Several decades ago, in The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Philip Rieff contended that, in the West, the religious worldview that was concerned with personal salvation in God had been eclipsed by the therapeutic culture. The primary goal of this new, dominant culture is for the individual to feel good because there is “nothing at stake beyond a manipulatable sense of well-being.” In the decades that have followed, Rieff’s thesis has been confirmed over and over.
For example, in 2005, Notre Dame sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton provided an illuminating window into the spiritual and religious lives of American teenagers with their book Soul Searching. Smith and Denton coined the term “Moral Therapeutic Deism” to describe the dominant religion of American teenagers. God’s role, for them, is not to bring about one’s redemption and sanctification, but instead, like a Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist, to make one “feel good and happy about oneself and one’s life.”
Today’s Woke mob have become the poster children for such narcissism. Ivy League professors Glen Loury and John McWhorter, who both happen to be black, recently pontificated on what they call “the warm cloak of victimhood.” They refer mostly to certain people of color who ascribe to themselves a dignity and nobility as “victims” when their diminished socio-economic status is more attributable to bad decisions they have made (e.g., dropping out of high school, out-of-wedlock births) rather than systemic racism.