Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Gary Badcock



The American success industry comprises an $11 billion for-profit enterprise that is growing by almost six percent every year in the United States and Canada (and increasingly in other countries). Purveyors of success teachings claim that they teach methods by which anyone, with enough commitment and vision, can “have it all.” “Having it all” includes health, relationships, careers, and spirituality, but the bottom line for the success industry is almost always material wealth. This thesis argues that religious and theological memes characterize the modus operandi of the success industry, particularly themes derived from American Protestantism, in the form of Puritan theology and the history of revivalism in America. These undercurrent memes bypass critical filters, creating a distorted form of hidden theology of which many consumers of success events appear to be unaware. There is therefore a need for a countervailing response from the discipline of theology to add to the current discourse regarding the effects of the success industry and its role within a consumerist society.

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