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Heaven in the American Imagination$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.001.0001

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Heaven in a Postmodern, Anxiety-Ridden, Entertainment-Oriented, Therapeutic, Happiness-Based Culture

Heaven in a Postmodern, Anxiety-Ridden, Entertainment-Oriented, Therapeutic, Happiness-Based Culture

Chapter:
(p.204) 10 Heaven in a Postmodern, Anxiety-Ridden, Entertainment-Oriented, Therapeutic, Happiness-Based Culture
Source:
Heaven in the American Imagination
Author(s):

Gary Scott Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.003.0011

During the new millennium, several major interrelated cultural trends helped shape American views of heaven and salvation. Especially significant were increased anxiety, the impact of the therapeutic worldview (which exalted self-fulfillment and personal happiness), the emergence of an entertainment culture (which stressed pleasure and amusement), concerns about the breakdown of the family and the impoverishment of personal relationships, and the growing acceptance of a postmodern, relativistic perspective of life. Influenced by these trends, many Americans in the years after 2000 portrayed paradise as a place of comfort, self-actualization, bliss, enriching entertainment, and robust fellowship. Most Americans publicly stated or implied that almost everyone, except the extremely wicked, would go to heaven. Privately, Americans were much more divided. Almost identical numbers of Americans maintained that belief is the key to being admitted to heaven as said that conduct is the principal determinant.

Keywords:   heaven, therapeutic worldview, entertainment culture, relativism, self-actualization, belief, conduct

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