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How manifesting was corrupted The TikTok trend is rooted in Fifties evangelicalism

Be more Lizzo? (John Shearer/Getty Images)

Be more Lizzo? (John Shearer/Getty Images)


December 5, 2022   7 mins

Mindlessly scrolling through football transfer rumours on Twitter recently, I noticed some Liverpool fans trying something a little different. The club’s owners weren’t doing the business they wanted, so it was time, one fan suggested, to gather their mental forces and “manifest” a new midfielder. This wasn’t a joke, or a meme: if everyone could just come together and visualise it hard enough, Liverpool’s billionaire owners would stump up £150 million for Jude Bellingham.

Their belief that their imaginations, combined with good vibes, could change another human being’s life channelled Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 self-help classic, The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living. Peale was a Protestant clergyman, but his ideas have had an influence far beyond the American Church. The book has inspired not only football fans, but also prosperity preachers, presidents, new age spiritualists, celebrities and, now, TikTok influencers. Key religious texts aside, Peale’s guide, which has just celebrated its 70th anniversary, is arguably the most influential book in the world today.

Peale’s philosophy is a direct descendant of the 19th-century New Thought movement, promoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson and other thinkers of his day, which held that a healthy mind led to a healthy body and spirit. His “system of creative living based on spiritual techniques” was an instant success, thanks to his simple formula of prayerise, picturise, actualise. According to Peale, the “spiritual energy” of mind-power is on par with the science of atomic energy, and his simple three-step technique ensures that readers won’t be “defeated by anything”.

Peale knew his audience. Preaching out of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, he spoke to a 4,000-strong congregation filled with successful, business-minded types, including a young Donald Trump, whose tyrannical father Fred lapped up the belief that a winner’s mindset could achieve anything. “It is appalling to realise the number of pathetic people,” Peale writes in prose that sounds jarring today, “who are hampered and made miserable by the malady popularly called the inferiority complex.”

Trump became a life-long advocate of the so-called “law of attraction”, which Peale summarises: “When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you.” Speaking of his time in Peale’s church in 2015, Trump said that the pastor, who presided over his first marriage, would “bring real-life situations” to his sermons, and that “when you left the church, you were disappointed that it was over”.

Peale’s preaching may have been exceptional, but it was also representative of a fundamental shift in American theology. Positive Thinking was the final stop on American Protestantism’s journey away from Calvinism, the austere form of Protestantism that promoted the idea that we’re all degenerates and only God can determine who will be saved. As Europe and Asia smouldered, in the Fifties it felt like America’s time had come; there was no appetite for negativity, even in church. A new band of evangelical leaders began taking a greater role in mainstream American life, equally encouraged by the spirit of the times and fearing the spread of communism to their shores.

The Pentecostal movement, a branch of evangelicalism that was particularly strong among the working classes in the South and Midwest, had already experienced a theological revolution with the Latter Rain movement in 1946. Instead of tarrying, or waiting for the blessings of the Holy Spirit to fall upon them, they decided that they could receive God’s gifts on demand. “Ask and ye shall receive” was a mantra that encouraged a wave of faith healing — a practice that has an awful lot in common with manifesting.

More radical shifts were to come. In the Fifties, preachers such as Oral Roberts began to popularise the prosperity gospel: the idea that God rewards you for giving money to your church and pastor. In “seeding” these donations, followers plant an act of faith that then grows a material harvest.

This idea thrived in large part thanks to the highly respectable Peale presenting them in a wholesome package. Kate Bowler, author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, calls Peale the “principal prophet of this generation” — one who transformed “abstract theology into workable wisdom”. With a syndicated newspaper column that attracted 10 million readers, and radio and television programmes that stayed on-air for decades, his message was broadcast across the nation. The Power of Positive Thinking stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for three record-breaking years, selling a million copies.

Bowler believes that Peale’s “synthesis of upward mobility with religious buoyancy matched the postwar mood, turning a man into a movement”. An energetic new generation of evangelists, such as Kenneth Hagin and Reverend Ike, heard the call. They, too, used new media such as syndicated radio to take this relatable, optimistic form of Christianity to the masses.

According to prosperity preachers, God cared about the size of your pay packet at the end of the week. Christ was actually wealthy, they claimed. A donkey was the equivalent of a Cadillac back then; Baby Jesus was famously bestowed with gifts; His guards at the crucifixion were a sign if his high status.

