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Reinhold Niebuhr was an American theologian, ethicist, public intellectual, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than 30 years. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. described Niebuhr as "the most influential American theologian of the 20th century".
"The stupidity of the average man will permit the oligarch, whether economic or political, to hide his real purposes from the scrutiny of his fellows and to withdraw his activities from effective control. Since it is impossible to count on enough moral goodwill among those who possess irresponsible power to sacrifice it for the good of the whole, it must be destroyed by coercive methods and these will always run the peril of introducing new forms of injustice in place of those abolished." ~ Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932)
Krista Tippett talks to Paul Elie, Jean Bethke Elshtain and Robin Lovin.
Elie is senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and author of "The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage".
Elshtain is an author and Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Lovin is Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and the author of "Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism".
Next week Lawrence Wright reports on the Church of Scientology.
Source: Moral Man and Immoral Society: Rediscovering Reinhold Niebuhr
Music includes The Compassionate Conservatives - War And Peace, Gil Scott-Heron - Winter In America, Willie Nelson in Austin Texas, Roy Zimmerman - O Amazon, Tracy Chapman - Heaven's Here on Earth, Tom Lehrer - So Long, Mom (A Song For World War III), John Kennedy - Berlin, Shamarr Allen & Dee-1 & Paul Sanchez & Bennie of Hot 8 - Sorry Ain't Enough No More, Pete Seeger - The Draft Dodger Rag, The Beach Boys - Student Demonstration Time, Dr. King - Nonviolence is the Most Powerful Weapon, Steve Earle - Rich Man's War, Everton Blender - Bush and Saddam, Dave Lippman - Jena, Unreasonable Women, Frank Sinatra - That's Life, Young Ladies - Star Spangled Banner, John Coltrane - Moment's Notice