David Myers, John Dirk Werkman Professor of Psychology at Hope College in Michigan, is a prolific and respected author. His psychology textbooks are used at about 1,000 colleges and universities, while his other writings have explored the psychology of religion, sexual orientation, terrorism fears, ESP, and his own battle with hearing loss. His most recent book is The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty (Yale University Press), which was recently excerpted in Christianity Today. Yale University Press will publish his next book, Intuition: Its Powers and Perils, in September.
What is the American Paradox?
On the one hand, we've been soaring materially. Our civil rights have been expanding. We've got technology galore, and we love it all. These are the best of times. At the same time, we've got unprecedented numbers of children having children. Our teens have become more suicidal and violent. We've become more demoralized and depression-prone as adults. We live in an era that can be described as one of plenty, but also spiritual hunger. And that's the paradox. Expanding wealth and sinking spirits.
What do you mean when you use the term social recession?
From 1960 to the early 1990s we've seen several trends, including a doubling of the divorce rate, a tripling of the teen suicide rate, a quadrupling of the rate of reported violence, a quintupling of the prison population in the United States, and a sextupling in the percentage of babies born to unmarried parents. Everybody, whether you're Planned Parenthood or Focus on the Family, agrees this has not been for the betterment of children. Fortunately, some of these trends, such as juvenile violence, for example, and teen suicide have begun to abate as the culture ...1
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