Scholar alters view, says Niebuhr probably wrote 'Serenity Prayer'

Shapiro cites new evidence
After receiving new evidence, the editor of a prominent compilation of famous quotations now believes that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr most likely is the author of the popular “Serenity Prayer.”

“I think it’s not certain,” Fred R. Shapiro, editor of The Yale Book of Quotations, said in an interview Novem ber 30. “If I had to put a number on it, I’d say it’s 80 percent. But it’s not 100 percent.”

In a Yale Alumni Magazine article published in the summer of 2008, Shapiro, the associate librarian at Yale’s law library, questioned whether Niebuhr was actually the author of the prayer, which has been popularized by Alco holics Anonymous. At the time, Shapiro said it was “possible” Niebuhr wrote it but also feasible he “was unconsciously inspired by an idea from elsewhere.”


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