“piety at its best is public as well asnprivate. It embraces the lived world asnwell as the secret realm of the heart.”nMore important, “it can inspire a broadnrange of service to God and humankindnas well as encourage a deepernpersonal religion.”nFor the Puritans here included, thennotion of “private faith” was a contradiction.nPiety meant acting responsiblyntoward God and one’s neighbor. Whilenthe Puritans often failed in that regard,nsuch failure hardly makes themnunique. And they certainly knew thatnthey would answer to a higher powernfor their actions, a sense of responsibilitynscarcely evident in, say, Jim Wright.nThe selections by G.W. OfBey,nFrederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincolnnshow that the fight against slaverynhad a religious motivation. Likewise,nMartin Luther King’s “I Have anDream” reveals the extent to whichnKing’s Christian faith motored the civilnrights cause. One could add the hospitals,nschools, and orphanages foundednby supposedly pie-in-the-sky religiousntypes. Marxists are not known to buildnorphanages. And whoever wants thenservices of a Freudian must pay a steepnprice.nThe authors comment that Melvillen”understood the predicament of humansnwho, try as they will, cannotnescape God or the elemental forces ofnthe world.” This seems the very thingnthat modern secular ideologists havenattempted to do. They view the past asna chronicle of superstition and oppression,nlasting until the advent of suchnenlightened persons as themselves.nTheir mindset is for the most part whatnTalcott Parsons called “America’snFourth Faith”—the various denominationsnof materialist humanism. Thisneffectively makes America’s New Classna deracinated bunch, at odds with thentraditions of their own society, withnconsequences in both politics and thenarts.nAs Woodrow Wilson’s entry notes,n”the Bible has stood at the back ofnprogress” and was part of the nation’sn”hidden roots.” In addition “everynprocess of purification and rectificationncomes from the bottom, not the top.”nWithout a transcendent referencenpoint or code of morality, how is liberalndemocracy, which depends on virtue,nto be reinvigorated? Popular culturennow has a didactic or even priestlynfunction, but it can hardly do the job.nIn research for his book, The ViewnFrom Sunset Boulevard, Ben Stein didnnot come across a single instance innwhich a television character was motivatednby religious belief. Even thentransplanted Amish of Aaron’s Waynare, like the Huxtables, essentially nonreligious.nIt also seems clear that a secular agenwill scorn private, religiously motivatednphilanthropy and call for an everencroachingnstate to perform its worksnof social righteousness. The state thusntakes on a vicarious function, supplyingnan ersatz goodness. State compulsionnreplaces individual compassion.nAs C.S. Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge,nand others have noted, any artnworthy of the designation “great” mustnpoint to the transcendent. It seemsnclear that a loss of the transcendentnvision is largely responsible for thendearth of great art. Unless of coursenone thinks that Sophie’s Choice, BrightnLights, Big City, or one of StevennSpielberg’s cartoons will fit the bill.nReinhold Niebuhr’s entry includes anforeshadowing of the New Age movement,nwhat a recent New Republicnpiece aptly called “Moronic Convergence,”nand which seems to be annincreasingly popular alternative to bothna barren secularism and the traditionalnreligious outlook that moderns findnunacceptable. Wrote Niebuhr: “Everynkind of cult seems to flourish. Everynsorry Oriental religious nostrum is borrowednin the vain effort to give meaningnto pointless lives and to impart anthrill to vacuous existences.” Whatevernone thinks of those pious souls in thisnanthology, it cannot be denied thatntheir lives did indeed have meaningnand purpose. They were not “alienated.”nNovelist Frederick Buechner, alsonincluded in Voices, is undoubtedly correctnthat for many the language of faithnis dead. But one can certainly takenissue with his designation of the “post-nChristian world.” In his ModernnTimes, Paul Johnson noted that “thenoutstanding non-event of modernntimes was the failure of religious beliefnto disappear.”nIt is easy to see why those waiting fornthis great event are intolerant. AsnChesterton noted, men are most motivatednby their religion, especially whennit is irreligion, and Mort Sahl observesnthat the trouble with being an atheist isnthat you get no days off. In the SovietnBloc, religion shows no sign of witheringnaway, in spite of vicious persecutionnspanning seven decades. In thenWest, neither a stifling consumerismnnor a highly secularized educationalnsystem have been up to the task. Homonreligiosus shows great resilience.nPeople who are openly religious,nand who believe that their faith hasncertain nonnegotiables, are the mostngentle and law-abiding sector of theniVe Love Ifte Qrcat *Dcad ‘Poetsn— we just don’t publish them. America teems with live poetsnwho inject venerable poetic conventions with singularlynAmerican vitality. The dead poets, many of whom arenstill on their feet, deserve a rest. Try us.nPLAINS POETRY JOURNALnP.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, ND 58502nedited by JANE GREERnQuarterly. $14/year, $24/2 years. Send SASE for hearteningneditorial manifesto. Order with this ad or facsimile andnGET 5 ISSUES FOR THE PRICE OF 4.nNamenAddressn(Please enclose payment with order) Chron988nnnSEPTEMBER 1988/29n