Between Two Ages: The 21st Century and the Crisis of Meaning

Between Two Ages: The 21st Century and the Crisis of Meaning

by William Van Dusen Wishard
     
 

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"In Between Two Ages, Van Wishard has provided us with a masterful synthesis of the main currents of history, ranging over the centuries with an expert´s eye to identify the key trends in economics, technology and culture that have led us to this place in time.

By itself, this would be an important contribution to our understanding. But the true

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Overview

"In Between Two Ages, Van Wishard has provided us with a masterful synthesis of the main currents of history, ranging over the centuries with an expert´s eye to identify the key trends in economics, technology and culture that have led us to this place in time.

By itself, this would be an important contribution to our understanding. But the true significance of Between Two Ages lies in his placing this analysis within a profoundly moral and ethical framework. Van Wishard has not simply diagnosed the reasons for our spiritual malaise. He has also suggested how each of us can overcome this malaise and find a larger purpose or meaning to our lives.

From the foreword by Dr. Mitchell B. Reiss
Dean of International Affairs
College of William & Mary

Introduction

Despite the stratospheric heights of the Dow in recent years, the allure of prosperity and the astounding possibilities opening up for human fulfillment, the next three decades could be the most decisive 30-year period in the history of mankind. Thus you and I are living in the midst of perhaps the most uncertain period America has ever known — more difficult than World War II, the Depression or even the Civil War. With these earlier crises, an immediately identifiable, focused emergency existed, an emergency people could see and mobilize to combat.

But the crisis today is of a different character and order. For America is at the vortex of a global cyclone of change so vast and deep that it is uprooting established institutions, altering centuries-old relationships, changing underlying mores and attitudes, and now, so the experts tell us, even threatening the continued existence of the human species. It is not simply change at the margins; it is change at the very core of life. Culture-smashing change. Identity-shattering change. Soul-crushing change. Prior generations faced change within a context of stable institutions that functioned more or less effectively. Earlier generations had a more stable—if less comfortable—framework, as well as more clearly defined reference points. Our era doesn´t have such guides, for all of America´s institutions, from government to family, from business to religion, are in upheaval. The past century has seen civilized life increasingly ripped from its moorings. The immutable certainties that anchored our ancestors no longer seem to hold in a world where the tectonic plates of life are clashing, where human antagonisms obliterate tens of thousands of people in Africa, Bosnia or Chechnya in a matter of a few days or weeks, where a stray bullet ends the life of an elderly lady quietly walking home from church in Washington, D.C. In so many ways, a life that has lost its essential meaning has cut giant swaths across humanity. Clearly, we have been standing at a unique historical dividing line — the end of the modern era, as well as the Industrial Age, the end of the colonial period, the end of the Atlantic-based economic, political and military global hegemony, the end of America´s culture being drawn primarily from European sources, the end of the masculine patriarchal/hierarchical epoch, and as Joseph Campbell suggests, the end of the Christian eon. Obviously, one era doesn´t stop and a new one start in a week. Years—even decades or generations—of overlap take place. The sense of an age ending and something new emerging was evident during the earliest years of the 20th century. In 1913, Harvard philosopher George Santayana noted: "The civilization characteristic of Christendom has not yet disappeared, yet another civilization has begun to take its place." In 1928, at the height of the "Roaring Twenties," historian Will Durant wrote, "Human conduct and belief are now undergoing transformations profounder and more disturbing than any since the appearance of wealth and philosophy put an end to the tradition

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781462829170
Publisher:
Xlibris US
Publication date:
06/29/2001
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
668,125
File size:
719 KB

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