While only the boldest evangelists in America, such as Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar, continue with this line of preaching today, the prosperity gospel has real currency elsewhere. Neocharismatic Pentecostalism’s rapid expansion in Asia, Africa and Latin America is thanks in large part to the promises it makes, of health and wealth. In the slums of Sao Paulo and Lagos, the idea of one day reaping the rewards of giving a little money and having a lot of faith is the only opportunity to succeed that most people can imagine.

And, just as there are some health benefits to seeing the glass half full, there’s a growing body of evidence that adherence to the prosperity gospel sees an uplift in people’s circumstances. Research in Latin America has found that people who have experienced poverty, violence and addiction have a greater chance of escaping those cycles by joining an evangelical church. In Brazil, researchers found that when the GDP goes down, attendance at evangelical churches increases, and that the support networks available at those churches further support a politics that says people should seek a hand up, and not a hand out.

Of course, this phenomenon is far from limited to the faithful poor. In the United States alone, the self-help industry rakes in around $10 billion annually, with Peale’s work something of a Rosetta Stone for a field that relies on good vibes. But it was Australian television producer Rhonda Byrne who reintroduced The Power of Positive Thinking to a new, global audience in 2006 with her film and book, The Secret. Though Byrne claimed inspiration from Wallace Wattles’s 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich, “the secret”, we find out, is a familiar three-step solution: “ask, believe, receive”. A sexier version of Peale’s prayerise, picturise, actualise, in other words, and more than an echo of Matthew 21:22: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

The secret also employed Trump’s favoured “law of attraction”, whereby positive thoughts attract positive things — in Byrne’s case, that included selling more than 35 million copies worldwide, endorsements by Oprah Winfrey, and a reported $300 million fortune. She also has the honour of being the person who introduced the concept of “manifesting” thoughts into things to a mainstream audience. In one chapter on the body, Byrne writes that “it is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight”.

Whereas most of Peale’s case studies were about people gaining confidence and finding success in life, Byrnes’ focus appears to be much more centred on realising material goods, like better cars and houses, or more money — reframing self-help for a new audience who had come increasingly to define themselves as consumers. Now, you didn’t even need biblical justification, or New Thought virtues. You could simply “ask, believe, receive”.

A toddler can prod the premise with a stick and see it fall apart. What if everyone who buys a lotto ticket imagines themselves winning it and says a prayer? Has no one who has died from cancer ever sincerely wished it away? But Byrne, who says that “the secret” has been understood by everyone from Buddhist monks to Shakespeare and Einstein, was, much like Peale, the right person at the right moment.

A “spiritual but not religious” type in a secularising world, her suspicion that elites were hiding this great truth from ordinary people appeared to be prophetic. Byrne came to prominence shortly before the 2008 financial collapse, which destroyed Americans’ faith in something that had been a fundamental: the idea of an ever-growing housing market. Many turned to Byrne’s renegade optimism as a result.

It should come as little surprise, then, that the next great global shock saw a resurgence in “manifesting”. In March 2020, as the pandemic locked most of us in our homes, videos about “369 manifesting” began appearing on TikTok, amassing hundreds of millions of views. The idea here is that people need simply write down what they’d like to manifest three times in the morning, six times during the day, and nine times at night. Pop star Lizzo is one of many celebrities who preaches the benefits of thinking your way to success; she told one interviewer that “you can manifest your life and speak things into existence, if you have positive goals and affirmations for yourself”.

TikTok manifesting has launched a variety of new techniques, including “wouldn’t it be nice” and ”the law of assumption”, which provide new ways to ruminate on getting what you want. The practice appears equally popular with men and women alike, with not only Lizzo but also hopeful Liverpool fans and manosphere influencers such as Andrew Tate getting on board. For young people who feel cheated out of two important years of their lives, and conventional job and housing opportunities looking evermore slim, the resurgence in positive thinking is easy to understand. Having the right mindset might be the only thing they feel they have control over.

And crucially, the practice is flexible. You can call it positive thinking, the secret, or manifesting. It can be spiritual or religious, or dressed up as pop psychology. A variety of activities can fall into its remit, including journalling and vision boarding, and there is a wealth of new manifestation practitioners offering podcasts, coaching and online courses — almost always cutely priced at numbers like $2,222, given that manifesting and numerology seem to go hand-in-hand.

