Why Niebuhr matters

Charles C. Lemert, 1937-

Book - 2011

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New Haven : Yale University Press c2011.
Main Author
Charles C. Lemert, 1937- (-)
Physical Description
xvi, 252 p. ; 21 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. 213-235) and index.
  • Why Niebuhr?
  • Reinhold Niebuhr: tamed cynic
  • Evangelical preacher: wheat and tares
  • Powers, pulpits, and politics: moral man and immoral society
  • Sin, self, and society: nature and destiny of man
  • Nations, global politics, and religion: irony and American history
  • Political recovery and globalization: knowing the difference.
Review by Choice Review

Lemert (emer., Wesleyan), a leading social theorist, analyzes the lively revival of interest in Niebuhr (1892-1971) and how Niebuhr's realistic assessment of human limitations clarifies moral situations. Professor of Christian social ethics at the Union Theological Seminary, Niebuhr was one of the most influential Protestant preachers, thinkers, and moral guides in the mid-20th-century US. A gifted and creative expositor, Lemert provides careful analyses of Niebuhr's most important works, the development of his thinking in response to his own life history and concurrent world events, and his study of thinkers like Augustine and Max Weber. Lemert draws a striking comparison between Niebuhr and Augustine as critics of human civilization. Among Lemert's many books are The Structural Lie: Small Clues to Global Things (2011), and, with Anthony Elliott, The New Individualism (2009). Scholars and laypersons alike will find this volume valuable. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers. P. L. Urban Jr. emeritus, Swarthmore College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

As part of this Yale University Press series, well-known social theorist Lemert (social theory, emeritus, Wesleyan Univ.; Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life) examines the relevance of one of America's most famous theologians. According to Lemert, Niebuhr's (1892-1971) liberal and social theological theories are needed in modern-day America not only to counter conservative religious thought influencing today's politics and to help us deal with our declining global dominance, but also to assist us in not overlooking the rights of the individual in the name of progress and political necessity. The chapters follow Niebuhr's growth as a minister and theologian, and examine how his writings dealt with the social and political problems that he saw arising out of the struggle between individual rights and the unethical decisions of governments and industries. VERDICT While Niebuhr diagnosed these problems during the early and mid-20th century, his relevance to current issues in America are easy to follow from Lemert's clear presentation. Any reader with an interest in social theory or Niebuhr himself will find this a rewarding read.-Scott Duimstra, Capital Area Dist. Lib., Lansing, MI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.