This American mess

Where is Reinhold Niebuhr when we need him?
As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the U.S. finds itself in a mess of historic proportions. Our economic crisis was preceded by a near-universal collapse in judgment about the use of U.S. military force abroad. This mess is profoundly embarrassing because it is of our own making and therefore one that could have been avoided.

Confronting and analyzing such embarrassments was theologian Rein hold Niebuhr’s specialty. More specifically, he excelled in exploring the doctrine of original sin and its social and political ramifications. Niebuhr observed that the concept of original sin is universally rejected by “all schools of modern culture” and is “offensive to the modern mind.” That rejection, Niebuhr thought, was itself a symptom of original sin.


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