On the tidal wave unleashed in the Reformation after Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Catholic church. Described by Roger Kimball in a review of Jacques Barzun’s book Dawn to Decadence.
And what a tidal wave:
Manners are flouted and customs broken. Foul language and direct insult become normal, in keeping with the rest of the excitement — buildings defaced, images destroyed, shops looted. Printed sheets pass from hand to hand and are read with delight or outrage —Listen to this! Angry debates multiply about things long since settled: talk of free love, of priests marrying and monks breaking their vows, of property and wives in common, of sweeping out all evils, all corruption, all at once—all things for a new and blissful life on earth… .
Voices grow shrill, parties form and adopt names or are tagged with them in derision and contempt. Again and again comes the shock of broken friendships, broken families. As time goes on, “betraying the cause” is an incessant charge, and there are indeed turncoats.