Despite all the talk of America's culture war, this country has been blessed by an absence of bloody religious conflict; we've been spared anything like Europe's Thirty Years' War, and our most serious internal war involved race, not religion. To be sure, some of the clashes between Protestants and Catholics toward the end of the 19th century evoke a Kulturkampf, but they do not even come close to the troubles characteristic of the countries from which so many of our Protestants and Catholics originally came.
In the years immediately after World War II, American liberals split apart over their attitudes toward communism. Those who called themselves progressives rallied around the presidential campaign of Henry Wallace in 1948, despite evidence aplenty that the Communist Party was disproportionately calling Wallace's shots. Others, including the founders of Americans for Democratic Action, fashioned themselves into anti-communists and lined up behind Harry Truman. For all the differences they demonstrated over communism, however, postwar liberals, as the Notre Dame historian John McGreevy has pointed out, were more unified in their hostility toward the Catholic Church. Three of the countries that had been fascist--Spain, Italy, and Vichy France--were Catholic.
How should we think about work -- as just a necessary burden that we'd like to cut to a minimum or as the organizing focus of our lives? A number of new books about work, culture, and family suggest that we need to work for more than bread alone.