Writing in the combative tradition of Paul, Luther, Kierkegaard, Barth, and his own mentor Reinhold Niebuhr, Dr. Hall (McGill) issues a powerful indictment of much of what we know as mainstream North American Christianity. At the same time he argues that a version of human existence symbolized by ""the Man on the cross""--affirming the paradox that personal and social fulfillment comes only with the death of its self-interested pursuit--is our best hope. His analysis is sweeping, learned, and persuasive. Religion's role, he contends, is ultimately to overcome the conflict between expectation and experience. By this measure, the reigning modern ideologies have failed us: Marxism aggrandizes expectation to the neglect of present-day needs; existentialism (in its many popular guises) counsels immersion in a life bereft of hope; and the American dream-machine of political rhetoric and Sunday sermons makes promises of paradise which fly in the face of social realities. We must wake from the dream and confess our failure; the evidence of Vietnam, decaying cities, escalating violence, unchecked pollution cannot be denied. But there is a ""thin tradition"" that has lived on in Christendom--the theology of the Cross--that can make the experience of failure into a way of salvation. The disestablishment of Christianity and the dashing of millenial hopes for a materialistic utopia now allow the radically subversive gospel of Jesus--blessed are the poor, the meek--to be heard. Hall's is an important book and a forceful example of the sort of thinking called for by the Hartford Appeal (see Berger, above).