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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Thirty-six years after his death, Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr seems more alive than ever. Perhaps not since President Jimmy Carter acknowledged Niebuhr's influence in his 1976 campaign has the name been on so many people's lips.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told New York Times columnist David Brooks that Niebuhr is "one of my favorite philosophers." Brooks himself quotes Niebuhr consistently, describing him as a thinker we could use today "to police our excesses" in foreign policy.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne's forthcoming book takes note of the current longing for a new Niebuhr to inspire religious liberals, while GOP hopeful John McCain, in his volume, "Hard Call," wonders what the critic of pacifism during World War II would say today about Iraq. As political theorist William Galston put it recently: "After a period of neglect, Reinhold Niebuhr is the man of the hour."
Niebuhr is widely regarded as one of the most significant Christian intellectuals of the 20th century. Born in 1892 in Missouri to German parents, Niebuhr was ordained in the German Evangelical Church (later part of the United Church of Christ) and taught for more than three decades at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was a founder of the liberal anticommunist lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action, and in 1948, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
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