This book is intended to present Niebuhr's ideas about "Christian Realism" in a way thatwill be useful to people who are thinking about today's social issues.
The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of Its Traditional Defenseby Reinhold Niebuhr Gary Dorrien
The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, first published in 1944, is considered one of the most profound and relevant works by the influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and certainly the fullest statement of his political philosophy. Written and first read during the prolonged, tragic world war between totalitarian and democratic forces, Niebuhr's book took up the timely question of how democracy as a political system could best be defended.<P><P> Most proponents of democracy, Niebuhr claimed, were "children of light," who had optimistic but naïve ideas about how society could be rid of evil and governed by enlightened reason. They needed, he believed, to absorb some of the wisdom and strength of the "children of darkness," whose ruthless cynicism and corrupt, anti-democratic politics should otherwise be repudiated. He argued for a prudent, liberal understanding of human society that took the measure of every group's self-interest and was chastened by a realistic understanding of the limits of power. It is in the foreword to this book that he wrote, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."<P> This edition includes a new introduction by the theologian and Niebuhr scholar Gary Dorrien in which he elucidates the work's significance and places it firmly into the arc of Niebuhr's career.
This addition to Westminster John Knox Press's Library of Theological Ethics series brings one of Reinhold Niebuhr's classic works back into print. This 1935 book answered some of the theological questions raised by Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) and articulated for the first time Niebuhr's theological position on many issues. The introduction by ethicist Edmund N. Santurri sets the work into historical and theological context and also assesses the viability of some of Niebuhr's positions for theology and ethics today.
"[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away . . . the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard. "--President Barack Obama Forged during the tumultuous but triumphant postwar years when America came of age as a world power,The Irony of American Historyis more relevant now than ever before. Cited by politicians as diverse as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Niebuhr's masterpiece on the incongruity between personal ideals and political reality is both an indictment of American moral complacency and a warning against the arrogance of virtue. Impassioned, eloquent, and deeply perceptive, Niebuhr's wisdom will cause readers to rethink their assumptions about right and wrong, war and peace. "The supreme American theologian of the twentieth century. "--Arthur Schlesinger Jr. ,New York Times "Niebuhr is important for the left today precisely because he warned about America's tendency--including the left's tendency--to do bad things in the name of idealism. His thought offers a much better understanding of where the Bush administration went wrong in Iraq. "--Kevin Mattson,The Good Society "Ironyprovides the master key to understanding the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft. . . . The most important book ever written on US foreign policy. "--Andrew J. Bacevich, from the Introduction
From 1915 to 1928, at the beginning of a career that would see him become America's foremost theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr served as pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, Michigan. This deeply personal book presents his advice and insights for young ministers about the challenges and rewards of pastoral ministry. It is presented in this exclusive Library of America E-Book Classic edition with a preface by Niebuhr's daughter, editor Elisabeth Sifton, plus a chronology of Niebuhr's life and detailed notes.
His thesis is "individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence and not in its rational capacity for conceptual and analytic procedures"
A definitive collection of the theologian and public intellectual who was the conscience of the American Century. "One of my favorite philosophers," remarked Barack Obama about the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) in 2007. President Obama is but one of the many American political leaders--including Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King Jr.--to be influenced by Niebuhr's writings. Throughout the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, Niebuhr was one of the most prominent public voices of his time, probing with singular style the question of how to act morally in a fallen world. This Library of America volume, prepared by Niebuhr's daughter, Elisabeth Sifton, collects four indispensable books: Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic (1929), Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944), and The Irony of American History (1952), along with a selection of essays, sermons, lectures, prayers, including his world-famous Serenity Prayer, and writings on current events--Prohibition, the Allied bombing of Germany, apartheid in South Africa, the Vietnam War--many of which are collected here for the first time.
Writings on this subject by scholars.
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