Reinhold Niebuhr's writings have long informed and influenced (sometimes perplexed and exasperated) the American intelligencia--theologians, philosophers, political theorists, historians, and other professionals. Now, in 140 pages of clear, unpretentious, closely argued prose, professor emeritus Richard Crouter (Carleton College) has given the general reader critical insights into Niebuhr's thought and its relation to contemporary American life--and to 21st century global issues.
Niebuhr's thinking poured out in a steady stream of sermons, articles, and books. He's a difficult thinker to summarize and difficult (as the author notes) to "get a handle on." But Crouter has indeed given us some handles--and they are good ones. His discussions strive to free Niebuhr from the grasp of political writers, to lift him out of the acrid debate between the political right and left, and to give us a more coherent view of this seminal thinker.
Reinhold Niebuhr on Politics, Religion, and Christian Faith is a book for those who are seeking a way forward in the face of bitter and seemingly (at times) overpowering realities. It is a book for those who wonder if the American sense of inevitable progress, the notion of a better day ahead, has become an illusion--a false promise that impedes our need to confront the hard realities surrounding war, peace, economic well-being, and personal security. And it is a book for those who wish to further understand what Henry James called "the complex fate of being an American."