June 18, 2007


Caption: Seamus McGoogle is still working on his theological masterpiece.

Say all the bad stuff you want to about the 20th century, but it did produce some good theologians. They were thoughtful people of faith who spoke to a large public audience of believers and non believers and had a significant positive impact.

Three in particular were big ones for El Cabrero. In no particular order, they included Reinhold Niebuhr, the Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber, and German emigre Paul Tillich. Each came from a specific tradition (Calvinist, Hasidic, and Lutheran, respectively) but had something to say to people from widely different traditions.

I'm not sure we have anybody of their caliber today, but maybe I'm missing something.

Niebuhr (1892-1971) put sin back on the map. Here's a good profile of him by the late Arthur Schlesinger from 2005. I've had the privilege of learning from some people who were taught by him and consider myself a second-generation student. Niebuhr is an excellent antidote for personal and national self-righteousness and we need him now.

Martin Buber (1878-1965) is best known for his work I and Thou, which deals with human relationships with other people, nature and the spiritual world. I had to hit it three times (once with a commentary) before anything sank in but it was well worth the effort. His other biblical and philosophical writings are worthwhile as well.

And then there was Tillich (1886-1965), a German theologian from the Lutheran tradition who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Nazi Germany. But he'll keep till tomorrow...

CARING FOR VETERANS. Many veterans have been and will be returning from Iraq with serious mental health issues. According to this item from the Washington Post, the outlook isn't good that they'll get the timely help they need.

LONG STRANGE TRIP. Here is an op-ed by yours truly recapping the 10 year fight to raise the minimum wage. And here is a good editorial from the Saturday Gazette about inequality.



Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

It’s 1:30 a.m. and I was just about ready to retire when I saw the title of this and the next post and couldn’t resist the visit. I’m glad a dropped by, since you have named three 20th Century theologians who have greatly impacted my own theology. Of course, Reinhold had the greatest impact, since he is a product of seminary I attended (Eden in St. Louis).

So Seamus McGoogle is creating a theological masterpiece! That’s understandable, since I have come to believe that cats make excellent theologians.

The Washington Post piece (unfortunately) tells it like it is. We have come a long way since George Patton slapped a soldier suffering from battle fatigue. Unfortunately, we have not come far enough to attempt to eliminate war.

El Cabrero said...

Those are kind of the Big Three, aren't they?

Is or was Eden based on the Reformed tradition?

Re: Seamus, I don't think he's entirely orthodox. There's a strong antinomian streak.