Falling into decades—it is a modest version of the archaic practice in European elementary schools of dividing great epochs into convenient categories: the Middle Ages came to an end and then began the Renaissance. In reality, history moves in uneven waves, not by the clock. Yet it is roughly true that the new engagement of American religion with pressing political, economic, and social issues stems from developments that happened to move to a time frame of every-ten-years. To chart the proximate future of our religious social conscience as the seventies unfold, we need to understand that “the will to enter the social arena in force,” as Daniel Callahan calls it, the religious impulse to lean more directly on secular instit...
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