The most important thing I inherited from my parents was faith. Its substance made me, on average, a trusting person, and its content can be stated equally simply: We are in good hands, and in gratitude for that fact, we do well to bear one another's burdens.
On coming to America for college, I brought that faith with me, and the rest of my life has been a struggle to keep it intact in the face of modern winds of doctrine that assail it. If those winds were powered by truth, I would bow to them, but as I have not found them to be so, I must point that out.
The crisis that the world finds itself in as it swings on the hinge of a new millennium is located in something deeper than particular ways of organizing political systems and economies. In different ways, the East and the West are going through a single common crisis whose cause is the spiritual condition of the modern world. That condition is characterized by loss--the loss of religious certainties and of transcendence, with its larger horizons.
The nature of that loss is strange but ultimately quite logical. When, with the inauguration of the scientific worldview, human beings started considering themselves the bearers of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, meaning began to ebb and the stature of humanity to diminish. The world lost its human dimension, and we began to lose control of it.
To grasp this point, we need not take the rhetoric of such movements literally. The sandwich man between placards announcing that the end is near is telling us something important, even though the end is not what he thinks it is. He is not just protesting our reigning culture. However falteringly, he is gesturing toward a heavenly city that offers an alternative to this earthly one, which is always deeply flawed.