Union had to decide for himself whether to adhere to hisnstate or to his Nation; and I finally assert that whichever waynhe decided, if only he decided honestly, putting self-interestnbehind him, he decided right.”nIn another expression of the tragic sense, WinstonnChurchill, in his closing volume on the Second World War,nremarks that the cost of ridding Europe of one tyrant wasndelivering half of the same continent to another. In summingnup his theme, Churchill stated that he intended tondiscuss “how the Great Democracies triumphed and sonwere able to resume their follies which so nearly cost themntheir life.”nWhen tragic history is related to a lost civilization, itncelebrates a vanished splendor, while examining the reasonsnfor its loss. Churchill, for example, looked back fondly at thenliberal middle-class society of 19th-century Europe, whilenrecording the assaults on it by global wars and radicalnideologies. Henry Adams wrote about the American Republic’snfounding generation as the representative of a silver agenreviewing the achievements of a golden one. A similarnnostalgia pervades the introduction of Edward Gibbon’snmagisterial Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbonnmade no secret of his respect for the Roman Empire at itsnheight under Trajan, and he devoted his magnum opus tondiscussing the long tortuous descent of the Western Empirenand its Byzantine successor down to the sack of Constantinoplenin 1453.nI would contrast this attitude with the one found in CarlnN. Degler’s exhaustive study of women’s history. At Odds,npublished in 1980. I cite this work because of its author’snscholarship and his reputation as a moderate leftist who triesnhard not to tip his hand. After surveying all the achievementsnof the feminist movement in postwar America,nDegler observes without much apparent concern that therennow exists “a tension between the family and individualninterests of women. Women find realization of themselvesnas persons impossible to achieve within family situations.”n(One might ask which women Degler is referring to.nAccording to Gallup and other polls, well over 80 percent ofnLn201 CHRONICLESnAmerican women seem to consider their families theirnprimary area of interest.)nDespite such “tensions,” Degler reassures us that “obviouslynhow any individual woman perceives her future is upnto her. The family, after all, is at bottom nothing more thanna relation between a man and a woman and their offspring.”nIn most families, there are still other supporting characters,nsuch as siblings and their children, aging parents, or even anmaiden aunt who lives with her relatives. In Degler’s world,nby contrast, there are only urban yuppies, doing their ownnthing without extended familial attachments.nIt is by means of this privileged model that he points usntoward the future: “Will it be possible for women and mennto work out some arrangement, call it family or somethingnelse, in which these two goals can be realized? Or must thenhistorical drive for women’s individuality stop short of fullnrealization in the name of children, husband and family?”nHaving brought us this far, Degler now looks across thenJordan River: “Never before has the tension been so evidentnor the room for maneuver so narrow. After 200 years ofndevelopment both the future of the family and the fulfillmentnof women as persons are at odds as never before.nPresumably a resolution will come in something less thanntwo centuries.” Need the reader doubt about which sidenwill — and, as viewed by Degler, should—triumph in thenfullness of time?nA skeptic might want to raise the question about whethernDegler is describing the totality of American society, ornmerely confining himself to his colleagues at Stanford. Butnconceding the tension he stressed, why should we assumeneveryone will be okay in two centuries? Are we to make thenimprobable assumption that the worsening tension betweennpossessive individualism and social obligation will be resolvednwithin 200 years by affluent couples guided bynenlightened self-interest? Professor Degler is of course freento believe anything he likes. Fortunately, the rest of us stillnhave the right to ignore this comedy disguised as history, andnto look for the real thing outside the academy.nThe Fourth Annual Erasmus LecturenBIBLICAL INTERPRETATIOn IN CRISISnOn the Question of the Foundations and Approaches of Exegesis Todaynby Joseph Cardinal RatzingernPrefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.nPresident of the International Theological Commission and Pontifical Biblical Commission.nTo order your copy of BIBLICAL IMTERPRETATION IN CRISIS send $2.50 (includes postage andnhandling) with the coupon below to: The Rockford Institute / 934 North Main Street / Rockford,nIllinois 61103.nD Please send my copy of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s “BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION IN CRISIS.nD Enclosed is my check or money order for $2.50nMamenAddressnCitynMail to: Tiie Rockord Institute / 934 n. Main St. / Rocirford, IL 61103nnn-State – Zip-nJn