The Serenity Prayer

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
he courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.

“…the EVILS against which we contend are frequently the FRUITS of ILLUSIONS which are similar to our OWN.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

“Religionis so frequently a source of confusionin political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values.”

“Democracy is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.”

“Man’s capacity for JUSTICE makes democracy POSSIBLE, but man’inclination to INJUSTICE makes democracy NECESSARY.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses

“Power,” said Henry Adams, “is poison”; and it is a poison which blinds the eyes of moral insight and lames the will of moral purpose.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics

“The SAD DUTY of POLITICS is to establish JUSTICE in a SINFUL WORLD.”

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

“Thetendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan valueand ends is the source of all religious fanaticism. ”

“Ultimately evil is done not so much by evil people, but by good people who do not know themselves and who do not probe deeply.”

“The mastery of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for SELF mastery.”

“Humour is, in fact, a prelude to faith; and laughter is the beginning of prayer … Laughter is swallowed up in prayer and humour is fulfilled by faith.”

“Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”

“Rationality belongs to the cool observer, but because of the stupidity of the average man, he follows not reason, but faith, and the naive faith requires necessary illusion and emotionally potent oversimplifications which are provided by the myth-maker to keep ordinary person on course.”

“comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”

“Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.

“The FINAL WISDOM of LIFE requires not the annulment of incongruity but the achievement of serenity within and above it.”

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”

“Religion, declares the modern man, is consciousness of our highest social values. Nothing could be further from the truth. True religion is a profound UNEASINESS about our highest social values.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of History

“Goodness, armed with power, is corrupted; and pure love without power is destroyed.”

“Self-righteousness is the inevitable fruit of simple moral judgments.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“Humour is, in fact, a prelude to faith; and laughter is the beginning of prayer. Laughter must be heard in the outer courts of religion, and the echoes of it should resound in the sanctuary; but there is no laughter in the holy of holies. There laughter is swallowed up in prayer and humour is fulfilled by faith.

The intimate relation between humour and faith is derived from the fact that both deal with the incongruities of our existence. … Laughter is our reaction to immediate incongruities and those which do not affect us essentially. Faith is the only possible response to the ultimate incongruities of existence, which threaten the very meaning of our life.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Discerning the Signs of the Times – Sermons for Today and Tomorrow

“Democracies are indeed slow to make war, but once embarked upon a martial venture are equally slow to make peace and reluctant to make a tolerable, rather than a vindictive, peace. ”

“Humor is a prelude to faith, and laughter is the beginning of prayer.”

“To the end of history, social orders will probably destroy themselves in an effort to prove they are indestructible.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of History

“It is my strong conviction that a realist conception of human nature should be made a servant of an ethic of progressive justice and should not be made into a bastion of conservatism, particularly a conservatism which defends unjust privileges.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses

“When economic power desires to be left alone it uses the philosophy of laissez faire to discourage political restraint upon economic freedom. When it wants to make use of the police power of the state to subdue rebellions and discontent in the ranks of its helots, it justifies the use of political coercion and the resulting suppression of liberties by insisting that peace is more precious than freedom and that its only desire is social peace.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics

“I wonder if anyone who needs a snappy song service can really appreciate the meaning of the cross.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic

“We have, on the whole, more liberty and less equality than Russia has. Russia has less liberty and more equality. Whether democracy should be defined primarily in terms of liberty or equality is a source of unending debate.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“The mastery of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self mastery.”

“For man as an historical creature has desires of indeterminate dimensions.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“1924 A revival meeting seems never to get under my skin. Perhaps I am too fish-blooded to enjoy them. But I object not so much to the emotionalism as to the lack of intellectual honesty of the average revival preacher. I do not mean to imply that the evangelists are necessarily consciously dishonest. They just don’t know enough about life and history to present the problem of the Christian life in its full meaning. They are always assuming that nothing but an emotional commitment to Christ is needed to save the soul from its sin and chaos. They seem never to realize how many of the miseries of mankind are due not to malice but to misdirected zeal and unbalanced virtue. They never help the people who corrupt family love by making the family a selfish unit in society or those who brutalize industry by excessive devotion to the prudential virtues.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr,

“If a minister wants to be a man among men he need only to stop creating devotion to abstract ideals which every one accepts in theory and denies in practice, and to agonize about their validity and practicability in the social issues which he and others face in our present civilization.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics:
“THE CROWN OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS IS THE DOCTRINE OF forgiveness. In it the whole genius of prophetic religion is expressed. Love as forgiveness is the most difficult and impossible of moral achievements. Yet it is a possibility if the impossibility of love is recognized and the sin in the self is acknowledged. Therefore an ethic culminating in an impossible possibility produces its choicest fruit in terms of the doctrine of forgiveness, the demand that the evil in the other shall be borne without vindictiveness because the evil in the self is known.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics

“There is no deeper pathos in the spiritual life of man than the cruelty of righteous people. If any one idea dominates the teachings of Jesus, it is his opposition to the self-righteousness of the righteous.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics

“However much human ingenuity may increase the treasures which nature provides for the satisfaction of human needs, they can never be sufficient to satisfy all human wants; for man, unlike other creatures, is gifted and cursed with an imagination which extends his appetites beyond the requirements of subsistence. Human”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics:

“The same strength which has extended our power beyond a continent has also interwoven our destiny with the destiny of many peoples and brought us into a vast web of history in which other wills, running in oblique or contrasting directions to our own, inevitably hinder or contradict what we most fervently desire. We cannot simply have our way, not even when we believe our way to have the “happiness of mankind” as its promise.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History
“…until the fear of catastrophe amends, or catastrophe itself destroys…”
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“This conference on religious education seems to your humble servant the last word in absurdity. We are told by a delightful ‘expert’ that we ought not really teach our children about God lest we rob them of the opportunity of making their own discovery of God, and lest we corrupt their young minds by our own superstitions. If we continue along these lines the day will come when some expert will advise us not to teach our children the English language, since we rob them thereby of the possibility of choosing the German, French or Japanese languages as possible alternatives. Don’t these good people realize that they are reducing the principle of freedom to an absurdity?”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic

“Even as rigorous a determinist as Karl Marx, who at times described the social behaviour of the bourgeoisie in terms which suggested a problem in social physics, could subject it at other times to a withering scorn which only the presupposition of moral responsibility could justify.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics
“Every profession has its traditions and its traditionalists. But the traditionalists in the pulpit are much more certain than the others that the Lord is on their side.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics:

“You are supposed to stand before a congregation, brimming over with a great message. Here I am trying to find a new little message each Sunday. If I really had great convictions I suppose they would struggle for birth each week. As the matter stands, I struggle to find an idea worth presenting and I almost dread the approach of a new sabbath. I don’t know whether I can ever accustom myself to the task of bringing light and inspiration in regular weekly installments. How in the world can you reconcile the inevitability of Sunday and its task with the moods and caprices of the soul? The prophet speaks only when he is inspired. The parish preacher must speak whether he is inspired or not. I wonder whether it is possible to live on a high enough plane to do that without sinning against the Holy Spirit.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr,

“The church has lost the chance of becoming the unifying element in our American society. It is not anticipating any facts. It is merely catching up very slowly to the new social facts created by economic and other forces. The American melting pot is doing its work. The churches merely represent various European cultures, lost in the amalgam of American life and maintaining a separate existence only in religion.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr,

“The church conference begins and ends by attempting to arouse an emotion of the ideal, usually in terms of personal loyalty to the person of Jesus, but very little is done to attach the emotion to specific tasks and projects. Is the industrial life of our day unethical? Are nations imperialistic? Is the family disintegrating?”
― Reinhold Niebuhr,

“There are NO SIMPLE CONGRUITIES in life or history. The cult of happiness erroneously assumes them.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr

“The morality of the church is anachronistic. Will it ever develop a moral insight and courage sufficient to cope with the real problems of modern society? If it does it will require generations of effort and not a few martyrdoms. We ministers maintain our pride and self-respect and our sense of importance only through a vast and inclusive ignorance. If we knew the world in which we live a little better we would perish in shame or be overcome by a sense of futility.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic: A Library of America E-Book Classic

“Power,” said Henry Adams, “is poison”; and it is a poison which blinds the eyes of moral insight and lames the will of moral purpose.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics

“If superior abilities and services to society deserve special rewards it may be regarded as axiomatic that the rewards are always higher than the services warrant. No impartial society determines the rewards. The men of power who control society grant these perquisites to themselves.”

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, no matter how virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.”

“…element of comedy is never completely eliminated from irony. But irony is something more than comedy. A comic situation is proved to be an ironic one if a hidden relation is discovered in the incongruity. If virtue becomes vice through some hidden defect in the virtue; if strength becomes weakness because of the vanity to which strength may prompt the mighty man or nation; if security is transmuted into insecurity because too much reliance is placed upon it; if wisdom becomes folly because it does not know its own limits – in all such cases the situation is ironic.

The ironic situation is distinguished from a pathetic one by the fact that the person involved in it bears some responsibility from it. It is differentiated from tragedy by the fact that the responsibility is related to an unconscious weakness rather than a conscious resolution. While a pathetic or a tragic situation is not dissolved when a person becomes conscious of his involvement in it, an ironic situation must dissolve, if men or nations are made aware of their complicity in it…. or it leads to a desperate accentuation of the vanities to the point where irony turns into pure evil.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History