38 / CHRONICLESngotten. Tuveson’s study leads the readernto consider what happens when a country,nwhich began its history motivatednby the beUef that faith in God requirednmen to perform righteous acts, loses itsnfaith but retains its zeal. One possibilitynis that it will continue to act with anfervent confidence in its own purityneven as it loses its formerly sound foundationnand clear purpose. That mayndescribe the history of America andnsuggest why our country must regainnsomething of its earlier self, howevernmodified, if it is to survive in a worldnwhere other empires act with equalnor superior zeal and deadly seriousnpurpose.nTuveson’s argument kept popping innand out of my mind as I read LouisnAuchincloss’ latest novel. HonorablenMen. Not that the novel is a perfectnfictional form for its themes.nAuchincloss’ method of dual narrationn(first person in some chapters, thirdnperson in others) distracts rather thannfacilitates the narrative, and the novelendingnconversion of the protagonist,nChip Benedict, from his errant ways isnless than convincing.nYet elements of Tuveson’s argumentsnare effectively realized in HonorablenMen—whether in spite of or because ofnthe author’s intentions, I cannot say.nThese elements emerge in the characternof Chip Benedict and the America henrepresents. The Vietnam War introducednAmerica to a group of leadersnwho had lost all moral clarity. Confident,ntechnically minded wizards, RobertnMcNamara and the rest of DavidnHalberstam’s best and brightest werenmen with no inkling that their enemiesnmight be evil men representing annalien, destructive ideology. Their effortsnrested on nothing more substantial thanntheir personal wills and the taxpayers’nmoney; as soon as one or the other ranndry, the game was up, leaving a bewil­ndered group of men who never possessednthe virtue and foresight necessarynto shoulder the burden they tried toncarry.nHonorable Men paints a fuzzy butnstill memorable picture of a man who,naccording to the fiction, rises to becomena member of this unfortunate cadre.nChip Benedict is rigid and willful—nalmost religious in his dedication tonwhatever goal consumes him at a givenntime. But religiosity of that kind is notnfaith, and it is precisely what makesnChip dangerous. He serves with a tenaciousnspirit in World War II and worksnin the State Department during Vietnamnwith equal resolve. But throughoutnhis career he never understandsnwhat his friend and career naval officernGerald Hastings tries to tell him, thatnit’s not simply an enemy but the enemy’snstate of mind, his beliefs, thatnought to be hated. Lacking this understanding,nChip can only play at beingnwhat Hastings is, a patriot and (in hisnown peculiar way) a redeemer.nAs our liberal century has progressednfrom one debacle to another, men havenprayed for their righteous causes—nwithout believing in God. Gus Leighton,nfriend to Chip’s wife, Alida, spotsnthe problem in Chip early on when henwarns her of the dangers of his “rigidity”nonce divorced from faith. “What Insuppose I’m trying to say,” he says, “isnthat if you scrap Christ, you’d betternscrap the whole business of religion andntake your chances with reason.” Innother words, the redeemer manque, notnthe Redeemer, is America’s bane.nAuchincloss may not realize what henhas said, but if Honorable Men carriesnany lasting point, it is that the generationnof men who governed America fornthe larger part of this century havennever acted in the service of any noblencause, because the very terms undernwhich nobility might obtain did notnBOOKS IN BRIEF—RELIGION & PHILOSOPHYnThe First Theologians by Charles W. Lowry, Chicago: Gateway. Churches on the WrongnRoad, edited by Stanley Atkins and Theodore McConnell, Chicago: Gateway. Lowrynrecounts the battle fought by the earliest Christian theologians against the gnostic belief thatnthe earth was diabolical; Atkins and McConnell have assembled 10 distinguished observersn(including Russell Kirk, John Howard, and Gerhart Niemeyer) who fear that many churchesnnow recognize nothing holier than terrestrial politics.nPhilosophy Through the Looking Glass: Language, Nonsense, Desire by Jean-JacquesnLecercle, La Salle, IL: Open Court. The French passion for new theories of language hasntaken them, literally, to the madhouse, where Lecercle analyzes the “reflective delirium . . .ncreated by talented patients.”nA Chesterton Anthology, edited by P.J. Kavanagh, San Francisco: Ignatius. A rich samplingnof the journalism, poetry, and fiction of the worthy adversary of H.G. Wells and BernardnShaw.nnnexist for them. The Cavalier Lovelacenunderstood well that he could not lovenLucasta, loved he not honor more.nTruly honorable men know—as ChipnBenedict does not—that they cannotnlove honor or be honorable if they donnot love something else, something infinitelynsuperior, more. Whether thatnsomething should or should not benacknowledged both publicly and privatelynis the subject of the burningndebate of our time, one on which thenfate of the West hinges.nCarl C. Curtis is assistant professor ofnEnglish at Liberty University.nDisinteringnDetentenby Michael WardernThe Soviet Paradox: External Expansion,nInternal Decline by Seweryn Bialer,nNew York: Alfred A. Knopf;n$21.95.nThe Soviet Union has reached the peaknof its military power by reducing itsneconomy to a shambles. If it continuesnto lavish its resources on the military,nthe economy will further decline, eventuallynimperiling the military budget. Ifnthe Soviets shift investment to the civilianneconomy, less money will remainnfor guns. If the Politburo permits significantneconomic reform throughndecentralization and free markets, theneffect on Eastern Europe, China, andnother communist countries would politicallyndestabilize the Soviet Empire.nThe Soviets are stuck and will probablyntry to improve the existing system rathernthan reform it. Soviet leaders have nonoption but to continue to rely upon thensame cold-war rhetoric so often used tongalvanize the citizenry into action.nSuch is the general thesis of The SovietnParadox by Seweryn Bialer.nBialer is, in some ways, as perplexingnas the Soviet Union itself A leadingnSovietologist and director of the ResearchnInstitute for Internal Change atnColumbia University, he has written ancomprehensive and lucid book on Sovietndomestic and foreign policy. Basednon the latest research of a wide varietynof Sovietologists, his major conclusionsnare measured and insightful. Chaptersnon the dynamics of leadership,nsuccesssion, and the problemsnof systemic reform are especiallynilluminating. Now and then,nthough, the author lapses into statementsnthat suggest that he hasn