• book

From the Publisher

Barack Obama has called him “one of my favorite philosophers.” John McCain wrote that he is “a paragon of clarity about the costs of a good war.” Andrew Sullivan has said, “We need Niebuhr now more than ever.” For a theologian who died in 1971, Reinhold Niebuhr is maintaining a remarkably high profile in the twenty-first century.


In Why Niebuhr Now? acclaimed historian John Patrick Diggins tackles the complicated question of why, at a time of great uncertainty about America’s proper role in the world, leading politicians and thinkers are turning to Niebuhr for answers. Diggins begins by clearly and carefully working through Niebuhr’s theology, which focuses less on God’s presence than his absence—and the ways that absence abets the all-too-human sin of pride. He then shows how that theology informed Niebuhr’s worldview, leading him to be at the same time a strong opponent of fascism and communism and a leading advocate for humility and caution in foreign policy.


Turning to the present, Diggins highlights what he argues is a misuse of Niebuhr’s legacy on both the right and the left: while neoconservatives distort Niebuhr’s arguments to support their call for an endless war on terror in the name of stopping evil, many liberal interventionists conveniently ignore Niebuhr’s fundamental doubts about power. Ultimately, Niebuhr’s greatest lesson is that, while it is our duty to struggle for good, we must at the same time be wary of hubris, remembering the limits of our understanding.


The final work from a distinguished writer who spent his entire career reflecting on America’s history and promise, Why Niebuhr Now? is a compact and perceptive book that will be the starting point for all future discussions of Niebuhr.

 
Published: University of Chicago Press an imprint of UChicagoPress on
ISBN: 9780226148861
List price: $14.00
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Why Niebuhr Now?
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Related Articles

The Atlantic
6 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Gorsuch's Selective View of 'Religious Freedom'

As the Judiciary Committee hearings for Judge Neal Gorsuch begin, I retain my impression that he is in his way a splendid fellow, intelligent and hard working, and, as near as I can tell, devoid of the streak of jack-in-office meanness that mars the legacy of his predecessor, Antonin Scalia. But I also wonder whether he has a blind spot in an area that should concern Americans—religious freedom. Consider his separate opinion in the Tenth Circuit’s opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Remember the issue in Hobby Lobby. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide a cert
TIME
3 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Krista Tippett

ELIZABETH DIAS What has surprised you about the response to your newest book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living? Even in early 2016, people were so weary—sore inside. In the 24/7 news environment, people are bombarded with the same story of what is catastrophic and corrupt and failing 25 times before lunch. They start to internalize that not as news but as the norm. An effect I see on people in conversations that came up around the book is, there are actually so many beautiful, generative things happening in the world. How did America get to this place of such divi
Nautilus
4 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Which Comes First, Big Cities or Big Gods?

Warriors among the Kwara’ae, a collection of tribal communities indigenous to the Solomon Islands, sacrificed pigs before battle. The tradition granted the combatants, so the belief went, aid from heroic ancestral spirits—like the mighty A’orama, a fierce fighter in Kwara’ae folklore. For every man who prepared to shed blood, a hog met its end.1 Any non-superstitious observer might regard this ritual as a costly habit. Why give offerings when one can eat them instead? This puzzle is not unique to the Kwara’ae. Why pray? Or erect and attend churches, mosques, temples? Or observe holidays and fa