April 21, 2017

The Making of "An American Conscience"

Martin Doblmeier and Andrew Finstuen

Marcia Franklin talks with Martin Doblmeier and Boise State Professor Andrew Finstuen, the director and co-producer of “An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story” a PBS documentary about the man who’s been called one of the most important public intellectuals of the 20th century.

The two discuss why they wanted to make the documentary, Niebuhr’s contributions to American political and theological discourse, and his relevance to current times.

Reinhold Niebuhr, who was born in 1892 and died in 1971, was a protestant minister and a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City for more than 30 years. Known as a ‘public theologian,’ he was called upon for his opinions on the major ethical and moral issues of his time. Niebuhr’s speeches and his prolific writing, which includes the books “Moral Man and Immoral Society,” “The Nature and Destiny of Man,” and “The Irony of American History,” influenced leaders on all sides of the political spectrum.

Martin Doblmeier has produced more than 30 documentaries, many of which have aired on PBS. His company, Journey Films, specializes in issues of religion, faith and spirituality. Andrew Finstuen, Ph.D., is a professor at Boise State University and dean of the Honors College there. His first book, “Original Sin and Everyday Protestants: The Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr, Billy Graham, and Paul Tillich in an Age of Anxiety,” won the 2010 American Society of Church History’s Brewer Prize.