September 13, 2013 Robin Lovin to Discuss the Shrinking Moral Vocabulary in Politics, Oct. 10

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Religion scholar Robin Lovin, in the annual Maguire lecture at the Library of Congress, will argue that contemporary politics is plagued by a shrinking moral vocabulary and will examine ways to reverse the trend.

Lovin will speak at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10 in room 119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the John W. Kluge Center, the lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

From February to June, Lovin held the 2013 Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the Kluge Center. He returns for the annual Maguire lecture, a major address at the Library by the chair holder. Lovin is the eighth scholar since 2001 to hold the Maguire Chair.

“Religious aspirations, prophetic indictments and even the concept of the common good have been pushed to the margins of public reason,” Lovin said. “At the same time, the institutions that shape lives and connect persons to the wider society—schools, museums, congregations, community organizations—tend to disappear from political consideration.”

In his lecture, Lovin will discuss how the shrinking moral vocabulary came about and how renewed attention to the role of certain institutions might help to expand one’s thinking about ethics in politics. Lovin will argue for the return in politics to a unified moral vocabulary.

Lovin is the director of research at the Center of Theological Inquiry and an emeritus professor at Southern Methodist University. He 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” surveyed the life and work of the famed protestant theologian. The Library of Congress holds the Reinhold Niebuhr papers.

Lovin began his career at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and spent 13 years as a faculty member at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. He is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.A.) and Harvard University (B.D. and Ph.D.). Lovin is an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church.

The Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History was established to explore the history of America with special attention to the ethical dimensions of domestic economic, political and social policies. Cary Maguire is chair and president of Maguire Oil Co. and Maguire Energy Co. and chair of Components Corporation of America and Staco Inc. Maguire is a member of the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.

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

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 13-158
ISSN 0731-3527