In an address to the United States House of Representatives September 25 commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the convening of the Continental Congress, journalist-scholar Alistair Cooke warned his hearers that the United States and the world today are faced with three immense dangers: crime and violence in the cities has become greater than at any time since the fifteenth century; the prospects of world-wide, ruinous inflation are greater than at any time since the 1920s; and overshadowing all the rest there is the prospect of man’s nuclear self-extermination.
The content of Mr. Cooke’s address, apart from a few pertinent biblical allusions, was almost entirely secular. Even so, and despite the festive nature of the occasion, he voiced a sense of foreboding strongly resembling the apocalyptic mood expressed by Malcolm Muggeridge at the Lausanne congress in July (printed in CHRISTIANITY TODAY, issue of August 16). Only a few days earlier, the American president and his secretary of state, on different occasions, had issued somber warnings of what the future may well hold in store if the nations of the world cannot change the course on which they are now headed.
It is significant that Cooke, with his acute sense of history and our relation to it, mentioned that we are in danger of reverting to conditions that have not existed since the fifteenth century, which was the last century of what we now call the Middle Ages, just before the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. Of course, many factors, secular and spiritual, coincided in bringing about the change from the medieval to what we call the modern: the voyages of discovery, colonization of the sparsely populated and immensely rich American continents, the rediscovery ...1