In February 1941, the world was at war. Nazism andnfascism ruled virtually all of Europe and parts of Africa.nImperial Japan was poised to conquer much of East Asia.nJoseph Stalin still controlled the worfd’s largest land mass,nalthough Hitler was soon to shake Stalin’s throne. That year,nPitirim A. Sorokin, born in 1889, delivered the LowellnInstitute Lectures on the topic, “The Twilight of SensatenCulture.” The lectures suinmarized his four-volume work,nSocial and Cultural Dynamics (1937), which was subsequentlynreissued in 1957 in a one-volume revision by thenauthor himselfnAlthough the immense four-volume Social and CulturalnDynamics represented many years’ work and was preparednfor publication in the early days of the Hitler regime, itnalready took nazism and fascism into account, as well, ofncourse, as communism. Sorokin was the first professor ofnsociology at the University of St. Petersburg in 1919. As anproponent of non-Bolshevik socialism, he had been sentencednto death but was pardoned by Lenin himself Hisnopposition to Bolshevism continued, and he was fortunatenenough to be expelled from the Soviet Union in 1922. Afternmaking his way to the United States, he became a professornat the University of Minnesota. He was called to HarvardnUniversity in 1930, where he founded that university’sndepartment of sociology. His interest went far beyond merendescriptive sociology; in the years after World War II, henattempted to provide leadership for what he considered thennecessary cultural shift from a “sensate” culture (his favorednterm) to a more idealist one, founding the Harvard Centernfor Creative Altruism. By altruism, Sorokin, a RussiannOrthodox communicant, seems to have meant rather thensame thing that Jesus meant when he said, “Love thynneighbor as thyself” Although I was an undergraduate and angraduate student during Sorokin’s last years of teaching, andneven had his son Sergei as a lab partner (to whom, with hisnHarold O./. Brown is the director of The RockfordnInstitute Center on Religion and Society and Formannprofessor of theology and ethics at Trinity EvangelicalnDivinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.n26/CHRON:CLESnRegression and RenewalnThe Prophecies of Pitirim Sorokinnby Harold O.J. Brownnnnbrother. Social and Cultural Dynamics was dedicated), mynexperience with Pitirim Sorokin himself was limited tonhearing him lecture and speak in chapel a few times.nNineteen ninety-one is the 50th anniversary of thosenLowell Institute lectures, which Sorokin brought out in booknform in October 1941 with the title. The Crisis of Our Age.nAt that time, Hitler had already invaded Russia and seemednfor a brief time, in the magnitude of his conquests, to benabout to repeat the exploits of the young Alexander thenGreat. Japan was on the threshold of her brilliant but briefnimperial expansion. The Western democracies were eitherndefeated and occupied (France), beleaguered (Great Britain),nor unprepared and isolationist (the United States).nSorokin made no prediction concerning the outcome of thenongoing battles, although in his earlier 1937 work he hadnforeseen that if an incredibly powerful explosive wereninvented, certainly some men would prove rash and “scientific”nenough to use it.nI bought his Crisis in a paperback edition in 1957,nwithout looking at the original date of publication, andnpromptly assumed it, as a then 16-year-old work, to be out ofndate. On rereading it 34 years later, I realized that thenpassage of time has brought ever more compelling confirmationnof Sorokin’s analysis. What is shocking is that the crisisnhe predicted 50 years ago, and which he felt must soon leadnto a radical reorientation of culture, is still with us. Thentrends that he felt were reaching their natural limits andnwould have to break have continued and become morenintense and all-pervasive. He ended The Crisis of Our Agenon a note of guarded and yet rather confident optimism, asnindeed he had already done with Social and CulturalnDynamics, but the beneficial reorientation that he expectednhas not yet taken place.nSorokin’s Dynamics belongs to a select group of threenambitious works that seeks to unravel the meaning of historynand to tell us where it is headed (Oswald Spengler’s ThenDecline of the West and Arnold Toynbee’s ten-volume AnStudy of History being the others). Sorokin’s work isnprobably the most difficult of the three to read, because henbuilds it on an incredibly large mass of data. Unlike bothn