Oh my. "Bob Herbert is off today." Ahem. In his place, David Brooks discovers a commenter at Marginal Revolution speculating on what is more or less the premise of a P.D. James novel. No one seems to realize that they are speculating on the premise of a P.D. James novel, even though it very recently became an acclaimed Alfonso Cuaron movie. Everyone discovers that The Children Are Our Future. Exeunt. Fin.
As if this were not foolish and useless enough, Bobo crowbars a goofy and incorrect description of both Judaism and Christianity into the middle of his peroration:
Both Judaism and Christianity are promise-centered faiths. They are based on narratives that lead from Genesis through progressive revelation to a glorious culmination.A semantic quibble: Judaism is not about a promise, but a covenant--a distinction with a difference. Judaism is also not a religion of "progressive revelation," although one can certainly understand Brooks desire to cram explicitly Christian theology backward in time and history in order to make the classic Western cryptozionist case that there is something--a culture, a civilization?--that can be described as "Judeo-Christian," when in fact on matters of cosmogony, epistemology, moral philosophy, metaphysics, etc., Christianity's far more ancient forebear ranges from markedly different to wholly alien. Even Jewish messianism, which Christians of the Brooks vintage view as a precursor to their own, is very different. The incorporation of the so-called Old Testament into Christian scripture does not actually make Christianity a new version of Judaism; Judaism is the remnant tribal religion of a gang of near-Eastern clans from the pre-Hellenic age, whereas Christianity is a sort of synecretic neo-paganism. Look it up! There's a reason all those holidays fall on old Roman and Celtic festivals.
Believers’ lives have significance because they and their kind are part of this glorious unfolding. Their faith is suffused with expectation and hope. If they were to learn that they were simply a dead end, they would feel that God had forsaken them, that life was without meaning and purpose.
Aside from that, the phrase "progressive revelation" reeks of Dispensationalism, a charismatic notion thoroughly rejected by mainline protestant sects, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity. Dispensationalism is a sort of scifi millenarian religious casuistry in which infidelity to various biblical injunctions is rationalized against sola scripta claims by positing a kind of forward-rolling cosmic pseudo-cycle in which only certain parts of the divine writ obtain at any given time. You may consider this description bowdlerizing, but in reality I am giving undue deference to the most crackpot "spiritual" system this side of the Hale-Bopp comet.