Saturday, February 21, 2009

Reinhold Niebuhr Lives!

If you have a spare eighty minutes you need to check out "Obama's Theologian," a recent installment of "Speaking of Faith."

E. J. Dionne and David Brooks join Krista Tippet to discuss the legacy of Reinhold Niebuhr. Jean Bethke Elshtain begins the session by reading one of Niebuhr's prayers.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the discussion.

Brooks: "The University of Chicago is a Baptist school where Jewish professors teach atheistic students St. Thomas Aquinas." (This quote has been attributed to Martin Gardner).

Dionne: "Niebuhr was a progressive who believed in original sin."

Brooks: "The core of conservatism is epistemological modesty and original sin...the Republican Party has drifted far away from this."

Dionne: "A lot of Democrats found God in the 2004 exit can find God anywhere."

Also listen carefully for Brooks's riff on the relationship between human nature and politics.

Dionne: "Because Obama is a post-60s liberal, he is really a 1930s and 1940s liberal."