fcred a helpful insight. Virtually every human societ}’ has somernidea of transcendence, despite the obvious fact that there arernast differences among them. However, Del Noce argues inrnThe Epoch of Secularization, transcendence no longer appearsrnin the once-Christian West. It is not that it has been abolished;rnit is, rather, as though the culture as a whole has lost what R.L.rnBruckberger called “a certain metaphysical organ” and is nornlonger capable of perceiving or thinking about the transcendent.rnWe no longer see a conflict between Christian theismrnand atheism; atheism no longer exists, and Christianitv hasrnbeen reduced to a kind of club achitv’, like bridge, and does notrnengage in philosophical combat. (Fhis is why the defense ofrnnaturalistic evolution has become such a frenzied concern ofrnmuch of the intellectual world. If the merest suggestion of intelligentrndesign is reasserted, then one has to ask the God questionrnagain, and that is preciseK’ what we increasingly lack thernmental equipment to do.)rnDel Noce’s analsis casts light on the situahon that prevailsrnin the West. Real atheism no longer exists, because in orderrnto be atheistic —in order to deny that there is a Cod—onernmust first “think Cod.” Otherwise, what is there is to deny?rnAtheism has been superseded by agnostic secularism, in whichrnCod does not e’en appear on the radar screen. Atheism usuallyrnrequires an awareness of a religion that affirms a belief inrnCod, or at least of the possibilit)’ of transcendence; otherwise,rnthere is no idea of the Cod that one wishes to deny. F^ow hasrntliis happened? Del Noce sees the cause in secularization. Inrncontrast to the 19th century, when materialism was a philosophyrnwhich challenged theism and revealed religion on intellectualrngrounds, the 20th century, at least since World War II, hasrnattacked Christianih’, and with it the idea of transcendence. Itrnhas done so by flooding Europe and North America with wonderfulrnthings to buy, to have, and to do, causing the transcendentrnto recede from view. People do not bother to denv transcendence;rnthev simp])’ cannot really imagine it.rnEternit}- vanishes in the torrent of worldlv goods, and with itrnmoral judgments here and divine judgment hereafter. All transcendentrnvalues disappear; only commerce remains. AlthoughrnDel Noce does not use this example, this is why internetrnpornography cannot be suppressed. If there is any commercialrnvalue in an)’thing, no moral reservations can impede our accessrnto it. (An illustration of the victory of commerce over traditionrncan be seen in the gradual suppression of the Confederate BattlernFlag in states where it was once honored. The crisis camernwith an NAACP boycott of South Carolina, and the fear of losingrnincome quickly persuaded South Carolinians to abandonrntire old flag.) This marginalization is why something as illogicalrnas midticulturalism seems to be having a relatively easv marchrnto triumph over all vestiges of particular cultural commitment,rnincluding religion.rnIf we return to tiic image of tiie boy on the table, it seems absolutelyrnself-contradictory to assert the equality of all culturesrnwhen one is based on human sacrifice and others are based onrnthe sanctity of human life. To accept multiculturalism as arnvalid principle is easier than to deny the validih’ of your own religion,rnbut it quickly comes to mean the same thing. To call allrncultures equal, and to designate religion as an aspect of culture,rnis to call all religions equal, which means, of course, that nonernis more alid than an’ other. Most postmodern thinkers, politicalK’rncorrect though they nia’ be, do not believe that Aztecrnpractices are no more objectionable than a Sunday-school picnic.rnOr do they? Some might find a Billy Craham crusadernmore objectionable than the sacrifices on the great pyramid ofrnTenochtitian, because, after all, the sacrifices are long past andrndo not threaten us, while Dr. Craham’s crusades frequently winrnpeople away from multiculturalism to the exclusivist religionrncalled Christianity.rnThe impact of multiculturalism on the churches is visiblerne’erywhere, and not only in the more extreme variants of Christianit)’.rnWe have heard of the re-imagining conferences, fundedrnby leading mainline denominations, including thernPresbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United MethodistrnChurch—both of which ought to know better. Jesus Christ isrn”re-imagined” as a female persona, Sophia, and fiis Supper isrnturned into a meal with milk and honey. The Pope himself allowedrnBuddhists to erect in St. Francis’s church at Assisi whatrnearlier Christians would have called an idol. ConservativernProtestants seem increasingly cidture-driven. Willow CreekrnCommunity Church’s “seeker friendly” Sunday services hardlyrnresemble traditional Protestant worship. Evangelical Protestants,rnin their zeal to reach the young, have created “Christian”rnversions of rock concerts. The authors of some theological curricularnseem to be more interested in incorporating elements ofrnpopular culture than in impregnating students with Scripturernand Christian tradition. A recent Harvard Divinit}- School catalogrnlisted only one semester on the literature of the New Testament,rnbut two semesters on feminist interpretation of thernsame. (To be f;iir to Harvard, there were some courses on individualrnNew Testament books.)rnThe 19th century was the century of missionary expansion,rnand the 20th century began with even greater missionary enthusiasm.rnBut today, Chrfstian missions are in considerable disrepairrnin the mainline churches, including Roman Catholicism.rnThe Roman Catholic Paulist order, founded in the 19thrncentury with tiie goal of converting Protestants, now specializesrnin such things as publishing books on liberation theology.rnMissiology, for many, is becoming anthropology, dedicatingrnitself to the study of other religions rather than to changingrnthem. Few will now sing the old missionary hymn, “FromrnGreenland’s Icy Mountains,” with such multiculturally incorrectrnlines as: “The heathen in his blindness bows down to woodrnand stone.” One may infer from this change that we now assumernthat earlier Christian missionaries, who really thoughtrnthis way, were blind to the authenticit)’ (another buzzword inrnmodern multicultural religiosity) of what we used to call “paganism,”rnbut must now call “indigenous religion.”rnIn the analysis of Augusto Del Noce, secularization drivesrnout both true religion and atheism because it no longer thinksrnin terms of transcendence. Multiculturalism is the most devastatingrnaspect of the secularization of culture. For Christians, itrndoes not denounce their faith as vain by denying truth of thernResurrection (1 Corinthians 15:17). That would be a focusedrnattack, and it could be coimtered with arguments from histor)’rnas well as testimonies of faith. Instead, it tells them, in effect, “Itrnis wrong to ask whether Christ is risen. That is only one amongrnmany religious and cultural convictions. To affirm that it isrnuniquely true is to be intolerant, and that is the one sin thatrnmulticulturalism cannot endure.”rnIf multiculturalism continues to gain ground, there will bernno need for religious war—real or figurative—because no onernwill believe that his religion is true. For adherents of some religions,rnthat may not seem terrible, but Christians will have arnhard time explaining it at the judgment seat. crnSEPTEMBER 2001/21rnrnrn