It is becoming evident that Christianity in the Western world is going through some sort of change or crisis. New patterns of spirit are rising. The state of religion in America at mid-century has been discussed recently and excellently by Will Herberg (Protestant, Catholic, Jew, 1955) and by Martin Marty (The New Shape of American Religion, 1959). Both use a sociological approach. The gist of their message is that a new religious outlook is rapidly emerging, based essentially on conformity to “the American way of life,” and that this new outlook poses many problems for any vital religious message.

These new patterns, we would suggest, seem to imply a general shift of values, a change in man’s view of Reality, so far-reaching in nature as to reflect the emergence of a “new mind,” a new outlook on man and the cosmos. Its startling significance may be gauged from a remark by C. S. Lewis: “Christians and Pagans had more in common with each other than either has with a post-Christian” (Time Magazine, May 2, 1955).

Those who subscribe to this “post-modern” mind do not always do it consciously; nevertheless, their behavior and half-formulated assumptions make sense only in terms of it. A philosopher like Jean-Paul Sartre will explicitly formulate his view of why man is not bound by history; a novelist sympathetic to the “beat” position, like Norman Mailer, will approvingly define a hipster as “a man who has divorced himself from history, who does not give a (blank) about the past” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 28, 1960); the teen-ager will seriously look with contempt upon history as neither true nor valuable.

This “post-modern” mind, however it appears, does indeed pose new problems for the Church, and problems with which it is ...

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