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Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion

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From Feng Shui to holistic medicine, from aromatherapy candles to yoga weekends, spirituality is big business. It promises to soothe away the angst of modern living and to offer an antidote to shallow materialism.

Selling Spirituality is a short, sharp, attack on this fallacy. It shows how spirituality has in fact become a powerful commodity in the global marketplace - a cultural addiction that reflects orthodox politics, curbs self-expression and colonizes Eastern beliefs.
Exposing how spirituality has today come to embody the privatization of religion in the modern West, Jeremy Carrette and Richard King reveal the people and brands who profit from this corporate hijack, and explore how spirituality can be reclaimed as a means of resistance to capitalism and its deceptions.

208 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2004

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Jeremy Carrette

16 books4 followers

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5 stars
24 (22%)
4 stars
35 (32%)
3 stars
32 (29%)
2 stars
8 (7%)
1 star
8 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Melanie.
723 reviews41 followers
September 1, 2016
The "grumpy" response to what the authors see as a problematic rainbows & unicorns (marketplace-driven, individualist) spirituality. Strengths: Identifies actual things happening in consumer-driven capitalist culture (how would one step out of Western consumer culture?) and makes a convincing case for how the "psychologization" of society contributes to this. Weaknesses: Doesn't focus on everyday people "doing" spirituality (agency of individuals), does focus a lot on "the man behind the curtain." Uses the word "mind-control" a lot.
Profile Image for Ihor Kolesnyk.
383 reviews
March 6, 2023
Усі сучасні "друзі Маркса" далі гнуть свою лінію про капіталізм як причину усіх проблем людства. Неолібералізм - зло. Нью Ейдж - зло. Зазвичай вони ще й ламаються на темі України або інших країн, які входять у зону інтересів РФ - чи не дивно це?

Щодо цієї книги, то тут головною темою є "духовність" у її неоліберальному, корпоративному, комерційному значеннях. Тобто як просто ще один феномен, який поєднує багатьох шахраїв від бізнесу у темі "духовні атрибути та цінності". Звісно від цього треба врятувати. А ще від Бога Капіталу, який прийшов на заміну Богу звичайному. Спершу мене ця книга навіть зачепила за живе, бо дуже багато гарних фраз, закликів та критики. Однак згодом я побачив, що це далі той "Маркс", фактичну біографію якого ігнорують, створюють ідол "кращим традиціях комунізму, який не здійснився, але ми його знову тойво", а потім винним стає знову неолібералізм та вільний ринок. Звісно ці пацани хочуть взяти і навести порядок, замінити попередній на новішу версію антиглобалістського марксизму чи постмарксизму. І знову забути про те, що саме наробив марксизм, ліва ідеологія, революційні настрої у Центрально-Східній Європі. Що наробили маркстити різних мастей у Азії, розстрілюючи купу людей просто за класову приналежність.

Я так думаю.. комунізм і деякі форми марксизму давно пора заборонити на міжнародному рівні і засудити за ті злочини, які було зроблено під прапорами. Давно пора це зробити і в тих країнах, де далі мастурбують на Маркса або дотичних до нього новіших персонажів.

А із шахраями, які і в релігійній, і в політичній сферах займаються зароблянням грошей на наївних і працьовитих громадянах, слід чинити по закону - зловили, зібрали докази, посадили. Остаточне рішення богові капіталу може пропонувати тільки потенційно тоталітарна ідеологія.
Profile Image for Caleb Roberts.
9 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2019
By commodifying spirituality, neoliberalism is cutting out the religious middleman when it comes to purveying the opium of the people. So the argument goes here. The authors trace a clear trajectory from the initial privatization/psychologization of religion in modernity to the appropriation of spirituality as a form of covert social control to produce flexible and compliant consumer subjects.

"In effect, the territorial takeover of religion by psychology (individualisation) is the platform for the takeover of spirituality by capitalism (corporatisation)." (79)

Given that the subject is spirituality in general, the authors spend a lot of time on the recent import of eastern spiritualities, conveniently secularized and individualized for an affluent Western market. Which was interesting, but I personally (and obviously) wanted more exploration of how Christianity has been been colonized and appropriated, and indeed, how it has aided and abetted its own appropriation.

I also liked the conclusion where the authors propose that "what we need at this moment are new 'atheisms' that reject the God of money" (179), for "in a context where 'the Market' has become the new God of our times, the emergence of socially oriented forms of 'spirituality', critically engaging with the wisdom of the world's 'religious' traditions, may yet have a key role to play in providing the means for resisting unrestrained consumerism and the commodification of life itself." (176-177).
Author 29 books10 followers
November 9, 2013
Carrette is a Foucault scholar so it isn’t surprising that the text is pretty dense. Still an interesting read. The main thesis is that as, through the development of psychology as a “science” and the popularization of (bits of) Eastern wisdom traditions in the West, self / self-worth / self-fulfillment / self –esteem / self-etc.etc. have become the major underpinning of “spirituality’. In the process earlier “religious” thoughts about social justice, relationships to others, the roots of poverty, connection to and responsibility for a larger community have been pushed into the background. This new “selfish spirituality” has in the last couple of decades been recognized as a potential cash cow by the neo-liberals, the ultimate me-first-and-the-common-good-be-damned gurus, who have been colonizing “spirituality” to line their own pockets. I was happy to see some of my unfavorite spiritual capitalist like Deepak Chopra singled out for particular mention.
Interlibrary loan from Royal Roads College.
Profile Image for Claire O'Connor.
Author 1 book6 followers
May 29, 2019
A Protestant-style staunch response to people doing wtf they want. The whole premise of the book is based on the commodification of religion and spirituality. For me it fails to consider that money has always been involved in religion.
Profile Image for Simon.
5 reviews
July 13, 2011
A useful book for those with a nagging doubt as to the validity of current trends for all things "spiritual". Anyone with already a sceptical outlook on this matter and of consumerist society in general will find nothing really surprising here. The main problem I had with this book is the authors constant hammering on of their point sometimes several times per page.The view that psychology/psychotherapy is in service of global industry to provide models for ideal passive consumers is an appealing novelty. No real solutions were put forward in their plea to take back the spiritual high ground from the capitalist economy though. Any militant mystics out there?
129 reviews3 followers
May 25, 2021
A really important book on the way neoliberalism is commodifying/corporatizing and individualizing our spiritualities. The writing was occasionally less than clear (lots of repetition)--could have used a good editor.
Profile Image for Lori.
165 reviews16 followers
March 13, 2021
GAWD this was a dense book! The message was interesting but it could have been summed up in a lot less words. Repetition was key here... I think "thought control" was on every other page.
October 8, 2021
I debated awhile on whether this should be two stars or one. The case for two is that this book does represent a major shift in thinking about where we are at with spirituality. It is the sort of de facto book on the concerns of the concurrent commodification and cafeteria style choosing of religion, and one must not take for granted that many aren't even aware what this whole "spirituality" thing is, let alone the interactions it is having with capitalism and the results thereof.

But yet, I still chose one star. Why, you ask? For the great basic idea that this book started on, the writing was absolutely horrendous. This could have honestly been a 30/40 page short book that was painfully extended 182 pages. This book felt like a hellfire and brimstone lecture turned in to a writing style, where it wasn't data or convincing arguments that seek to bring you to the light, but rather a constant, and overly forceful, reminder of the badness of the other side in the same negative and academic-seeming words, over and over again. It really was a painful read, and I would highly recommend a summary instead of putting yourself through the torture that is this book.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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