That manifesting has taken a turn for the capitalist is telling. The enduring influence of The Power of Positive Thinking points to an essential human trait: we seem hard-wired for magical thinking. But it also reveals something far grimmer. The closest that we can come now to divining the will of God, or the energy of the universe, is by noticing who gets what they want. And the closest we come to practising devotion is to imagine getting it.

***

Order your copy of UnHerd’s first print edition here. 


Elle Hardy is a freelance journalist who’s reported from North Korea and the former Soviet Union. She is the author of Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity Is Taking Over the World.

ellehardy

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Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

I look forward to the “Mbappe is an Englishman” service at Liverpool cathedral.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

I look forward to the “Mbappe is an Englishman” service at Liverpool cathedral.

tony zuccarino
tony zuccarino
1 year ago

I would offer one explanation as to why deliberate positive thinkers might more often do better than their cynical colleagues, is that who would you rather have on your team, as manager or leader? Positive Peter or negative Nancy, most everything else being equal (training, motivation, etc)? Maybe the positive folks tend to get a little uplift through life due to a bias by surrounding people towards positivity.

tony zuccarino
tony zuccarino
1 year ago

I would offer one explanation as to why deliberate positive thinkers might more often do better than their cynical colleagues, is that who would you rather have on your team, as manager or leader? Positive Peter or negative Nancy, most everything else being equal (training, motivation, etc)? Maybe the positive folks tend to get a little uplift through life due to a bias by surrounding people towards positivity.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

“Research in Latin America has found that people who have experienced poverty, violence and addiction have a greater chance of escaping those cycles by joining an evangelical church.”
Reading this made me think of the old Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, who wrote “Everything is as thinking makes it so…”.  

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

Stoic philosophy is better than the nonsense described in the article.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

Stoic philosophy is better than the nonsense described in the article.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

“Research in Latin America has found that people who have experienced poverty, violence and addiction have a greater chance of escaping those cycles by joining an evangelical church.”
Reading this made me think of the old Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, who wrote “Everything is as thinking makes it so…”.  

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago

Interesting – this is of course what happens when you take out balance/reality and just hear what you want to hear. Undoubtedly “positive thinking” helps in life – for example those who remain positive during a serious illness are more likely to survive, however, obviously, no amount of positive thinking will allow you to fly if you jump off a tall building.
As an aside, if you think you are spiritual you are religious- maybe not necessarily religious in the the way you think of perceived conventional religion but religious nonetheless.
Interesting – this is of course what happens when you take out balance/reality and just hear what you want to hear. Undoubtedly “positive thinking” helps in life – for example those who remain positive during a serious illness are more likely to survive however, obviously, no amount of positive thinking will allow you to fly if you jump off a tall building.
As an aside, if you think you are spiritual you are religious- maybe not necessarily religious in the the way you think of perceived conventional religion but religious nonetheless.

Last edited 1 year ago by Isabel Ward
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

if you think you are spiritual you are religious”
That could be turned on its head, i.e. if you’re religious, you’re actually spiritual but just directing your spirituality towards a particular frame of reference, usually (but not always) involving a god.
I fully agree with your point about positive thinking being helpful in life though. What i find interesting is the phenomenon of “imposter syndrome”, whereby someone who’s achieved a degree of success finds themselves feeling unworthy of it. The obverse is, i suppose, narcissism.

paul youlten
paul youlten
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Is there any scientific evidence that “positive thinking” helps people survive serious illnesses?
I thought Barbara Ehrenreich had debunked this myth years ago.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  paul youlten

Not sure why you forward a progressive political activist and journalist on this matter.
Anyway I have discussed this widely with doctors and they all agree it helps.
If that is too subjective for you try this from John Hopkins
“People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.”
There are many others just look.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

That’s an example of those with a positive outlook not contracting a disease in the first instance, not being more likely to survive one that’s already taken hold.
As stated before, i’m inclined to think positivity has no real downsides, within reason and that there is a mind-body link between positivity and good health, but is that simply because those with a positive outlook are more likely to take care of themselves with exercise and a good diet?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

That’s an example of those with a positive outlook not contracting a disease in the first instance, not being more likely to survive one that’s already taken hold.
As stated before, i’m inclined to think positivity has no real downsides, within reason and that there is a mind-body link between positivity and good health, but is that simply because those with a positive outlook are more likely to take care of themselves with exercise and a good diet?

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  paul youlten

Not sure why you forward a progressive political activist and journalist on this matter.
Anyway I have discussed this widely with doctors and they all agree it helps.
If that is too subjective for you try this from John Hopkins
“People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.”
There are many others just look.

Richard Hart
Richard Hart
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Studies in the 80s showed no difference in cancer survival rates depending on positive mood.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Isn’t religion is composed of theology, morality and liturgy?

So spirituality is not religion.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

if you think you are spiritual you are religious”
That could be turned on its head, i.e. if you’re religious, you’re actually spiritual but just directing your spirituality towards a particular frame of reference, usually (but not always) involving a god.
I fully agree with your point about positive thinking being helpful in life though. What i find interesting is the phenomenon of “imposter syndrome”, whereby someone who’s achieved a degree of success finds themselves feeling unworthy of it. The obverse is, i suppose, narcissism.

paul youlten
paul youlten
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Is there any scientific evidence that “positive thinking” helps people survive serious illnesses?
I thought Barbara Ehrenreich had debunked this myth years ago.

Richard Hart
Richard Hart
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Studies in the 80s showed no difference in cancer survival rates depending on positive mood.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Isn’t religion is composed of theology, morality and liturgy?

So spirituality is not religion.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago

Interesting – this is of course what happens when you take out balance/reality and just hear what you want to hear. Undoubtedly “positive thinking” helps in life – for example those who remain positive during a serious illness are more likely to survive, however, obviously, no amount of positive thinking will allow you to fly if you jump off a tall building.
As an aside, if you think you are spiritual you are religious- maybe not necessarily religious in the the way you think of perceived conventional religion but religious nonetheless.
Interesting – this is of course what happens when you take out balance/reality and just hear what you want to hear. Undoubtedly “positive thinking” helps in life – for example those who remain positive during a serious illness are more likely to survive however, obviously, no amount of positive thinking will allow you to fly if you jump off a tall building.
As an aside, if you think you are spiritual you are religious- maybe not necessarily religious in the the way you think of perceived conventional religion but religious nonetheless.

Last edited 1 year ago by Isabel Ward
Vince B
Vince B
1 year ago

Manifesting may be over-sold, but the idea that mindset is critical to one’s happiness – or lack of – seems utterly noncontroversial. The grouch who wakes up determined to be miserable will find all sorts of reasons to be miserable. On the other hand, the person who determines to be happy will be happy, often in spite of the humdrum of daily life.

Vince B
Vince B
1 year ago

Manifesting may be over-sold, but the idea that mindset is critical to one’s happiness – or lack of – seems utterly noncontroversial. The grouch who wakes up determined to be miserable will find all sorts of reasons to be miserable. On the other hand, the person who determines to be happy will be happy, often in spite of the humdrum of daily life.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

Good article. Evangelicalism has a long history in this country, going back to the first and second “Great Awakenings.” Ironically two of the most famous evangelicals to have held millions of Americans spellbound–George Whitfield and Aimee Semple MacPherson–weren’t even American. And though he wasn’t strictly speaking an evangelical, you can add a third –Bishop Fulton J, Sheen, the first “televangelist.” Like Billy Graham, they knew how to hold a crowd in their hands.
And as we have seen, “magical thinking” is hardly limited to religion.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

As Liz Trust found out !!!

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

As Liz Trust found out !!!

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

Good article. Evangelicalism has a long history in this country, going back to the first and second “Great Awakenings.” Ironically two of the most famous evangelicals to have held millions of Americans spellbound–George Whitfield and Aimee Semple MacPherson–weren’t even American. And though he wasn’t strictly speaking an evangelical, you can add a third –Bishop Fulton J, Sheen, the first “televangelist.” Like Billy Graham, they knew how to hold a crowd in their hands.
And as we have seen, “magical thinking” is hardly limited to religion.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

‘Manifesting’ is, at best, a crude attempt to understand a fundamental psychological process – will-to-meaning (at worst, it’s a conman’s pitch). A baby is clear in its mind that it wants to learn language, grow, walk, recognise faces. It does not consciously know of these things, but hey-ho, as if by magic, a few years pass and these goals have manifested – like wow dude! Set it a task and the mind will beaver away to get that done, scanning for opportunities, motivating us to do stuff that will likely lead to where we want to go, crunching the numbers; we’re only be conscious of a tiny part of that, and so it appears magical.

blacklimelight
blacklimelight
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Agreed, although the ‘tiny part’ of which we’re ever appraised is likely to be the whole. All else is the machination of others – ostensibly for our benefit.

