well. We read a writer as much for whatnhe sees and how he describes what hensees as for the story he has to tell, andnSettle not only has a lucid style but anwonderful eye. She understands withnperfect clarity the kind of strong-willednmother that makes for a weak-willednson. She understands, too, that thisnfree-ranging bachelor is bound like anslave to home, and that his lover, caughtnup in something she knows to be hope­nONWARD CHRISTIANnSOLDIERS!nAccording to so-called scientific pollsndesigned and executed by the GallupnOrganization and the Princeton ReligiousnResearch Center, the great majoritynof the American people continue tonbelieve in the Millennium, even if anlesser majority—or perhaps actually anminority — don’t know what it is.nThe People’s Religion: AmericannFaith in the 90’s (New York and London;nMacmillan; 278 pp., $19.95) bynGeorge Gallup, Jr. and Jim Gastelli, isnfull of interesting bits of information,nnot all of them depressing. We learn,nfor example, that as of 1982, 42 percentnof Americans knew who delivered thenSermon on the Mount, while 46 percentncould name all four gospels and anwhopping 70 percent could say wherenGhrist was born. On the other hand, asnof 1954, those figures were 34, 35, andn75 percent, respectively, so that, in justnless than thirty years, we’ve made progress:ntwo steps forward and one stepnback.nThe Gallup Organization has beennaround for half a century now, in whichntime, the authors assure us, the religiousncharacter of the nation has been —ndespite “volatility” and a steady declinenin church attendance since the 1950’sn—what they call “stable.” “Basic religiousnbeliefs, and even religious practice,ntoday differ relatively little from thenlevels recorded fifty years ago,” when an40/CHRONICLESnless, living in the wrong part of town,ndropped by his crowd, the country clubncrowd, is the free one.nBut freedom, like money, is not angood in itself; it’s what you do with itnthat counts, and having spent so muchnof her life on bric-a-brac CharleynBland’s lover finds that when this affairnis over she is only free to leave. Freedomnwas never what she wanted anyway; it isnonly all she has left. As she packs hernREVISIONS-nGallup survey found the Bible to be anclose first in the home libraries ofnAmericans, almost in a dead heat withnGone With the Wind. Somewhat tontheir surprise, apparently, Messrs. Gallupnand Gastelli can write that thenAmerican faith remains not just orthodoxnbut even “fundamentalisf (theirnword), inasmuch as nine of ten Americansnclaim never to have doubted thenexistence of God; while eight in tennexpect to have to account for their sinsnon Judgment Day, another eight in tennprofess to believe that God still worksnmiracles, and seven in ten believe in anlife after death.nThis information, of a kind likely tonproduce a chilling effect on NormannLear, Arthur Kropp, and company overnat People for the American Way, isnpositive so far as it goes. On the debitnside, sentences like, “Americans arenevenly divided on the statement, ‘Indon’t have to belong to an organizednreligion because I lead a good life,'”nand “only a large minority of Americansnagree that there are clear standardsnfor judging good and evil that nevernchange,” are followed by a sectionncalled “What Americans Want FromnTheir Ghurches” that is — well, dispiriting.n”Americans want a wide variety ofnservices, both spiritual and practical,nfrom their churches and synagogues,”nthe authors claim. “And whethernAmericans feel they are getting thesenservices is, all in all, a more importantnfactor in determining whether or notnnntrailer for New York her friend PlainnGeorge tells her ” ‘You’ll be back beforenyou know it,'” giving her “the onlynwords of comfort he knew,” the onlynwords of comfort for an exile. Like sonmuch of the (little enough) kindnessnthat has been shown her, it is both anblessing and a lie.nKatherine Dalton is managing editornof Chronicles.nthey will attend church than are largernphilosophic questions.”nWhat Americans want, it seems, arena sense of community, an opportunitynfor direct involvement in the socialnissues of the day, and “practical help” innsuch matters as child rearing andn”learning how to be parents,” and theynhave made up their collective mind thatnthe church of their choice is the naturalnprovider of these things. (As one teamnof scholars, including Martin Marty,nhas noted, there is “[e]vidence of antendency [for Americans] to viewnreligion as useful for some personal ornsocial end rather than as an expressionnof devotion to God alone; an increase innthe concern for adjustment to this life,nin contrast to preparing for life afterndeath.”) What Americans emphaticallyndon’t want from their churches, itnseems, are hierarchy, discipline, or direction,nwhether of the institutional ornthe theological variety. As for interpretingnthe Word of God and applying thatninterpretation to personal and socialnbehavior, they wish to be left alone tondo their own thing (without benefit ofnclergy, past or present).nPreceding the Day of Judgment,nGod may perhaps feel Himself compellednto administer courses in Christianntheology to the souls of Americannfaithful that will make freshman catchupnclasses at contemporary Yale andnHarvard look like an old-fashioned SundaynSchool picnic. (CW)n