The Secret of Success: The Link between American Prosperity Theology and Business Self-Help Literature

Dawn L. Hutchinson
Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA, USA

Series: American History, Culture and Literature
BISAC: HIS036000

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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This books links American prosperity literature and business self-help literature in an effort to uncover their connections to concepts of success in American culture. There were hundreds of books published in America between 1880-1920 on success strategies. These strategies followed a pattern that has been ingrained in the fabric of American ideas of success. This pattern entails visualizing a goal, expecting/believing that the goal can/will be achieved, declaring one’s intention to achieve the goal, taking the steps to achieve the goal, and finally, “realize”/achieve the goal. While the definitions of “success” vary, the general meaning has to do with setting goals and achieving them.

In this book, the author describes various threads of prosperity theology and demonstrates their connection to concepts of business success. The goal of this book is to show that while this literature began in religious contexts, including metaphysical and evangelical religions, the methods of achieving success became part of the fabric of American culture as a whole. Prosperity theology connects the visualization and declaration process with God and the individual’s relationship to God. Since business interests are intertwined with notions of success, much of American business literature echoes the methods originally begun with prosperity theology. This book is an attempt to map some of those trends and to demonstrate the complicated nature of their origins.
(Imprint: Nova)

Introduction

Chapter 1. Origin Issues for New Thought, Various Trajectories of Prosperity Models

Chapter 2. Defining Prosperity and Success

Chapter 3. The Quimby/Dresser Trajectory (Mind Cure)

Chapter 4. Hopkins/Fillmore Trajectory (New Thought)

Chapter 5. Finney/Cullis/Kenyon/Hagin Trajectory (Word-Faith)

Chapter 6. Historical links between Prosperity Gospel and Business Success Models

Chapter 7. Contemporary Word of Faith teachers and the “business” of Prosperity

Chapter 8. The Prevalence of Prosperity Theology in American Culture

Index

"The Prosperity Gospel movement, still in a growth phase, the most popular segment of the pervasive movement to motivate Americans out of their complacency to new levels of performance, accomplishment, and the a strong attachment to the ideal of making it to the top in every part of our life, has drawn frequent comment but rarely been analyzed in terms of its permeation of American thought since the founding of the republic. In The Secret of Success, Dawn Hutchinson has finally given us a broad picture of the prosperity consciousness movement, which can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin but really took off late in the 19th century and the popularization of a metaphysical movement that invited people to get in tune with the forces moving the universe forward and stake their claim to the wealth (and health) that the Almighty was ready to provide from the infinite storehouse of spiritual riches. The movement explained why neither formal education nor hard work was enough, one needed to grasp Truth, set one’s Mind in the right direction, inwardly align with God’s power, and allow the universal Spirit carry one forward almost like magic. While intellectual giants dominate elite culture, early popular writers like Ralph Waldo Trine, Charla Fillmore, and O. S. Marden shaped the imagination of late-19th century the popular culture to hope for not just a better life, but the best life possible. Their successors, right down to contemporary exponents like Tony Robbins, Creflo Dollar, and Rhonda Byrne have pushed to the front with the secret knowledge ever since. Hutchinson has done the reading public a great service by laying out where our hope for success even in the face of constant rebuttal has become so integral to the American way of life. A must read for those wishing to understand the American dream." - J. Gordon Melton, Distinguished Professor of American Religious History, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA

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