Last edited 1 year ago by blacklimelight
blacklimelight
blacklimelight
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Agreed, although the ‘tiny part’ of which we’re ever appraised is likely to be the whole. All else is the machination of others – ostensibly for our benefit.

Last edited 1 year ago by blacklimelight
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

‘Manifesting’ is, at best, a crude attempt to understand a fundamental psychological process – will-to-meaning (at worst, it’s a conman’s pitch). A baby is clear in its mind that it wants to learn language, grow, walk, recognise faces. It does not consciously know of these things, but hey-ho, as if by magic, a few years pass and these goals have manifested – like wow dude! Set it a task and the mind will beaver away to get that done, scanning for opportunities, motivating us to do stuff that will likely lead to where we want to go, crunching the numbers; we’re only be conscious of a tiny part of that, and so it appears magical.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

I was born into a saner world.
Faint praise, I know.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

I was born into a saner world.
Faint praise, I know.

Sue Frisby
Sue Frisby
1 year ago

I understand your scepticism, Elle. It’s not good to hear about people getting taken advantage of by charlatans. However, the essence of this does work. The original law of attraction information gives people a way in which they can have more control over how they experience their lives. We can’t control what others do but we can learn to attract to ourselves more of what it is we want.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Frisby

Eh ? Really ? The nonsense covered in the article is very different to things like CBT or Stoic philosophy that help people understand what is and is out of their control…”We can’t control what others do…” !

Sue Frisby
Sue Frisby
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

CBT and Stoic philosophy can be really helpful, I agree.
The original law of attraction material differs to the examples in this article as it encourages people to take responsibility for themselves and what they create in their lives, and shows them how to work with the power of positive thinking.

Sue Frisby
Sue Frisby
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

CBT and Stoic philosophy can be really helpful, I agree.
The original law of attraction material differs to the examples in this article as it encourages people to take responsibility for themselves and what they create in their lives, and shows them how to work with the power of positive thinking.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Frisby

Eh ? Really ? The nonsense covered in the article is very different to things like CBT or Stoic philosophy that help people understand what is and is out of their control…”We can’t control what others do…” !

Sue Frisby
Sue Frisby
1 year ago

I understand your scepticism, Elle. It’s not good to hear about people getting taken advantage of by charlatans. However, the essence of this does work. The original law of attraction information gives people a way in which they can have more control over how they experience their lives. We can’t control what others do but we can learn to attract to ourselves more of what it is we want.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
1 year ago

Positive Thinking was the final stop on American Protestantism’s journey away from Calvinism” — not quite true, the journey continues even now as wokesters in the Protestant church assail the last vestiges of tradition in the old mainline congregations.

blacklimelight
blacklimelight
1 year ago

Don’t be silly. Despite the dubious choice of intoductory image, this cannot be attributed to your lazily employed ‘wokeist’ bugbear. It’s more Catholic/Latin American, in my experience – and there exist very many exclusively white, exclusively middle class ‘christian’ subsects throughout the Home Counties, for whom the unaccountable practice of ‘tithing’ is the funding principle. A scam is a scam is a scam – at least Black communities had a valid justification for seeking a more just and equitable life than that offered by Western racism.

blacklimelight
blacklimelight
1 year ago

Don’t be silly. Despite the dubious choice of intoductory image, this cannot be attributed to your lazily employed ‘wokeist’ bugbear. It’s more Catholic/Latin American, in my experience – and there exist very many exclusively white, exclusively middle class ‘christian’ subsects throughout the Home Counties, for whom the unaccountable practice of ‘tithing’ is the funding principle. A scam is a scam is a scam – at least Black communities had a valid justification for seeking a more just and equitable life than that offered by Western racism.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
1 year ago

Positive Thinking was the final stop on American Protestantism’s journey away from Calvinism” — not quite true, the journey continues even now as wokesters in the Protestant church assail the last vestiges of tradition in the old mainline congregations.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

