Sunday, August 4, 2019

A civil religion.................

But Williamson has more in common with President Trump than she — and indeed many voters — might admit, and it’s not just that both have used personal celebrity as a springboard into politics. At their core, both are also prime representatives of one of the most important and formative spiritual trends in American life: the notion that we can transform our material circumstances through faith in our personal willpower. Trump’s authoritarian cult of personality and Williamson’s woo-inflected belief in the power of “self-actualization” both come from the quintessentially American conviction that the quickest and surest route to Ultimate Reality can be found within ourselves. . . . 

On the surface, Americans are more religiously divided than ever. White evangelicals overwhelmingly support Trump; meanwhile, the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated, who tend to lean left, continue to grow. But many Americans of almost every political and spiritual affiliation share the inheritance of New Thought ideology: a distrust of institutions and experts, a reliance on personal intuition and feeling, and a conviction that “self-actualization” will lead inexorably to a bigger house, a better job, a banging body.
While it’s highly unlikely that Williamson will win the Democratic presidential nomination, her presence on the campaign trail, and Trump’s presence in the White House, serve as reminders that the ethos of Quimby and Peale thrives on both sides of the political aisle.
It may not be the “oneness” Williamson has in mind. But it’s the closest thing we have to a civil religion.
-Tara Isabella Burton, as cut and pasted from here.   Read the whole thing.


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