Chapter

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

Gary Scott Smith

in Heaven in the American Imagination

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738953
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897346 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.003.0011
Heaven in a Postmodern, Anxiety-Ridden, Entertainment-Oriented, Therapeutic, Happiness-Based Culture

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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

Chapter.  10677 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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