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The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream
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Melville House 2016
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A grand and startling work of American historyAmerica was founded, we're taught in school, by the Pilgrims and other Puritans escaping religious persecution in Europe—an austere and pious lot who established a culture that remained pure and uncorrupted until the Industrial Revolution got in the way. In The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann reveals that we have it backward: American capitalism has always been entangled with religion, and so today's megapastors, for example, aren't an aberration—they're as American as Benjamin Franklin. Tracing American Christianity from John Winthrop to the rise of the Mormon Church and on to the triumph of Joel Osteen, The Money Cult is an ambitious work of history from a widely admired journalist. Examining nearly four hundred years of American history, Lehmann reveals how America's religious leaders became less worried about sin and the afterlife and more concerned with the material world, until the social gospel was overtaken by the gospel of wealth. Showing how American Christianity came to accommodate—and eventually embrace—the pursuit of profit, as well as the inescapability of economic inequality, The Money Cult is a wide-ranging and revelatory book that will make you rethink what you know about the form of American capitalism so dominant in the world today, as well as the core tenets of America itself.From the Hardcover edition.
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Street Date:
05/31/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781612195094
ASIN:
B011G4DVJ0
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APA Citation (style guide)

Chris Lehmann. (2016). The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream. Melville House.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Chris Lehmann. 2016. The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream. Melville House.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Chris Lehmann, The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream. Melville House, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Chris Lehmann. The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream. Melville House, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: CHRIS LEHMANN is the co-editor of Bookforum, senior editor and columnist for The Baffler, and book review columnist for In These Times. He has written for Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, the New York Observer, Yahoo, Slate, Salon, The Awl, Raritan, The Nation, Mother Jones, The Washingtonian, The Washington Monthly, Lingua Franca, Reason, and Democracy. He is the author of Rich People Things and Revolt of the Masscult.

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shortDescription
A grand and startling work of American history

America was founded, we're taught in school, by the Pilgrims and other Puritans escaping religious persecution in Europe—an austere and pious lot who established a culture that remained pure and uncorrupted until the Industrial Revolution got in the way.
In The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann reveals that we have it backward: American capitalism has always been entangled with religion, and so today's megapastors, for example, aren't an aberration—they're as American as Benjamin Franklin.
Tracing American Christianity from John Winthrop to the rise of the Mormon Church and on to the triumph of Joel Osteen, The Money Cult is an ambitious work of history from a widely admired journalist. Examining nearly four hundred years of American history, Lehmann reveals how America's religious leaders became less worried about sin and the afterlife and more concerned with the material world, until the...
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title
The Money Cult
fullDescription
A grand and startling work of American history

