One of these reasons that New York Times columnist David Brooks likes Barack Obama so much (despite the fact that he disagrees with him more than he agrees with him) is because both he and Obama are fans of the mid-twentieth century public theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
Edmund Santurri, a professor of religion and philosophy at St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota, is also Niebuhr fan. Over at the blog of the Library of America, Santurri talks about his St. Olaf course on Niebuhr, “Obama’s Theologian.”
Here is a taste:
For me the principal attraction of Niebuhr’s work is its anthropological vision. That vision is traditionally Pauline or Augustinian in casting the world as fallen, but it’s also one that Niebuhr imaginatively rearticulated in trenchant observations of signature twentieth-century political events. According to Niebuhr, human beings generally are confronted with two persistent temptations: (1) the temptation to overreach, to ignore human limits, to indulge in Messianic delusions—what Niebuhr calls the sin of pride, and (2) the temptation to underachieve, to surrender prematurely, to evade responsibility for action in the world—what Niebuhr calls the sin of sensuality.
Read the rest of this post here.