is a vast chasm today between the once-potent forces of
religion and faith on the one hand and the day-to-day
details of work life and personal finance on the other,
according to a new cultural critique.
In God and Mammon
, Princeton sociologist
Robert Wuthnow argues that this severed connection is
wreaking psychological havoc for millions of Americans
struggling to lead honorable financial lives but seeing
no clear signposts to guide them in matters of money.
core of Wuthnow's analysis is a survey of more than 2,000
working Americans on the relationship between spirituality
and such matters as career choice, workplace commitment,
consumerism and charity. The study reveals that Americans
are spiritually adrift when it comes to making decisions
in the realm of personal economics. Once stern and prescriptive
in worldly matters, religion has become nothing more than
a source of psychological uplifting, a tool of therapy
that buttresses individual choice and lets people feel
good about whatever code of conduct they choose. Consequently,
the faithful go about their lives "pretty much the same
as those who have no faith at all."
holds that religious leaders have taken the path of least
resistance in staying silent on the delicate issues of
workplace zealotry and material self-interest. He urges
voiceless American ministers to reclaim their traditional
responsibility for financial as well as spiritual guidance
to the flock.
from "The Coin and the Spirit" by Wray Herbert in
News & World Report,
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