OPINIONSrnCity of Man, City of Godrnby James Hitchcockrn”Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.”rn—Psalms LXXXVIIrnHeart of the World, Heartrnof the Churchrnby David L. SchindlerrnGrand Rapids: Eerdmans;rn3iO pp., $37.50rnThis rich and complex book is on onernlevel the summing up of a controversyrnover a properly Christian, specificallyrnCatholic, view of politics which hasrnpitted the author, a theologian, againstrncertain “neoconservative” thinkers, notablyrnRichard Neuhaus, Michael Novak,rnand Ceorge Weigel. Beyond them,rnSchindler takes issue vvith the late Jesuitrntheologian John Courtney Murray,rnwhose specialty was church-state relationsrnand who is credited with the onlyrnoriginal American contribution to thernSecond Vatican Council—the decree onrnreligious liberty.rnMurray is hailed, both in secular andrnreligious circles, for refuting once and forrnall the idea of the union of church andrnstate, at one time held by almost all religionsrnand abandoned especially late byrnsome Catholics. Murray claimed thatrnthe “neutrality” of the American politicalrnsystem makes possible an uninhibitedrnChristian embrace of modern democracy,rnsince neutrality proves to offer thernmost favorable climate for the developmentrnof religion. Schindler, however,rnconsiders this neutrality a “con job,” arguingrnthat it embodies a secular ideology.rnBelievers are invited to participaternin the system without realizing that theyrnare being required to prescind from theirrnfaith, to become “a-theists.” Hence, inrnSchindler’s view, Catholic neoconservajamesrnHitchcock is a professor of historyrnat St. Louis University. He is completingrna book on the Supreme Court andrnreligion.rntives are unduly optimistic about thernexceptional character of American, asrnopposed to E’uropean, democracy.rnWhile his thesis may be true, it requiresrna good deal more historical explorationrnthan Schindler offers. Presumablyrnhe agrees with those who think the UnitedrnStates was from its inception the childrnof the antireligious Enlightenment, butrnhere that is merely assumed. Oddly, givenrnhis purposes, Schindler does not examinernthe nation’s founding documentsrnand their subsequent interpretation, inrnspite of the national debate proceedingrnin—among other places—the halls ofrnthe Supreme Court. The real problemrnwith the First Amendment is not its implicitrnideology but its cryptic character.rnNo one knows what “respecting an establishmentrnof religion” means, so the debaterncontinues.rnAs a philosopher Schindler appears tornbelieve that he who says A must say B,rnwhereas a historian would reply that hernwho says A can then say just about anythingrnhe pleases—not because the historianrnrejects the authority of logic but becausernhe realizes that very few people arernlogical. Thus, whatever may have beenrnthe intention of the Founding Fathers,rnthe present civil-libertarian understandingrnof the Religion Clause was not simplyrndetermined from the beginning. Allrnsuch things tend finally to be shaped by arnseries of historical contingencies, whichrnmeans that at many points in history anotherrnroad might have been taken. Forrnexample, Joseph Story, one of the greatestrnjustices of the Supreme Court and anrnauthoritative commentator on the Constitution,rnheld that the common law incorporatedrnChristianity. The modernrnunderstanding of the Religion Clause isrntraceable to the appointment of certainrnjustices to the Supreme Court by PresidentrnFranklin Roosevelt, although it isrnunlikely that Roosevelt desired, intended,rnor even foresaw the effect those appointmentsrnwould eventually have on religion.rnThus, in a sense, the presentrnjurisprudence of the First Amendment isrndue to the Great Depression and thernNew Deal to which it gave rise. So, also,rnthe Republican promise to mount arncounterrevolution was thwarted by a seriesrnof political contingencies. Schindlerrnaddresses this subject in a footnote, citingrnthe opinion of another theologianrnthat in the long run the contradictionsrninherent in false interpretations will revealrnthemselves. But history shows oth-rnSEPTEMBER 1997/31rnrnrn