[Kenneth] Woodward locates the Methodist Moment as having begun in modern U.S. politics back in 1972, but he notes that it passed quickly after the flop of Methodist George McGovern’s presidential campaign. Yet Woodward finds good reason to talk about a named “moment” because, as it slows or morphs, it leaves behind a changed landscape””think of a glacial moraine, which marks where a glacier once changed a mountainside, then lives on in stony and rocky residue. We live off that residue in the new landscape. Woodward lists many features of this Methodist influence in political movements, some of which he does not favor at all, and others which have to be reckoned with anew.
My interest in “episodes” and “moments” derives from my impulse to caution against utopian visions of causes, the belief that this time “we” have invented or devised or worked for a continually energetic movement or achievement. The concept of the “moment” is a reminder that nothing lasts, but that participants in efforts to change, though they do not win, may well be deserving of investment, renewal, revisitation. Only believers in inevitable and enduring progress, or who idolize their own efforts and causes, forget that episodes and moments come and go””for better and/or for worse.