pear to be about as far apart as NewtrnGingrich and Hillary Clinton.rnJames Davison Hunter, for instance,rnargues that evangelicals are a large part ofrnthe orthodox constituency which defendsrnthe traditional family, opposes politicalrncorrectness and multiculturalismrnin the academy, and supports efforts torncut federal funding for objectionable art.rnThis explains why they have lined up inrnbookstores across the land to buy andrnread to their children William Bennett’srnBook of Virtues. Thus, evangelicalism, atrnleast in the common configuration ofrnthe ongoing culture wars, is the antithesisrnof the cultural left.rnWhy is it, then, that when evangelicalsrnretreat from the public square intorntheir houses of worship they manifest thernsame hostility to tradition, intellectualrnstandards, and good taste they find sorndeplorable in their opponents in the culturernwars? Anyone familiar with the socalledrn”Praise & Worship” phenomenonrn(so named, supposedly, to remind participantsrnof what they are doing) wouldrnbe hard pressed to identify these believersrnas the party of memory or the defendersrnof cultural conservatism. P&Wrnhas become the dominant mode of expressionrnwithin evangelical churches,rnfrom conservative Presbyterian denominationsrnto low church independentrncongregations. What characterizes thisrn”style” of worship is the praise songrn(“four words, three notes and twornhours”) with its mantra-like repetition ofrnphrases from Scripture, displayed on anrnoverhead projector or video monitorsrn(for those churches with bigger budgets)rn, and accompanied by the standardrnpieces in a rock band.rnGone are the hymnals which keep thernfaithful in touch with previous generationsrnof saints. They have been abandoned,rnin many cases, because they arernfilled with music and texts consideredrntoo boring, too doctrinal, and too restrained.rnWhat boomers and bustersrnneed instead, according to the liturgy ofrnP&W, arc a steady diet of religious ballads,rnmost of which date from the 1970’s,rnthe decade of disco, leisure suits, andrnlong hair. Gone too are the traditional elementsrnof Protestant worship, the invocation,rnconfession of sins, the creed, thernLord’s Prayer, the doxology, and thernGloria Patri. Again, these elements arernnot sufficiently celebrative or “dynamic,”rnthe favorite word used to describernthe new worship. And while P&W hasrnretained the talking head in the sermon.rnprobably the most boring element ofrnProtestant worship, the substance ofrnmuch preaching turns out to be morerntherapeutic than theological.rnOf course, evangelicals are not thernonly ones guilty of abandoning the treasuresrnof historic Protestant worship. Variousrnchurches in the Evangelical LutheranrnGhurch in America and MissourirnSynod have begun to experiment withrncontemporary worship. The traditionalistsrnin Reformed circles, if the periodicalrnReformed Worship is any indication, havernalso begun to incorporate P&W in theirrnservices. And Roman Catholics, one ofrnthe genuine conservative constituenciesrnthroughout American history, have contributedrnto the mix with the now infamousrnguitar and polka mass. Yet, judgingrnon the basis of worship practices,rnevangelicals look the most hypocritical.rnFor six days a week they trumpet traditionalrnvalues and the heritage of thernWest, but on Sunday they turn out to bernthe most novel. Indeed, the patterns ofrnworship that prevail in most evangelicalrncongregations suggest that these Protestantsrnare no more interested in traditionrnthan their archenemies in the academy.rnA variety of factors, many of whichrnstem from developments in post-1960’srnAmerican popular culture, unite evangelicalismrnand the cultural left. In bothrnmovements, we see a form of anti-elitismrnthat questions any distinction betweenrngood and bad (or even not so good), orrnbetween what is appropriate and inappropriate.rnProfessors of literature havernlong been saying that the traditional literaryrncanon was the product, or better,rnthe social construction, of a particularrnperiod in intellectual life that preservedrnthe hegemony of white men, but whichrnhad no intrinsic merit. In other words,rnbecause aesthetic standards turn out tornbe means of sustaining power, there is nornlegitimate criteria for including somernworks and excluding others.rnThe same sort of logic can be foundrnacross the country at weeknight worshiprnplanning committee meetings. It is virtuallyrnimpossible to make the case—rnwithout having your hearers go glassyeyedrn—that “Of the Father’s LovernBegotten” is a better text and tune thanrn”Shine, Jesus, Shine,” and, therefore,rnthat the former is fitting for corporaternworship while the latter should remainrnconfined to Christian radio. In the casernof evangelicals, the inability to make distinctionsrnbetween good and bad poetryrnand music does not stem so much fromrnpolitical ideology (though it ends uprnabetting the cause) as from the deeplyrningrained instinct that worship is simplyrna matter of evangelism. Thus, in order tornreach the unchurched, the churchedrnhave to use the former’s idiom and style.rnWhat is wrong with this picture?rnThe traditionalists are of no help here.rnRather than trying to hold the line onrnwhat is appropriate and good in worship,rnmost of those who are devoted full-timernto thinking about liturgy and worship,rnthe door-keepers of the sanctuary as itrnwere, have generally adopted a “unitedcolors-rnof-Benetton” approach to thernchallenge of contemporary worship. Forrninstance, a recent editorial in a Reformedrnpublication says that the oldrnways—the patterns which used Buxtehudernrather than Bill Gaither, “Immortal,rnInvisible” rather than “Do Lord,” arnGenevan gown instead of a Polo shirt—rnhave turned out to be too restrictive.rnChurches need to expand their worshiprn”repertoire.” The older predilection wasrn”white, European, adult, classical, with arnstrong resonance from the traditionalrnconcert hall.” But this was merely a preferencernand reflection of a specific “education,rnsocio-economic status, ethnicrnbackground, and personality.” Lleavenrnforbid that anyone should appear to bernso elitist. For the traditional “worship idiom”rncan become “too refined, cultured,rnand bloodless . . . too arrogant.” Instead,rnwe need to encourage the rainbow coalitionrn—”of old and young, men and women,rnred and yellow, black and white,rnclassical and contemporary.” And thernreason for this need of diversity? It isrnsimply because worship is the reflectionrnof socioeconomic status and culture.rnGone is any conviction that one liturgy isrnbetter than another because it conformsrnto revealed truth and the order of creation,rnor that one order of worship isrnmore appropriate than another for therntheology which a congregation or denominationrnconfesses. Worship, likernfood or clothes, is merely a matter ofrntaste. Thus the logic of multiculturalismrnhas infected even those concerned tornpreserve traditional liturgy.rnYet when one looks for genuine diversityrnm worship, multiculturalism—again,rnthe great leveler of tradition and culturalrnstandards—offers up a very thin band ofrnliturgical expression. Advocates of diversityrndo not seem to be very interested inrnthe way “the people” have worshiped inrnthe past. Is there, for instance, any realrneffort among the various experimentsrn40/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn