The New York Times is carrying a wonderful essay about the oft-overlooked Reinhold Niebuhr, the 20th century theologian and political liberal. Niebuhr is the source of the soundbyte you might have heard called The Serenity Prayer.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
The essay in question is a somewhat glib view at a prolific writer, but it’s a taste: I’d encourage you to get out and read some Niebuhr.
- The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of Its Traditional Defense
- Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic
- The Irony of American History
In the midst of this religious commotion, the name of the most influential American theologian of the 20th century rarely appears – Reinhold Niebuhr. It may be that most “people of faith” belong to the religious right, and Niebuhr was on secular issues a determined liberal. But left evangelicals as well as their conservative brethren hardly ever invoke his name. Jim Wallis’s best-selling “God’s Politics,” for example, is a liberal tract, but the author mentions Niebuhr only twice, and only in passing.