symbolized by the physical construction of the chapel at myrnown university, Penn State, in which the architects militantlyrnrefused to include any specifically religious symbol, preferringrninstead a series of abstract designs equally incomprehensible tornall, creating a state of ecumenical bafflement. We seemed tornbe practicing an “absolute separation of campus and state.”rnSomewhere down the road,rnwe need to think hardrnabout when and where ideas ofrnadvocaey, involvement, andrncommitment belong in thernuniversity, whether inside orrnoutside religion classes.rnIt was all reasonable enough in its time, but the situationrnthen changed radically with the steep decline of general culturalrnliteracy, which included familiarity with religious traditions.rnThere was also a growing division between the religious liberalismrnof an older generation and a surging fundamentalismrnwhich is quite evident among many students—Christians mostrnobviously, but also among Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. We livernin an age that has been described, in the title of Gilles Kepel’srnrecent book, as “the revenge of God,” when ideas that wouldrnonce have seemed intolerably fundamentalist have come to reshapernpolities, whether in North America or Israel, in the landsrnof Islam and Hinduism. And those ideas which have grownrnmost explosively have been precisely those which had been declaredrnsafely dead in the 1960’s, such as Orthodox Judaism,rnevangelical Christianity, Pentecostalism, even theocratic ideasrnlike Christian Reconstructionism. In American politics alone,rnwe think of the religious element that pervades such basic socialrndebates as those concerning abortion, homosexuality, andrnwomen’s rights, to say nothing of Middle Eastern policy. Forrntens of millions of Americans, unequivocal support for the staternof Israel is literally a matter of faith. Most surveys suggest thatrnperhaps 50 percent of Americans accept a biblically based viewrnof creation, a figure with vast implications for educational policy.rnAnd yet, university courses on American religion still tendrnto treat contemporary evangelical and fundamentalist notionsrnas some bizarre product of the backwoods, a kind of subset ofrnsnake-handling.rnOf course this is a generalization, which would be challengedrnin some notable departments, but the basic observation is fair.rnIf we just consider the ease of Christianity, we find that higherrneducation, like the wider culture, has lost much of the essentialrnsense of familiarity with the everyday reality of the religion.rnThis is suggested by the recent vogue for books on the strangernand distant worid of the Christian congregation or seminary.rnFifty or 100 years ago, the ordinary reader might be expected tornbe interested in exotic and unfamiliar settings like the UpperrnAmazon or New Guinea. Today, we are presumed to be familiarrnwith the basic assumptions of non-European religiousrngroups, but are deeply interested in visiting the world portrayedrnin Gary Dorsey’s recent book Congregation, which explainsrnwhat it is like to live and worship in a New England congregationrnof the United Church of Christ: a peculiar modern exoticism.rnEven more alien is the spiritual realm depicted in MikernBryan’s Chapter and Verse, which records the experiences of thernintrepid anthropologist who spent a year in a fundamentalistrnSouthern Baptist seminary in Darkest Dallas.rnIn short, it is now Christianity which is presumed to be inrnneed of scholarly exposition. The point was aptly made in arnthoughtful article some years ago in the New York Times by PeterrnSteinfels. Commenting on the film Black Robe, which portraysrnthe experience of 17th-century Jesuit missions to thernCanadian Indians, Steinfels writes: “The contemporary audiencerncomes to the theater more primed to be sympathetic tornthe shamanistic world view of the Indian tribes than to the asceticrnmissionary faith of seventeenth-century French Jesuits…rnthat audience has been better introduced to the inner world ofrndreams and omens, the She-Manitou and forest spirits, than tornthe workings of Counter-Reformation spirituality. . . . There isrna lesson here in these days of multiculturalism. No less thanrnunderstanding other cultures, one of its greatest challenges mayrnsimply be a sympathetic understanding of the Western culturernof a few centuries past.”rnAcademic departments of religion reflect the wider culture,rnand this is most apparent in the course offerings for students.rnCourses that have been flourishing within ReligiousrnStudies still tend to be those in Asian religions, as well as preliteraterncultures and ritual studies, while the hottest growth areasrnin the last decade or two have predictably involved issues ofrngender and sexual preference. Courses on women and religionrnproliferate, as do those on gay and lesbian religious issues. Thisrndoes not mean that Christianity is omitted from the curriculumrnof public universities, and biblical studies are in goodrnhealth. However, the main thrust of research and teachingrntends to be in “Christian foundations” rather than in contemporaryrnissues.rnMany departments offer courses in Christianity, but relativelyrnfew in individual traditions or denominations, and even rarerrnare such themes of contemporary interest as Catholic issues,rnthe Evangelical or Pentecostal traditions, or the Orthodoxrnchurches. Regardless of whether universities have a duty tornteach “Western traditions,” a case can certainly be made forrncoverage of such individual schools of thought, if only in termsrnof numbers: Roman Catholics alone are more numerous thanrnthe adherents of any non-Christian religion, and even the Pentecostalsrnare probably outnumbered only by Hindus and Muslimsrnworldwide. And as for their “relevance” (that vogue wordrnof the last three decades), would anyone seriously try and understandrnthe emerging Russian state without some appreciationrnof the historic contributions of Orthodox Christianity?rnCertainly students of politics know this, and not for nothing isrnthe section on religion and politics the fastest-growing segmentrnof the American Political Science Association. Getting Godrnback into the classroom might be desirable; getting Him intornthe State Department seems essential.rnThe commonest type of “religious study” which students arern24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn