where it is. This involves looking at therntransihonal stages by which a traditionalrnhierarchical society became one inrnwhich nothing is thought to warrant respectrnunless the individual finds it in hisrninterest to value it. The victory of thisrnself-centered ethos, Molnar notes, hasrnnot put an end to either religious longingrnor mythic obsession. In other words, therndesacralization ascribed by sociologistsrnto a post-Christian age has not createdrnthe total spiritual void that many religionistsrncomplain of More significantrnhas been the quest for a new spiritualityrnthat has given rise to a variety of culturalrnphenomena, from New Age cocktail talkrnto inexhaustible therapeuhc Utopias.rnThough Molnar is widely known as arnCatholic Aristotelian with some sympathyrnfor Plato, his philosophical interests,rnas revealed in his conversations with JeanrnRenaud, are remarkably broad. He professesrnhigh regard for both existentialistrnand pre-Socratic thought and considersrnFailures of Promisernby Timothy MurphyrnA flock of crowsrnfound a road-killed ewernfrozen in the snow.rnA drowsy bearrndragged a leg-shot deerrnto its deadfall lair.rnThe lamb in the ewernand the fawn in the doernwere devoured unborn,rnand November snowsrnburied the standing corn.rnGreek atomism a “marvelous discovery.”rnHe is impatient with Christians, Catholicrnand Protestant, who fuss about thernincompatibility between the biblical andrnclassical worlds. He insists that Christiansrn”will always be indebted to Athens,”rnthat philosophy is “an authentic activityrnof the spirit,” and tliat philosophical discoursernis basic to the Christian formulationrnof belief This argument, it mightrnbe noted, is true not only for those whornprofess to be Christian humanists butrnequally for those on the other side. Suchrndistinguished critics of humanisticrnChristianity as Luther, Zwingli, andrnBarth offer densely reasoned argumentsrnfor their antihumanism, while showingrnstaggering evidence of a classical education.rnIf neither is evident in the antihumanistrnposture of contemporary fundamentalists,rnboth are likewise absent firomrnthe tracts of Chrishan liberals. The capacityrnto produce reasoned discoursernand the acquisition of classical learning,rnboth long associated with theology andrnphilosophy, are becoming divorced fromrnAmerican education; and this, far morernthan a theological stand on Greekrnthought, Molnar claims, has marginalizedrnthe cumulative cultural traditions ofrnthe West.rnMolnar has often highlighted the rolernof one social democratic philistine whornhas heavily influenced American educators,rnJohn Dewey. Discovering a lack ofrnpolitical relevance in the teaching ofrnclassical languages, Dewey hoped to deviserna largely technical education, onernthat he thought would be suitable for arnreformed democratic America. Such anrnattitude tells more about the geneticrncauses of our educational problems thanrnthe effects attributed by movement conservativesrnto the hippie decade of thern1960’s.rnMy own reservation about Molnar’srncase against late modernity is his tendencyrnto push back explanations too far. Is itrnhelpfiil, for example, to revisit the Reformahonrnin order to comprehend modernrnliberalism or the pervasiveness of Americanrnmaterialism? One may concede thernpoint that Protestantism, particularly inrnits Calvinist formulation, predisposes believersrnto be relatively individualistic,rncompared to Catholics, in searching forrnsalvation. One may, frirthermore, acceptrnMax Weber’s view that a correlation existsrnbetween Calvinist moral theologyrnand the capitalist spirit. But even if onernconcedes the above, one has still notrnfound more than a single factor in therncreation of the vast historical trend leadingrnto the present. And the limiting casesrnthat historians must consider are endless.rnIndeed some of the most deeplyrnconservative groups up until recentlyrnhave been Calvinist, from AmericanrnSouthern Presbyterians and Dutch andrnAfrikaner farmers to Hungarian gentryrnand Swiss burghers. By contrast, somernCatholic populations have been ravingrnfanatics of modernization and, in therncase of the Dutch Church, have cheeredrnon the “imbecility” that Molnar lamentsrnin criticizing contemporary moral fashions.rnThough Molnar ascribes theserndevelopments to Catholic imitationsrnof Protestant behavior, the more likelyrnexplanation is that both sides have beenrnsimultaneously overwhelmed by thernsame mass democratic trends.rnDespite my difficulty with Molnar’srnintricate genealogy of morals, he correctlyrnobserves that we are looking only atrnthe tip of an iceberg. Things did not startrngoing bad in our society because kids inrnthe 1960’s took to smoking marijuana orrnbecause George McGovern won thernDemocratic nomination in 1972. Therncollapse of the family and of genderrnidentity which I have witnessed in myrnadult years is as dramatic an event as anyrn20th-century totalitarianism. But thisrncataclysm is taken for granted even byrnmainstream American conservatism,rnwhich only quibbles at the edges overrndisastrous government policies. At myrncollege and at professional gatherings, Irnhear white male professors expressingrnguilt over making, unbeknownst to others,rnracial and gender distinctions inrntheir minds. Gay rights, among otherrnhallucinatory “human” rights, are a givenrnamong most educated Americans today;rnand while we protest the infanticidernbeing practiced in the impoverishedrnChinese countryside, we proclaim partial-rnbirth abortion a “women’s issue” inrnfeminist America. Add to this a boundlessrnhunger for new commodities andrngadgets, and one get a sense of the “disfiguredrnmodel” of the American constitutionalrnrepublic for which Molnar is alwaysrnreaching as an illustration of laternmodern decadence. He is right to askrnhow this model became so disfigured,rnand while one may disagree with the detailsrnof his causal explanation, he is alsornright to look deeply for answers.rnPaul Gottfried is a professor of humanitiesrnat Elizahethtown College inrnPennsylvania.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn