This intriguing academic study challenges the heart of the much-touted "secularization thesis"-the idea that modern cultures will gradually abandon religion in favor of the rigors of scientific agnosticism. On the surface, deChant argues, it might seem that America's contemporary observance of Christmas fits the secularization thesis, since it has gone from being a Christian holy day to a commercial holiday. However, deChant argues that in American culture, commercialism itself is a viable religion. In fact, he says, Christmas is "perhaps the best example of religiosity in our culture." What is most startling about deChant's fascinating book is his contention that postmodern American consumerism closely resembles premodern religious worldviews, in which the "everyday world of commerce and consumerism" was "saturated with religious myth and ritual." Drawing on the work of 20th-century theorists such as Paul Tillich and Jacques Ellul, this revisionist study is sure to fan the flames of scholarly debate.
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