In our strange cultural moment it is necessary to make a distinction between religious propaganda and religious thought, the second of these being an attempt to do some sort of justice to the rich difficulties present in the tradition. The great problem for Christianity is always the humility of the figure in whom God is said to have been incarnate, and the insistence of the tradition that God is present in the persons of the despised and rejected. The failure of the notionally Christian worlds of Russia and Mississippi to be in any way sufficient to the occasion of Christ among them would be a true report always and everywhere. But theology is only in part social commentary. Crucially it has to do with the authority of a vision, of a world that is only like this world in essence. The sermon interprets Benjy’s wordless first chapter, a tale told as passionate memory of gentleness and love, Faulkner interceding to evoke for Benjy thoughts that are too deep for the words of any writer but one who is generous and also great. Everyone knows that life is profaned when such thoughts are neglected, as they so often are. As a statement about human consciousness and the reality that contains us, this vision is always familiar and never easier to accept. Paul quotes an ancient hymn in his letter to the Philippians that says Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” And this recalls the servant described in the book of Isaiah, “one from whom men hide their faces,” who “was despised, and we esteemed him not.” In its emphatic insistence that the burden of meaning is shared in every life, the Bible may only give expression to a truth most of us know intuitively. But as a literary heritage or memory it has strengthened the deepest impulse of our literature, and our ­civilization.