Thursday 21 June 2012

Thought for the Day

'About midway in my ministry, which extends roughly from the peace of Versailles to the peace of Munich, measured in terms of Western history, I underwent a fairly complete conversion of thought which involved rejection of almost all the liberal theological ideals and ideas with which I ventured forth in 1915. I wrote a book [Does Civilization need Religion?], my first, in 1927 which contains almost all the theological windmills against which today I tilt my sword. These windmills must have tumbled shortly thereafter, for every succeeding volume expresses a more and more explicit revolt against what is usually known as liberal culture.'

Thus the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr - who, as it happens, was also born on this day (in 1892) - cheerfully confessing to the evolution in his ideas that set him completely at odds with his younger self. It's always refreshing, isn't it, when thinkers - or anyone else - are ready to jettison earlier ideas and follow where their thought leads them, even if it is to the opposite shore from that on which they once firmly stood.


  1. Yes - I'm often cheered by that openness and ability to change, even though it can be much criticised and seen as fickle. Opinions and ideas can be as transient as the weather and life and age and experience sweep us along to other points of view anyway - which always seems a good thing, even when it's not necessarily a change for the better. As long as we don't stay anywhere so long that we freeze...

  2. I have swum to the opposite shore in the last couple of years and what fun it has been, jettisoning all the ideas that shackled me to dreariness. I have lots more things to explore now that I look at them in a new light. Hooray!

  3. My opinions on politics, metaphysics, culture, you name it, are now the complete opposite to those I held at thirty. Fortunately I now know that I am right: what does a thirty year old know about anything?

  4. American politics today would be massively different if people were willing to input data and change their minds accordingly.

    Unfortunately, it's not that easy.