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The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty [Hardcover]

By David G. Myers (Author)
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Item Number 159468  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   384
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.55" Width: 6.47" Height: 1.35"
Weight:   1.69 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 1, 2000
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300081111  
EAN  9780300081114  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Outline ReviewIn response to Ronald Reagan's famous question, "Are we better off than we were 40 years ago?" The answer would have to be "materially yes, morally no," writes social psychologist David Myers. "Therein lies the American paradox," he continues. "We now have, as average Americans, doubled real incomes and double what money buys. We have espresso coffee, the World Wide Web, sport utility vehicles, and caller ID. And we have less happiness, more depression, more fragile relationships, less communal contentment, less vocational security, more crime (even after the recent decline), and more demoralized children."

Myers shuns the label of conservative or liberal, preferring to see himself as a social ecologist who abhors the dominance of material values. In fact, Myers is a visionary who asks important questions, such as why is marriage so difficult to maintain in our culture? Why are so many fathers abandoning families? Are rich people happier than poor people? What is the price we pay for radical individualism? He answers these questions with persuasive statistics and sound advice that cannot be neatly pigeonholed into one political camp or the other. As a result, this is a author with credibility, as he covers crucial chapters such as "The Past and Future of Marriage," "Money and Misery," "Educating for a Moral Compass," and "America's Children." --Gail Hudson

Product Description
Never has our country been so materially well off and yet, at the same time, so spiritually impoverished. Despite our material wealth, there are record rates of depression, a divorce rate that continues to hover around fifty percent, an ever-increasing number of children in poverty, and a media that glorifies violence. THE AMERICAN PARADOX is a big-picture synopsis of the 1960 to 1990's "social recession." Other books have focused on specific social shifts during this time period-the sexual revolution, the decline of marriage and father care, children's changing well-being, violence trends, materialism, individualism, media influences, character education, and faith-but no one has brought together ALL the research data on these changes and provided an in-depth analysis that uncovers the causal relationships among these large-scale social changes. THE AMERICAN PARADOX accomplishes this synthesis and analysis of the data in a style that is accessible and thought-provoking. Not only does Myers analyze the research, but he also points the way to a social renewal by arguing persuasively for the kinds of changes that individuals and institutions can make to eliminate the spiritual hunger felt by so many in America today.

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More About David G. Myers

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David G. Myers is a communicator of psychological science to college students and the general public. His writings, supported by National Science Foundation fellowships and grants and recognized by the Gordon Allport Prize, have appeared in three dozen scientific periodicals, from Science to Psychological Science, and in dozens of magazines and newspapers. His seventeen books include best-selling texts and general audience books on happiness, intuition, and hearing loss.

David G. Myers was born in 1949 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Hope College.

David G. Myers has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Spectrum Multiview Books

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
What is missing?  May 22, 2008
Over all a good book, but what happened to religion? Author leaves it out as a factor, which is strange given the title of this volume includes "spiritual hunger" in it.
A thousand facts and observations about U.S. society  Feb 23, 2008
This book is clear and accessible despite its scholarly underpinnings. In fact, it almost reads like a 300-page magazine article because it holds your interest so well. It's tightly compartmentalized and jammed with quotations, numbers, case studies, and bulleted lists. Read this book and you'll walk away with the naked facts about why the social fabric of U.S. society has got some big holes. Poverty, violence, fatherless homes, and zealous individualism are chewing away at our society while our economic standard of living rises. Myers tends to observe and describe rather than preach and prescribe, and he documents his facts with dazzling detail and clarity. The most interesting part of the book was his discussion about individualism vs. communitarianism and the consequences of radical individualism. The book does seems disproportionately skewed toward the current negatives of U.S. society with less discussion of our spiritual hunger, as the title suggests, but Myers does weave in some observations about the role of faith and its benefits (greater happiness, better health). Thankfully he completely omits all debate on whether religion is true. He simply observes it as a given and gently suggests that spiritual communities may not be so bad after all, especially in America's current "age of plenty."
Excellent read  Jul 19, 2006
I loved reading this book. There is so much useful information here on the fundamental shift in American culture toward individualism and away from social rules. Dr. Myers is also an amazing and engaging writer (there is a reason his textbooks are bestsellers). By the end of the book you will have a much better understanding of the paradox of the title: Why do we seem to have so much more, yet are not any happier? Dr. Myers has done a lot of research on happiness, and he shows how the things we now value (money) will not bring us as much happiness as the things we perhaps should value (marriage, children) and which have suffered in the last few decades.

If you teach, you could make a great class (freshman writing seminar, or upper-level discussion class) on American culture with this book and other books on this intriguing topic like The Great Disruption, Bowling Alone, and Generation Me.
The New American Dream  Jul 31, 2000
To hold David G. Myers book "The American Paradox" in your hands, is truly to be holding the solution to America's problems. This is perhaps the most enlightening book you will ever read in this decade. The sheer fortitude that it took to sort through the facts and figures between the 1960's and 1990's and come to these brilliant conclusions is nothing short of extraordinary.

Never has there been a more appropriate time to analyze our culture. This is a time of true spiritual hunger. If you want the reality of the situation you will find it here. Both self-described liberals and self-described conservatives will agree: There is no avoiding this deluge of facts. Perhaps now we can all have a common goal.

"The American Paradox" offers a sober appraisal of this present predicament and (finally!) gives a vision of hope for the future. We soon learn that the problems are many:

1. The divorce rate has doubled and women and children are impacted the most. 2. The teen suicide rate has tripled. 3. Marriages may start with euphoria, but many end in separation, anguish and divorce. 4. Most cohabitations break up before marriage. 5. Material wealth is at record levels, yet happiness has diminished. 6. We have replaced communal activities with TV and Web surfing. 7. We have placed a lower value on self-sacrifice, sexual restraint and moral obligation. 8. We have educated our children, while overlooking the need to teach them character. 9. The media gives false images of reality, which in turn have affected our children's thoughts and actions. 10. The pursuit of pleasure may in fact be amplifying misery.

We are also reminded that Gandhi once said that seven social sins could destroy a nation. I have the feeling we have committed far more. It seems we need to embrace principles which will enable us to realize "The New American Dream." This is a dream in which we encourage marriage, initiative, basic liberties, close relationships, empathy, self-discipline, character development, civility, fidelity, spiritual awareness, love for our fellow man, and a shared commitment to moral truth.

David Myers has set out the intellectual facts and figures with insight and fairness. There are no sides to take, but rather you will experience a feeling of enlightenment, hope and a new sense of determination. To me it is clear that we need to reexamine our social policies, make the media more responsible, and decide to change ourselves. Above all, we should protect our freedom by becoming personally responsible and making our marriages and families the top priorities in our lives. It is really up to us to decide our future. Often prevention is easier than the cure. Building character takes time and effort, but the rewards are immense.

Finally, I found a book my husband and I could read and discuss at length. What he said to me made perfect sense. When he plays softball everyone on the team has individual responsibilities yet they work as a collective whole to win the game. To me collectivism to its extreme is the political principle of centralized social and economic control, especially of all means of production. Individualism to its extreme is the belief that all actions are determined by, or at least take place for, the benefit of the individual, not of society as a whole. Individualism to its extreme could be said to be anarchy (a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society).

In my opinion, we need a basic set of rules to follow so we can respect one another. If we do not strike out as individuals we would simply be robots waiting for instructions. Clearly, there has to be a balance between personal responsibility and the responsibility we have to others. If we were all doing the job we were sent here to earth to do would not this world be a beautiful peaceful place? It is a delicate balance and somehow we have tipped the scale in the wrong direction. David's book tells us what has tipped this scale and takes us through a brilliant thought process to offer the solutions.

Pope John Paul III said it with wisdom: "To educate without a value system based on truth is to abandon young people to moral confusion, personal insecurity, and easy manipulation. No country, not even the most powerful, can endure if it deprives its own children of this essential good."

We must teach our children to read, to comprehend truth and to analyze what they are being told. Teach your children to think about issues which surround them now and in the future when they grow up they will thank you for it. I cannot thank my own parents enough for giving me security in my own beliefs and for giving me a head start in reading at a very young age. It is abundantly clear to me that America's parents will determine the future of our country. David G. Myers has built upon this thought, which I know many have wanted to voice but did not have a platform. I quote from his book:

"We cannot expect our schools alone to restore the moral infrastructure. Character is nurtured by families and supportive neighbors, churches, kin, and child-friendly media."

This vital guide will illuminate the dark path we are on. Hopefully, we will see the fork in the road and take the path to "The New American Dream."

~The Rebecca Review
Made me mad - no star  Jul 6, 2000
This book just made me mad. Myers rounds up all of the usual suspects: divorce, pornography, the media, out of wedlock children, and tells us that our permissive, rights-oriented society is to blame. He hops on the Communitarian bandwagon without critical analysis of how one compels community and whether it would be worth the price.

For example, he suggests, without a hint of analysis, that the 14th Amendment, rights of due process and equal protection, should trump First Amendment free speech. He hasn't a clue about how complex this argument is or where it would lead. Professor Myers claims impartiality as a "social scientist" when, in fact, the book skews the research to prove his point. Unfortunately, his "point" (our society is in the toilet - big surprise) doesn't lead anywhere.


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