May 10, 2010

One that stuck

El Cabrero has a theologian in common with President Obama, his 2008 opponent John McCain and quite a few people across the political spectrum. That would be Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), a professor at Union Theological Seminary who was very influential in the US in secular as well as religious circles.

I guess I can claim to be a second generation student of Niebuhr. When I was in junior high, a new priest came to the Episcopal Church I was brought up in. At the time, I didn't have much use for religion in general, a periodically recurring condition with me.

I'd been involved in a civil war over this with the Maternal Unit until we agreed to a ceasefire on the following terms: I'd complete confirmation classes and go through the ceremony and after that I was on my own.

The priest taught the confirmation classes, during which I came to realize that the whole thing might not have been as stupid as I thought. The priest in question, Fr. William Kirkland, had studied at Edinburgh and later with Niebuhr himself at Union, although I didn't realize that at the time.

It was much much later, when I had begun working for the American Friends Service Committee that I really began to study his thought. I made it a habit to study social movements of the past to look at what worked and what didn't and became aware of Niebuhr's profound influence on Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

It stuck with me. Lately, I've revisited his writings, which will probably show up here for the next little stretch.

OIL SLICK. Paul Krugman opines on the Gulf oil disaster and the role of government in his latest column.

MEDIA AND MORE. Here's the latest edition of the Rev. Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree. Jim appears to be going through some static with the Episcopal bishop of WV.

EAT LOCAL. This item looks at the economics of organic gardening and local food production.

GETTING INVOLVED can make you happier.


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