving our lives meaning" without judgment. (Page 129)
Hauerwas is aksing disconcerting questions in his reading of chapter 13. Does Western culture have soil deep enough to grow deep roots? Is the church in the West so identified with the choking entanglements of consumer capitalism and its promised good life that it will inevitably strangle itself?
'Possessed by possession, we desire to act in the world, often on behalf of the poor, without having to lose our possessions...A church that is shrinking in membership may actually be a church in which the soil of the gospel is being prepared in which deeper roots are possible. (Page 130)
This is Hauerwas commenting on the text by assertion - which he owns up to on the first page of the commentary anyway. But I am finding myself irked by his overstatements - until I ask, overstating what? Not the gospel - because the inevitable consequence of that gospel is that it calls in question the very things I hold on to tightest. And, yes, if Jesus is calling me, the church,us, to relinquish all the stuff that chokes, to risk being deepened by deprivation - that sounds like an overstatement, which means it is probably gospel truth.