The subject of Professor Meyer’s superb study concerns the dissolution of the Protestant ethic, its relationship to a general failure of nerve within the American community, and the consequent rise of a pseudo-theology in the guise of a pseudo-psychology, as reflected through the work of certain “mind-cure” practitioners, from Mary Baker Eddy to Norman Vincent Peale. It is a subject largely ignored by intellectuals, and Professor Meyer, in taking it out of the domain of the Reader’s Digestor similar habitations, has produced a real service, not only to sociology and political science, disciplines in which he is very well versed, but also to mass-culture and the vague but insidious ethos behind it. In describing what the sub-title states as “the American Quest for Health, Wealth, and Personal Power,” Professor Meyer works from an historical perspective, does not beat any drums nor ride any hobby horse; scholarly care and an in-depth generosity illuminate a number of intricate concepts, whether they be “individualism,” laissez-faire industry or the peculiar role and influence of women within society. His work is schematized yet fluid, showing how a process of ego-disintegration has paradoxically resulted out of the improperly understood religious orientation of the past and the anxiety-ridden religious revival of the present. Today God “means” Adjustment.
—Virgina Kirkus, Kirkus Reviews
Ebook | $19.99
Published by Pantheon Feb 06, 2013| 400 Pages| ISBN 9780307828231
“I find it incredible that this superb book should have gone unnoticed for 15 years! I have read nothing else that connects religious belief, culture, and politics so well; and Meyer’s unobtrusively epigrammatic style delights me. E. M. Forster would have loved this book though he could not have written it.” —Edgar Z. Friedenberg, author of The Vanishing Adolescent and Coming of Age in America
“Remarkable . . . A delightful scholarly investigation of American mind-cure movements.” —The Nation