Books: Mystique de la Merde

"Have you read Fitch?" is a question now heard at cocktail parties and other gatherings of writers, critics and just plain readers. The question refers to a remarkable article in the New Republic by Congregationalist Robert Elliot Fitch, 54, professor of Christian ethics and dean of Berkeley's respected Pacific School of Religion. "In view of the current revival of interest in religion," Fitch starts out, "perhaps we should take note of a brand of piety which may best be characterised as the mystique de la merde. This might be rendered in English as...

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