CommentFeb1984
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Webster’s defines culture as a variation of the verb cultivate. It is time, therefore, for us to look at what, as a nation, we are cultivating.

In our government schools, which we persist in calling “public,” students are taught that virtually any loose community can be called a society, and that the world is driven by “progress.” But Émile Durkheim, one of sociology’s fathers, believed that a society could not exist without sharing certain principles and beliefs, that religion holds a society together. Thus, a change in religion leads to a change in moral values. To Durkheim, society is a religious phenomenon. Max Weber carried this insight further. He credited the Calvinists with having baptized all society and with expanding the idea of worship into every aspect of work. This evoked bitter attacks, of course. Nevertheless, it is now — thanks to Weber and Durkheim — tactfully accepted that sociology and history must accept the reality of intangible influences.

With this in mind, let’s look at our world, our civilization. The extent of change in what is now considered acceptable from what was once forbidden is astonishingly sweeping. For example, the members of this civilization shared basic beliefs for centuries, yet they have been discarded in just...

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