Gress writes: “The liberal Grand Narrative produced a Western identity that was modern, secular, and liberal and that rested on an imaginary direct line connecting the modern West to the ancient Greeks, an imaginary line from Plato to NATO, in which everything in between formed an orderly sequence culminating in liberal modernity.”
Gress laments the derivative way in which the Grand Narrative treated religion, valuable only insofar as it spoke in favor of human dignity, rights, and equality. If Christianity were given any positive treatment, it would only be insofar as it supported the soft virtues of kindness and generosity and defending the rights of individuals. Proponents of the Grand Narrative generally treated religion as a hindrance to progress and therefore could not see Christianity’s contribution to the work of the Greeks and Romans.
If Christianity was overlooked in the Grand Narrative, the Germanic contribution to the “Old Western Synthesis” has been forgotten altogether. For Gress, “the West” is “truly defined” by “the ancient philosopher, the Christian priest, and the Germanic warrior.” The Germanic contribution to “the West” was popular for many years, especially among the WASPs. It was even held by some that the Germano-Aryan-Caucasian warrior must have comprised the majority of Greeks and Romans and that marriages with “lesser races” brought about a loss of martial vigor and decline. The early Grand Narrative also cited Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that the German chief and his warriors would gather in grand assemblies to discuss and vote on important matters. Thus from the Germans came both the strong warrior and the democratic statesman.