Quote if the Week: Reinhold Niebuhr

December 18, 2009
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Meanwhile we are drawn into an historic situation in which the paradise of our domestic security is suspended in a hell of global insecurity; and the conviction of the perfect compatibility of virtue and prosperity which we have inherited from both our Calvinist and our Jeffersonian ancestors is challenged by the cruel facts of history. For our sense of responsibility to a world community beyond our own borders is a virtue, even though it is partly derived from the prudent understanding of our own interests. But this virtue does not guarantee our ease, comfort, or prosperity. We are the poorer for the global responsibilities which we bear. And the fulfillments of our desires are mixed with frustrations and vexations.

—Reinhold Niebuhr, from The Irony of American History

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892—1971) was one of the most influential American theologians of the twentieth century, best known for relating the Christian faith to the realities of modern politics and diplomacy. The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, he is the author of many books, including The Nature and Destiny of Man.
Ever since Barack Obama called him “one of my favorite philosophers” Niebuhr’s work has enjoyed renewed attention, most recently cited by some commentators as underpinning the theological subtext of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech last week in Oslo.
We also have an excerpt an excerpt from The Irony of American History.

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