That Old-Time Religion
DEVELOPMENTS in American popular religion in the past five years seem designed to confound anyone’s confidence in his own prophetic powers. All our social sciences, our vast accumulation of data, our frenzied and persistent analysis of our “situation” (practically unparalleled in earlier societies) do not seem on the whole to have made us surer or wiser about what the future has in store.
Most badly shaken has been what might be called the rationalist-humanist understanding of Western history. In this view the development of Occidental culture has been, in modern times, a gradual movement away from what is “backward,” “primitive,” “superstitious,” or “sacral,” toward the growing domination of rationality, the scientific and empirical spirit, an easy secularity, and man’s sense of control over his own destiny.
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