The notion of the perfectibility of man came about at the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th century. This is what the South has traditionally opposed. "How far we have fallen" means the fall of Adam, the fall from innocence, from sanctifying grace. The South in other words still believes that man has fallen and that he is only perfectible by God's grace, not by his own unaided efforts. The Liberal approach is that man has never fallen, never incurred guilt, and is ultimately perfectible by his own efforts. Therefore, evil in this light is a problem of better housing, sanitation, health, etc. and all mysteries will eventually be cleared up. Judgment is out of place because man is not responsible. Of course there are degrees of adherence to this, all sorts of mixtures, but it is the direction the modern heads toward.
- Flannery O'Connor