Such optimism was greatly needed as Buchman faced the post-war world. Every major war brings demoralisation, but one where, in Churchill's words, 'torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilised, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves',13 drastically undermined both spiritual belief and traditional morality. 'At the beginning of the 1920s,' as one historian relates, 'the belief began to circulate, for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes: of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value.'14 This belief coincided with - or perhaps was in part caused by - two other contemporary phenomena: the wide- spread acceptance of Freudianism, and the fact that Leninism, with its espousal of atheism and a totally relative morality, now controlled one of the major countries of the world. In fact, the age of relativism had arrived, and - much to Einstein's displeasure, for he himself believed passionately in absolute standards of right and wrong- his theory of relativity was used to give scientific respectability to the whole process. As moral relativism spread, it became the dominant theme of art and literature over many decades and penetrated every area of life, lay and ecclesiastical. Buchman, with his uncompromising beliefs, was to find himself more and more often swimming against the tide. It was to batter him, but not to turn him from his purpose.

That purpose was entirely positive. He never organised a protest against anything, still less denounced anyone in public. His response to every difficulty was the faith that God could change people, and the more serious he perceived the state of the world to be, the more intensely he concentrated on individuals. As the century progressed and moral relativism manifested itself in ever more powerful forms, he felt that his calling was to raise a world-wide force of God-directed people.

For the moment, he was returning to his job at Hartford and to the succour of his mother and father. But it became increasingly clear to him that he was intended to find new ways of working and, after his Chinese experience, he was less and less willing to let any job or institution stand in the way of following them.