Download Something for Nothing: Luck in America by Jackson Lears PDF

By Jackson Lears

Jackson Lears has received accolades for his ability in picking the wealthy and unforeseen layers of which means underneath the time-honored and mundane in our lives. Now, he demanding situations the normal knowledge that the Protestant ethic of perseverance, undefined, and disciplined success is what made the US nice. Turning to the deep, seldom said reverence for good fortune that runs via our complete background from colonial occasions to the early twenty-first century, Lears strains how success, probability, and playing have formed and, every now and then, outlined our nationwide personality.

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Sample text

My point is not to resurrect the mistaken evolutionary equation between children and “savages,” but to suggest that the impulse to create sacred bundles can take a variety of cultural forms. It is not merely a feature of remote tribal life. Consider the gentleman’s cup and dice, which became a standard accoutrement of aristocracy in Europe African divination gourd and power figure, 20th century. and North America during the eighteenth century. Like every toss of the diviner’s gourd, every roll of the dice created a new configuration of meanings, depending on the rules of the game.

The idea that God was revealing himself continuously, the basis for the survival of magic in the Church, began to give way to a notion of discontinuous revelation—the belief that God had revealed himself in the Bible, once and for all. If that were true, then divination was pointless at best, demonic at worst. The problem with this summary is not that it is fundamentally wrong. 22 The problem is that the emphasis on the decline of t h e dan c e o f d i v i nat i o n 35 magic takes the Puritan mind as somehow typical of early modern thought.

As monotheists, they distrusted intermediaries and emphasized direct revelation; Yahweh alone was the source of spiritual power. 8 Early Christians shared the Hebrew suspicion of magic and divination. Like the Jews, the Christians were concerned to emphasize God’s majesty, remoteness, and omnipotence. Dualistic divisions between matter and spirit, nature and the supernatural, flowed from that concern and rendered mana problematic. 9 In lieu of a principle of luck, embedded in the workings of the natural order, Christians embraced a transcendent Providence.

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