Reinhold Niebuhr
March 16, 2009 8:16 PM   Subscribe


the other day I met the theologian, Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback, who chased Niebuhr out of Union Seminary. It was very surreal. He was in a coffee shop in 14th Street Heights with two other pastors, talking about how to save the United Church of Christ.
posted by parmanparman at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2009

the article is a great read. i've always loved r niebuhr for other reasons, but now i'll have to read more of his works.
posted by localhuman at 10:04 PM on March 16, 2009

but, lord, do i tire of mr. brooks.
posted by localhuman at 10:06 PM on March 16, 2009

Excerpt from The Irony of American History (1952). A bit of humor:
The crowning irony in this debate about materialism lies in the tremendous preoccupation of our own technical culture with the problem of gaining physical security against the hazards of nature. Since our nation has carried this preoccupation to a higher degree of consistency than any other we are naturally more deeply involved in the irony. Our orators profess abhorrence of the communist creed of "materialism" but we are rather more successful practitioners of materialism as a working creed than the communists, who have failed so dismally in raising the general standards of well-being.
I'm somewhat skeptical that the Obama administration's foreign policy will follow the lines set out by Niebuhr. The idea that the US is not in fact exceptional is extremely difficult for Americans to accept, and I don't see any signs that Obama himself believes this, no matter how highly he regards Niebuhr.
posted by russilwvong at 10:40 PM on March 16, 2009

Mike Wallace interviewed Dr. Niebuhr in 1958; the transcript is at APM's Speaking of Faith website. Good stuff, as is most everything that shows up on SoF.
posted by jquinby at 6:32 AM on March 17, 2009

Wallace: Do you think that because you're a Christian you're a more valuable man in our society, or more worthy in the eyes of God, than an atheist like Bertrand Russell?

Niebuhr: I think I've already answered that, Mr. Wallace. Certainly anybody who says "in the eyes of God" is pretentious. How do I know about God's judgment? One of the fundamental points about religious humility is that you say you don't know about the ultimate judgment. It's beyond your judgment. If you equate God's judgment with your judgment, you have a wrong religion.

This seems like a good Lenten reflection.
posted by jquinby at 6:34 AM on March 17, 2009

Thanks for this post, the latest in a long line of excellent posts - if I see the homunculus imprimatur, I'll read the link even if it's something that would not ordinarily interest me.

homunculus: A+++ would read again!!!
posted by Quietgal at 5:22 PM on March 17, 2009

if I see the homunculus imprimatur, I'll read the link even if it's something that would not ordinarily interest me.

Aha! My evil plan is working. Time for phase two of Operation: Goatse Surprise.
posted by homunculus at 6:14 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

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