August 24, 2012
Communications and Marketing
Peter Josephson (politics) and Ward Holder (theology) have combined their disciplines to analyze the president's political theology in a newly published book, The Irony of Barack Obama: Barack Obama, Reinhold Niebuhr, and the Problem of Christian Statecraft.
The idea for the book originated when Barack Obama mentioned in a New York Times interview that Reinhold Niebuhr was his favorite philosopher. Holder called his colleague in the politics department, and the two began to analyze the relationship between Christian faith and statesmanship.
Their combined thinking is the subject of the new book, in which they look at Niebuhr's influence on the president's politics, an influence they argue is substantially contrary to a common belief among the American electorate that Obama is not Christian.
Neibuhr is one of the country's preeminent Christian political thinkers, but is now largely forgotten, says Josephson. "We felt it was a story no one was really telling and it could conceivably be important to the history of American politics."
The book assesses the challenges facing President Obama and evaluates his success in adhering to Niebuhr's path of "Christian realism" when faced with the demands of domestic and foreign affairs.