Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics

by Samuel Wells. Brazos Press, 2004.

Targeting Christian readers with grounding in theology and ethics, Wells first offers a sweeping summary of both historical and contemporary approaches to ethics. Then, to help understand the nature and purpose of Christian ethics, he teaches and applies the language and techniques of theatrical improvisation: forming habits, assessing status, accepting and blocking, questioning givens, incorporating gifts, and reincorporating the lost. Wells contends “Learning to live well is about gaining the right habits and instincts (often in worship), rather than making the right choices” (p. 75). Embedded in the exposition are topics of interest to congregational teachers and leaders, including moral formation, worship, prayer, baptism, Eucharist, biblical interpretation, social ministry, disability, poverty, systematic oppression, and continual reformation. Ordained in the Church of England, Wells served as dean of Duke University Chapel and a research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School before becoming vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.