federation “is the final and most absurdrnform of the ‘social contract’ conceptionrnof government.” One could say thatrnNiebuhr was not under any illusionsrnabout the prospects of multiculturalismrnor of a New World Order. He believedrnthat common heritage is the basis ofrncommunity and that on the local, national,rnand international level, justice,rnorder, and peace are always tentative andrnfragmentary.rn”Religious dualism is an error,”rnNiebuhr maintained. And he arguedrnthat Christianity is not an other-worldlyrnreligion, for it recognizes the claims ofrnthe body as well as the soul. Thus Platonism,rnsome varieties of mysticism, andrnsome Oriental religions err in ignoringrnthe human body and the world’s body;rnon the other hand, naturalism, positivism,rnscientism, and other empiricalrn”isms” err in neglecting the spirit. ConcerningrnChristian views of the creationrnand of history, Niebuhr said: “The comparativernwell-being of the people ofrnWestern civilization in contrast to thernpoverty of the Orient is due to the lifeaffirmingrnand history-affirming characterrnof the Christian faith.” Niebuhr addedrnthat William Temple “rightly definedrnChristianity as the most ‘materialistic’ ofrnreligions. It emphasizes that the soulrnand the body are a unity and that redemptionrnis something else than thernemancipation of the soul from thernbody.” Sound as this Western theologyrnis, Niebuhr also knew that it had producedrna materialism which threatenedrnthe soul. He regarded with suspicionrnthe American preoccupation with technology,rnproductivity, and wealth as endsrnin themselves.rnPerhaps the chief theme that informsrnNiebuhr’s writings is human sinfulnessrnmanifesting itself in individual and societalrnselfishness and pride. Brown showsrnhow Niebuhr’s early and somewhat sanguinernview of human nature and man’srnprospects of achieving societal justicernchanged as he read Augustine and ponderedrndaily events in the calamitous 20thrncentury. While a young pastor at BethelrnEvangelical Church in Detroit, Niebuhrrndiscovered, as he was to put it later in hisrnlife, “that human nature was quite differentrnthan I had learned at Yale DivinityrnSchool.” What he witnessed in thernurban industrial world of the Motor Cityrndisabused him of the “simple idealism”rnof liberal theology. Some remarks ofrnEmil Brunner, a neo-orthodox theologianrnwho presented a lecture in 1928 atrnUnion Theological Seminary, wherernNiebuhr taught, illustrate the prevailingrnnaivete of many “establishment” theologiansrnin the 20’s and 30’s. Brunner’srnlecture stirred up a heated discussion,rnabout which he wrote, “What I said inrnmy lecture about sin led to an animatedrnand passionate discussion. The conceptrnof sin in those days had almost disappearedrnfrom the vocabulary of enlightenedrntheologians.” Brunner also notedrnthat the term sin “seemed to stimulaternNiebuhr and set fire to his imagination.”rnIt is scandalous that any Christian theologianrnwould not accept and affirm therntraditional concept of sin. And it is tornNiebuhr’s credit that he gave sin a centralrnplace in his theology, presenting arnbiblical definition of sin as both a moralrnand spiritual problem.rnI am much more comfortable withrnNiebuhr’s theology than with some featuresrnof his politics. His support of thernNew Deal in the 30’s might be justified,rnbut the wisdom of his continued support,rnbeyond the 30’s, of New Deal approachesrnto social, economic, and culturalrnaffairs is more than questionable.rnThe Leviathan State and its Great Societyrnwelfare programs—these are not thernsolution. Indeed, increasingly we seernthat reliance upon government and politicsrnonly adds to the blight that is destroyingrnour culture, our schools, andrnour cities. Yet there is political wisdomrnin Niebuhr’s writings. Politicians andrneducators would do well to listen to whatrnhe has to say about Burke and Madison,rnutopianism, the Western community,rnand the American faith in materialismrnand technology. We would all do well tornrecognize, as he did, “the importance ofrnthe doctrine of ‘original sin’ as a basicrncategory for the interpretation of history,”rnand, one might add, as a basic categoryrnfor understanding man’s nature.rnAugustine, not Pelagius or contemporaryrnliberal theologians, should be ourrnguide, as he was Niebuhr’s, on the realityrnand nature of sin. (I only wish thatrnAugustine had been Niebuhr’s guide onrnthe issue of Jesus’ Resurrection: on thisrnpoint Niebuhr seems to have followedrnthe liberal theologians.)rnLike the character Pitch in Melville’srnanti-Emersonian novel The Confidence-rnMan, Niebuhr says: “St. Augustine onrnOriginal Sin is my text-book All boysrnare rascals and so are all men.” Pitchrnstoutly claimed, “My name is Pitch: Irnstick to what I say.” But unfortunatelyrnPitch did not stick to what he said, andrnhe was consequently beguiled by thernconfidence man. Fortunately, Niebuhr’srnreversal was not so radical as Pitch’s. Inrnhis Cifford Lectures (later published asrnThe Nature and Destiny of Man),rnNiebuhr used Augustine as his text.rnYears later he offered an adjustment ofrnhis Augustinian views, rejecting the terminologyrn”original sin” but insisting onrnthe historic and symbolic reality of thernterm. So he did not completely stick tornwhat he said in his Gifford Lectures, andrnhe was somewhat beguiled by thernpromises of the Leviathan Snake. Yet hisrnlast views are sufficiently Augustinian inrntheir emphasis on the pride, vanity, injustice,rnand selfishness of both man andrnhis societies, and on the great gulf thatrnseparates the City of Man from the Cityrnof God.rnBrown’s intellectual biography is a fair,rnaccurate, well-researched presentationrnof Niebuhr’s ideas in the context of hisrnage. This excellent biography and anthologyrnare just the books that Christianrnlaity ought to be reading, so long asrnthey also read Augustine and the otherrnclassic theologians as well. Since hope isrnone of the great Christian virtues, I alsornhope a few politicians and educators willrnread these books. <£-rnLIBERAL ARTSrnGYPSIES BEWARErnA group in Romania supposedlyrnmodeled after the Ku Klux Klanrnplans a lynch war on gypsies, reportsrnthe independent daily RomaniarnLibera. The Organization to Fightrnthe Gypsies is based in Ploiesti, northrnof Bucharest. Its president, namedrnsimply Marcel, was quoted as saying:rn”All gypsies guilty of infractions whornare not punished by law will bernpunished by us.”rnOCTOBER 1993/35rnrnrn