Facing the Music by ProQuest


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									                                tapositions. Still, the internal battles that   David Castronovo
                                have rocked the Catholic Church since
                                Vatican II are not likely to vanish, even
                                as the church’s population and attention        Facing	the	Music
                                shift southward. As the South becomes
                                more influential, it will face the same                                                      hopes of his own parents. In Dancing in
                                vexing questions bedeviling the North
                                                                                Dancing	in	the	Dark                          the Dark, he examines some of the artistic
                                                                                A	Cultural	History	of	the	Great	
                                and the West: How to understand the                                                          and cultural expressions of those hopes
                                human person in an increasingly diverse,                                                     and fears, and does so with compassion,
                                                                                Morris Dickstein
                                materialistic, and scientifically geared        W. W. Norton, $29.95, 624 pp.
                                                                                                                             gusto, and fine scholarship.
                                world? How to heed and interpret Scrip-                                                          The title of the book comes from the
                                ture in the light of new historical under-                                                   Arthur Schwartz–Howard Dietz song of

                                standings, particularly concerning issues                 any a baby boomer was raised       1931, a lush, moody composition about
                                not addressed in biblical times? How to                   on tales of the Great Depres-      a couple in a ballroom—“waltzing in the
                                incorporate the experiences and insights                  sion, tales of sharecroppers,      wonder of why we’re here,” “looking for
                                of women as full partners in both church        breadlines, NRA parades, and sparing a       the light,” and determined to “face the
                                and society? And how to convey God’s            dime for a brother in need. These often      music together.” The lyric serves as a dis-
                                gracious, salvific presence in the midst of     played a bigger part in our lives than Dr.   tillation of several themes in the volume:
                                environmental, economic, intellectual,          Spock. My mother, who learned about          yearning and wondering about our na-
                                political, and religious upheaval?              John Steinbeck’s work from a savvy nun       tional condition, being afraid of what’s
                                   Having arrived at the final chap-            at a Brooklyn high school, regarded the      next, keeping going. Dickstein has au-
                                ter of this long book, some readers will        depiction of the Joad family’s struggle in   thored two other “decade” books—one
                                be surprised when Allen raises an “in-          The Grapes of Wrath as a moral touch-        on the 1950s, another on the ’60s. He is
                                dustrial-size caution” about all that has       stone, a must-know story of human            used to making big generalizations and
                                gone before. Suddenly sounding less like        dignity imperiled. Morris Dickstein,         managing a large cast. Educated at Co-
                                Thomas Friedman than like Warren Buf-           Distinguished Professor of English at the    lumbia University, where he was a pupil
                                fett, Allen warns readers that “strategies      CUNY Graduate Center, grew up hear-          of Lionel Trilling, Dickstein was bred on
                                premised on the assumption that the fu-         ing about the Depression-era fears and       the humanistic idea that literature is a
                                ture will be like the past, only more so,
                                generally turn out to be wrong,” and ad-
                                mits that “the presumption that these
                                megatrends necessarily will turn the
                                Catholic Church upside down rests on a
                                potentially shaky premise.” Despite that
                                concession, one would be wrong to think
                                the author might revise his forecasts, if
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