Silence of the Shepherds

As early as 1867, Matthew Arnold warned that the ebbing of Christianity in England would disturb the societal order and usher in waves of violence.  His famous poem, "Dover Beach," noted the result of the weakening of Christianity would mean "we are here as on a darkling plain, Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night." Years later, in 1919, surveying the aftermath of World War I, William Butler Yeats would write his equally famous poem "The Second Coming."  Like Arnold, the poet saw that the dissolution of the ideals foundational to Great Britain's moral order, plus the dissolution of the global societal order imposed by the British Empire, would result in "anarchy loosed upon the world."   Certainly the paroxysms of the twentieth century have in large part been due to the fading of the British Empire and the retreat of Great Britain's influence, but probably neither Arnold nor Yeats envisioned the ravages of the...(Read Full Article)