Bare ruined choirs"" is a bleak Shakespearean phrase, conjuring up visions of devastation, desolation, abandonment -- much like the 14 essays which make up this book. Under the subtitle of ""Doubt, Prophecy and Radical Religion,"" Mr. Wills ruminates on the ruin and, perhaps, on the restoration of the Church, surveying subjective milestones in the process of change in the Catholic establishment: the closing of the Jesuit seminary in Woodstock, the doomed liturgical ""revival,"" the birth control issue and resolution, changing attitudes toward sex, the two Johns, and clerical activism, among other subjects. There is nothing new and startling in Wills' observations, perhaps intentionally so. The book offers retrospective insights -- an unusual interpretation here, an expert little hatchet-job there (on Triumph magazine). It derives strength not from a particular piece or from a unified expression of particular convictions, but from the totality of its parts and from the fact that Wills, as a writer, is a superior craftsman (he also did Nixon Agonistes). Simultaneously depressing, satisfying, irritating, responsive and facile -- much like the Church Wills observes.