With the terrorist attack that barely failed on a U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day and the opening of a new U.S. “front” against terrorist cells in Yemen, the year 2009 (and the decade of the “00s”) came to a somber conclusion. The struggle against radical Islamic terrorists remains a long, twilight struggle.
Nine days after announcing that he would send more troops to Afghanistan and set July 2011 as the start of a gradual withdrawal, President Barak Obama gave a similarly nuanced speech in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Obama condemned religious-inspired violence, so-called holy wars, but also offered a defense of the just-war tradition in the face of “evil” in the world.
Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian whose work Andrew Finstuen invokes in this issue, had an interesting relationship with the Christian Century. He started writing for the magazine in 1922 while he was a pastor in Detroit.
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.
In Elisabeth Sifton’s The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War, the author describes how Reinhold Niebuhr, her father, moved away from the pacifism that prevailed among mainline religious leaders in the years after World War I.