David Brooks and E.J. Dionne —
Obama's Theologian: Reinhold Niebuhr and the American Present

President Obama has cited Reinhold Niebuhr's teachings as significant in shaping his ideas about politics and governance. In a public conversation, we discuss the great public theologian's legacy and ideas — and what influence they may play in the future of American politics.

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is a conservative columnist for The New York Times and author of several books.

is a liberal columnist at The Washington Post and author of many books.

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Brooks and Dionne, Live with Krista

With one video camera remaining, we filmed Krista's public conversation with David Brooks and E.J. Dionne, including the invocation by Jean Bethke Elshtain.

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David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, and Krista visit with attendees after the live event at Georgetown University.

Photo by Marc Zielinski

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After witnessing Obama's speeches and actions over the past 6 months, I believe that his stated respect for Niebuhr is merely self-serving political hyperbole. I also believe that Niebuhr would have seen through Obama's facade.

Hi,Krista - Listened to the 8 16 09 rebroadcast of the EJ Dionne/D Brooks conversation @ Georgetown on Niehbuhr. Interesting non response when the question of 'do we have a Niebuhr like voice today?' Your polite but on point observation of a different world/biracial president/multicultural mosaic yielding a different voice other than a white male Anglo Protestant minister from the midwest (I'm adjunct faculty @ Elmhurst College where Reinhold Niehbur was president)was roundly ignored by Brooks and Dionne....tsk tsk. Unfortunately, I'm not surprised but still disappointed that they didn't respond or even make an attempt at expanding on it. While not a religious person, the likes of Gloria Steinhem has had a signficant body of work that resonates of justice and social responsibility...but oh, she's 'just a feminist' or something less. Mother Teresa - sorry but the white men are missing a big opportunity to read simplicty and profound tru th about our place in the world in her words. The Dalai Lama's writings and quotes, can uplift even the most jaded social observer. It all depends on the audience. None of these e.g.'s are white male...and I sadly think that the authority of a person of color or a female, either in moral, political, spiritual or ethical matters, is lost on too many.

Keep raising that flag - and keep pushing (maybe a little more forcefully and pointedly) this recognition. Your 'bully pulpit' on NPR is a good place to start.

Best Regards,
Felicia M. Elias, CEBS, ISCEBS Fellow

Krista tippett, on niebur (not nieblur), today, i heard you mutter an uhuh after brooks defended isrAel's assault on gaza, in which the israeli soldiers, those who hadn't opted out due to having no stomach for the operation, coldly, wantonly and in some cases, duplicitously, ruthlessly murdered ordinary gazans -- in hospitals, in front of their own houses rushing out with white flags, small children point blank, groups who bombed and burned after having been told by the israelis that a community center would be a safe place....

Now maybe that is what you do, make a noise of assent as a kind of tic, out of habit or politeness, not wanting to ruffle feathers. But you made absolutely no dissent and i find this deplorable. You, i think, consider youself a moral person; why, then refrain for speaking against an appalling, immoral statement? Many influential individuals could, at the time, over those weeks spoken out to save gazans, by words and by threats to withhold aid. But they did not. And you did not when you had a chance. Wasn't it m l king who said it is the people who withhold protest when they hear about injustice are guilty of bolstering that injustice?

So who are you? Anyway?

While I always enjoy this program, and did so again re 'Obama's Theologian', I was astounded by David Brook's vitriolic words about Palestinians/ Hamas. His words were a total lie, and I would very much like to know WHY his lies were left in the program that aired, especially give that you cut other material? Up to hearing his words, I admired him. Please have a program on that shows the truth that early on the Palestinians were non-violent in the face of Israeli aggression, and that non-violence remains a virtue for many Palestinians. Please help. Jan Leary