A reader writes:
As so often, Tocqueville got there first:"Not only do the American practice their religion out of self-interest, but they often even place in this world the interest which they have in practicing it. Priests in the Middle Ages spoke of nothing but the other life; they hardly took any trouble to prove that a sincere Christian might be happy here below. But preachers in America are continually coming down to earth. Indeed they find it difficult to take their eyes off it. The better to touch their hearers, they are forever pointing out how religious beliefs favor freedom and public order, and it is often difficult to be sure when listening to them whether the main object of religion is to procure eternal felicity in the next world or prosperity in this." Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. II, Part 2, ch. 9
It actually struck me as curious Rosin didn't mention this passage or others. Well, not really.
Notice a few pages later Tocqueville has a moving section on how American are "Restless in the Midst of Prosperity." A brief passage:"When everything is more or less level, the slightest variation is noticed. Hence the more equal men are, the more insatiable will be their longing for equality...That is the reason for the strange melancholy often haunting inhabitants of democracies in the midst of abundance, and of that disgust with life sometimes gripping them in calm and easy circumstances."
In short, there's almost an intrinsic connection between the Prosperity Gospel (and the broader culture of which it is a part) and Prozac Nation. Ha.
(Image: Mark Peterson/Redux.)