The fact that Trump is a devotee indicates that it’s all a scam, a grift, designed to extract money from the gullible.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

It’s more than that. It directs American thinking at a very fundamental level. Since living here, I’ve noticed that it is perfectly normal for Americans to live well above their means – not just the poor, but the affluent middle-classes too. Very often you will see families with parents working almost every hour in the day to maintain a four bedroom house, three kids, a dog, and two cars. At the same time, they will also be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The prosperity gospel has transcended its evangelical roots and transposed itself on to every facet of American society.
I think the thought process here is that if you don’t appear to possess the trappings of a rich person, you will never become a rich person. Of course, thinking like this is what keeps everyone very poor. Then again, I’ve never been in any other country where people work as hard as Americans. I do wonder if that is the reason many of them seem very miserable and need to be emotionally stabilized via medication.

Last edited 1 year ago by Julian Farrows
Kenda Grant
Kenda Grant
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well said! It’s also reflects the idea that everyone now defines themselves as a consumer. You need to show everyone all the trappings if you are to be a successful consumer.

Kenda Grant
Kenda Grant
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well said! It’s also reflects the idea that everyone now defines themselves as a consumer. You need to show everyone all the trappings if you are to be a successful consumer.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Poor John.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

It’s more than that. It directs American thinking at a very fundamental level. Since living here, I’ve noticed that it is perfectly normal for Americans to live well above their means – not just the poor, but the affluent middle-classes too. Very often you will see families with parents working almost every hour in the day to maintain a four bedroom house, three kids, a dog, and two cars. At the same time, they will also be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The prosperity gospel has transcended its evangelical roots and transposed itself on to every facet of American society.
I think the thought process here is that if you don’t appear to possess the trappings of a rich person, you will never become a rich person. Of course, thinking like this is what keeps everyone very poor. Then again, I’ve never been in any other country where people work as hard as Americans. I do wonder if that is the reason many of them seem very miserable and need to be emotionally stabilized via medication.

Last edited 1 year ago by Julian Farrows
Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Poor John.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

The fact that Trump is a devotee indicates that it’s all a scam, a grift, designed to extract money from the gullible.

James Gordon
James Gordon
1 year ago

The fondest wish of nearly every human being is to get something for nothing. Or nearly nothing — like, for example, saying a prayer or thinking a thought. The human tendency to see patterns and connections where none actually exist makes it seem plausible that prayer and thinking alone can actually get you something for nearly nothing.
Humans. Ugh.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  James Gordon

Though, to be fair, most people grow up, and work hard just to get by. Then there are many, as per Steve Murray comment, who have imposter syndrome – they are really quite successful, have achieved a lot, and yet are plagued by doubts….and the opposite are the narcissists. Those who, like Trump, think the world of themselves, and yet have actually achieved nothing of real value. We live in an age of narcissism, and manifesting is just one expression of that.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  James Gordon

Yes, that is human nature–in a word, fallen.

For the faithful, prayer is, among other things, the remedy to the attitude of “wanting something for nothing.”

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  James Gordon

Though, to be fair, most people grow up, and work hard just to get by. Then there are many, as per Steve Murray comment, who have imposter syndrome – they are really quite successful, have achieved a lot, and yet are plagued by doubts….and the opposite are the narcissists. Those who, like Trump, think the world of themselves, and yet have actually achieved nothing of real value. We live in an age of narcissism, and manifesting is just one expression of that.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  James Gordon

Yes, that is human nature–in a word, fallen.

For the faithful, prayer is, among other things, the remedy to the attitude of “wanting something for nothing.”

James Gordon
James Gordon
1 year ago

The fondest wish of nearly every human being is to get something for nothing. Or nearly nothing — like, for example, saying a prayer or thinking a thought. The human tendency to see patterns and connections where none actually exist makes it seem plausible that prayer and thinking alone can actually get you something for nearly nothing.
Humans. Ugh.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago

Magical thinking lives on, when people are desperate……and easier than reading a book on economics……

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

We get it Graeme, you’re terribly smart.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

We get it Graeme, you’re terribly smart.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 year ago

Magical thinking lives on, when people are desperate……and easier than reading a book on economics……

Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

Makes m want to spew.

Last edited 1 year ago by Max Price
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

I’m curious to know the relevance of the photo at the top of this article to its subject?