America was founded, we're taught in school, by the Pilgrims and other Puritans escaping religious persecution in Europe—an austere and pious lot who established a culture that remained pure and uncorrupted until the Industrial Revolution got in the way.
In The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann reveals that we have it backward: American capitalism has always been entangled with religion, and so today's megapastors, for example, aren't an aberration—they're as American as Benjamin Franklin.
Tracing American Christianity from John Winthrop to the rise of the Mormon Church and on to the triumph of Joel Osteen, The Money Cult is an ambitious work of history from a widely admired journalist. Examining nearly four hundred years of American history, Lehmann reveals how America's religious leaders became less worried about sin and the afterlife and more concerned with the material world, until the social gospel was overtaken by the gospel of wealth.
Showing how American Christianity came to accommodate—and eventually embrace—the pursuit of profit, as well as the inescapability of economic inequality, The Money Cult is a wide-ranging and revelatory book that will make you rethink what you know about the form of American capitalism so dominant in the world today, as well as the core tenets of America itself.
From the Hardcover edition.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Gary Shteyngart
      • content: Praise for Rich People Things: "Social criticism at its scorching-hot best." --Barbara Ehrenreich "Think H.L. Mencken crossed with Jon Stewart." --The Phoenix "This book made me laugh and cry. And wish I were a plutocrat. Chris Lehmann is an amazing writer. I will read his books until I die."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 18, 2016
        Lehmann (Rich People Things) describes, in entertaining and erudite terms, the evolution of a uniquely American Protestantism linked with a uniquely American market capitalism into a "theology of abundance" that exalts wealth, stigmatizes poverty, and regards capital gains as a mark of divine favor. Through a series of spiritual revivals and awakenings and their corresponding economic booms and busts, Lehmann explains how the strong communal vision of the early Puritans gave way to biblical truths more adapted to the market revolution and a rising commercial ethos. The surprisingly early roots of the "intensely individualist American gospel of self-help" flower quite logically, as Lehmann shows, into an evangelical piety that eschews social causes or reform crusades, preferring to sanctify the more market-friendly values of personal striving and portray "worldly gain as the just reward of the faithful." With engaging forays into Mormonism, self-help and management literature, and end-times prophecy, Lehmann persuasively posits the modern prosperity gospel as an inevitable development in the American religious landscape. This book is unlikely to embarrass believers into a social conscience or different political allegiance, but Lehmann does reveal the modern evangelical right as deeply faithful to an American economic model—one focused on industrial production—that no longer exists.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        April 1, 2016
        A lively study of how the prim Puritans of old, "tireless strivers after divine favor and sticklers for political order," became the mega-churchy materialists of today. The timeworn American Protestant form of discourse is the jeremiad. Bookforum co-editor and Baffler senior editor Lehmann (Rich People Things: Real-Life Secrets of the Predator Class, 2011) avoids that approach in favor of a full among-the-money-changers attack. Those money-changers, sticklers for authority and hierarchy, turn out to be the real subject of his book, from John Winthrop's apologies for inequality to his latter-day heirs. Although they profess to render unto Caesar, many of the leaders of the religious right are Caesar, and their Money Cult, as Lehmann dubs it, equates wealth with spiritual value. Joel Osteen and other dialing-for-dollars preachers have become ascendant in the metamorphosis of the "baser materials of competitive capitalist self-assertion into a kind of saving grace." What's more, by the author's account, they've carried the mainstream with them in this transmutation; the Sermon on the Mount notwithstanding, the dominant view now is that what matters is to come out with the most toys. Lehmann notes that the idea of prosperity promised by the First Awakening, with God providing all that one needs, is very different from the "transcendant abundance" of today, with God providing a shiny new car, a lovely home entertainment system, and enough fine clothes to make the fastidious Osteen, who "believes that God...has selected your car according to his will," proud. Lehmann is careful to document his claims as progress, and though a supporter of the religious right might take issue with the general tenor of his argument, his observations are unimpeachable. One in particular concerns the rich irony attendant in an atheistic social Darwinism, the champion of laissez faire capitalism, becoming the governing creed of the ultrareligious, with no rival movement to contest it. Lehmann makes an important and timely point, which is that American religion has always been about money.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2016

        Lehmann (Rich People Things) chronicles the relationship between the American Protestant ethos and its long tradition of self-help gurus, beginning with the New England Puritans and finishing with contemporary figures such as Joel Osteen. Far from being a simple polemic against an easy target, Lehmann provides an in-depth investigation into the social transformation of religious thought. The narrative recounts the communally minded John Winthrop; proceeds through the transformative Great Awakenings; and arrives in the 19th century with the self-made, self-improved, business-minded spirituality familiar to today's culture. Highlighted are the critical sages of this increasingly individualized faith and its market-friendly orientation, including George Whitefield, Joseph Smith, and Billy Graham. Those who pushed against the current of materialized "self-help" religion, such as William Jennings Bryan and Walter Rauschenbusch, are also examined. Some may find Lehmann's frequent descriptor of "gnostic," in regards to individualized spirituality, a bit heavy-handed. "Platonic" or "personal" would have communicated a similar meaning without the controversial associations. VERDICT A thorough, critical, and information-dense history of American "self-help" religion.--Jeffrey Meyer, Mt. Pleasant P.L., IA

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 15, 2016
        Lehmann's intellectual history of the long association between Christian faith and the pursuit of the materially good life makes enthralling reading. If the earliest Puritan and Calvinist settlers aimed to build a model Christian society, the barren (to them) wilderness they'd chosen compelled them to thrive. They came to regard thriving as ipso facto morally superior, which eroded the Protestant cornerstone of salvation by grace. If some prospered more than others, it was because they'd learned something special, perhaps hidden though not inaccessible to most believers. Such occult knowledge lies at the heart of individual salvation urged so successfully in the eighteenth-century Great Awakening, the early nineteenth-century Cane Ridge revival, Mormonism (melding individual and community prosperity), Transcendentalism, the forgotten but very influential Businessman's Revival of 1858, the twentieth-century's nondenominational mass-evangelists, right down to the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospels of today. Lehmann is presenting a four-centuries-old historical development, not attacking it, even though he can't help rhetorically asking, now and then, how a particular practice of the money cult he decries squares with the words of Christ.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

subtitle
Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream
popularity
73
publisher
Melville House
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