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He simply breathed, al all of us do, the toxic cultural air of a disenchanted world in which the mark of sophistication is to reduce wonder to banality. Even more, the acids of intellectual urbanity turn sacrifice into delusion, generosity into greed, and love into self-aggrandizement. In academic circles, this is called “the hermeneutics of suspicion,” meaning that things are interpreted to reveal that they are not in fact what they appear to be. At least things that seem to suggest the true, the beautiful and the good are not what they appear to be. They must be exposed and debunked if we are to get to “the truth of the matter.” The false, the self-serving, the ugly and the evil, on the other hand are permitted to stand as revealing “the real world.”

Reverence is vulgar; irreverence is chic.

An Excerpt from Death on a Friday Afternoon by Richard John Neuhaus, Basic Books, 2000.


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