Magazine August 1, 2011, Issue

The Niebuhrian Mean

(Andres Stapff/Reuters)
Why Niebuhr Now?, by John Patrick Diggins (Chicago, 152 pp., $22)

Reinhold Niebuhr, the distinguished theologian and theorist of “Christian realism,” used to be a major intellectual presence in the United States. He was that rarity, a theologian and public intellectual who wrote with intelligence, competence, and sobriety about world affairs. From the late 1930s through the 1960s, Niebuhr helped shape the judgment of those who were responsible for leading the U.S. during the “American century.” His Christian realism had next to nothing in common with amoral Realpolitik or with the fashionable denial that ideology played a decisive role in shaping the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. It was indebted

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Daniel J. MahoneyMr. Mahoney holds the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., and is a National Review Institute trustee. He is the author, most recently, of The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity

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