February 21, 2013
SMU Professor Robin W. Lovin has been appointed to the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center by Librarian James H. Billington.
Lovin, who began his tenure on February 1, will spend four months at the Library of Congress researching 20th-century American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and his theories of Christian realism and the possibility for moral deliberation in politics.
"Niebuhr’s Christian realism was probably the most significant public use of religious ideas in the 20th century," says Lovin. "He challenged a generation of religious and political idealists to think realistically about the requirements of power, and to understand political behavior as the pursuit of power in the service of self-interest, balanced with a moral ideal. My effort is to explore what Niebuhrian realism means for us today, and what it has to tell us about politics and the human good."
The Library of Congress holds the Reinhold Niebuhr papers. Lovin says the Maguire Chair offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore this unique resource: "I’m learning a good deal about the possibilities and limits of moral deliberation in politics by re-reading Niebuhr’s major works. I expect to learn more by exploring his correspondence and papers at the Library of Congress."
Lovin, who is retiring from SMU at the end of this semester, is the Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics, a position that has allowed him to write and teach about moral theology across different disciplines since 2001. Previously he served eight years as dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology,
Lovin has written widely on 20th-century Christian social ethics. His most recent publication is "An Introduction to Christian Ethics," a volume designed for students and general readers. His 2007 book "Reinhold Niebuhr" is a brief survey of the life and work of the Protestant theologian.
Lovin began his career at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and spent 13 years as a faculty member at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.A.) and Harvard University (B.D. and Ph.D.), and he is an ordained minister of The United Methodist Church. Lovin is also a senior research fellow at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, N.J.
The Cary and Ann Maguire Chair is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Using research facilities and services at the Library of Congress, the scholar is expected to explore the history of America with special attention to the ethical dimensions of domestic economic, political, and social policies, and present a lecture on the research at the end of the tenure.
Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.
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