Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Reprimands candidate Henry Wallace

Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Reprimands candidate Henry Wallace

Correspondence with Will Scarlett


July 27

Dear Will:

It was a joy to have a letter from you. I wish we could come to visit you. But I'm afraid it is impossible. I have 12 days before going to Amsterdam and I am trying desperately to finish the manuscript of my Beecher lectures. As I have to limit myself to 3 hours intellectual work per day I have not progressed as much as I hoped. But I may get finished. The trip would take the best part of a week so I'm afraid it can't be done. Also Christopher is with us this summer and as I don't see him much during the winter I give him the afternoons now.

Felix is here but I have only seen him once. Ursula and I will have dinner with him on Saturday. Thus far he has stayed off the subject we disagree with him about though we had a heated correspondence during the winter after I wrote an editorial criticizing him. You put it well. They are insisting on separation of state and religion. Also Felix's thought identifies community too much with state. The community must have many independent non-political forms of integration if it is to be rich and healthy. Felix does no know it but he wants in the name of unity to make everything political.

I think President Compton's suggestion is very important and I do hope that we can confer on it. Incidentally I wish I did not have to go to Amsterdam. Then I could finish my book and also come to see you. I don't think I can contribute anything significant at Amsterdam. It will deal primarily with organizational mechanics. But I am going out of a sense of duty. I thought for a while a pain in my heel would give me an excuse to stay away. But the darn pain disappeared. My health is good. Blood pressure normal. Heart murmur almost disappeared.

Those three conventions were awful, each in their own way but the Wallace one was the worst. Poor Henry is really a prisoner of the commies. ---I think we will get through the Berlin crisis now but I don't see the answer for the long run.

Much love to you and Leah from us both.

Reinhold Niebuhr Papers: Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room

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Paul Elie

is senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.

Jean Bethke Elshtain

is an author and Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Robin Lovin

is Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and the author of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism.