- File Size: 7348 KB
- Print Length: 207 pages
- Publisher: IVP (May 5, 2020)
- Publication Date: May 5, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07ZG7H9YV
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,888 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$21.99|
|Print List Price:||$22.00|
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The Myth of the American Dream: Reflections on Affluence, Autonomy, Safety, and Power Kindle Edition
|Length: 207 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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"In my work with immigrants to the US, I find most came in search of some combination of safety from persecution, opportunity to escape poverty, and freedom from oppression―all motivations consistent with the human flourishing that characterizes God's kingdom. In the US, however, these good desires that define many immigrants' 'American dream' have too often metastasized as we have turned safety, affluence, power, and autonomy into idols to be sought at all costs, even when―sometimes subconsciously―these pursuits have excluded others. D. L. Mayfield's beautifully written and provocative The Myth of the American Dream makes a compelling case that God's dream for the world is much grander than our culturally ingrained idols." (Matthew Soerens, coauthor of Welcoming the Stranger, US director of church mobilization for World Relief)
"Three pages into The Myth of the American Dream I was reminded that D. L. Mayfield is an unapologetic truth teller devoted to loving her neighbors. She has a prophetic voice, and like all prophets, she speaks the truth while reminding us God loves us. That is why we are invited not to a life of charity but of solidarity and advocacy with those on the margins. In her book, we learn ethics matter, integrity matters, and we cannot say we love our neighbors while supporting an empire that exploits and discards them. With humility and honesty, she guides our imaginations toward a powerful vision of a life lived according to the economy of God, one of justice and flourishing for all." (Karen González, World Relief, author of The God Who Sees)
"The American dream, a common developed theology, tucked deep inside the myth of America's founding, saturates every system in America from politics to education to the church. This so-called dream is perhaps the most widespread and deepest held religion in our country. D. L. Mayfield examines the myth and exposes it in wonderful juxtaposition to the real Jesus of the Gospels, who is good news to the poor and disenfranchised. I wish every American, regardless of how much they believe themselves to have separated themselves from the national religion of Americanism, would read The Myth of the American Dream. This may be the most important book you read for some time, and it is especially urgent that you read it now!" (Randy Woodley, author and speaker, distinguished professor of faith and culture at Portland Seminary)
"D. L. Mayfield is one of our most important contemplative writers. Her meditation on the myths we live and the better story Jesus offers is hearty soul food for all who hunger for justice. Eat this book. And like any good meal, share it with those you love." (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Revolution of Values)
"This book is most welcome as both a challenge and an inspiration to live out our lives as Christians first and Americans second. The conflation of the US church's spiritual identity with our political identity and the persistent pursuit of affluence, autonomy, safety, and power have become toxic to our followership with Jesus Christ and incapacitated our ability to live out and express to a watching and waiting world what the gospel is all about. This book doesn't just startle us out of our misaligned pursuit of the American dream but also points us to a better way of how we can love God and love our neighbors in tangible ways that demonstrate to a broken world that Jesus indeed calls us to an upside-down kingdom. I'm grateful for D. L.'s ongoing commitment to her neighbors and for her experiences that she weaves into this timely and important book that ultimately points us to a better way of hope, community, and healing." (Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy, World Relief, coauthor of Welcoming the Stranger)
"Christians looking for a list of things to do to address privilege, affluence, and white supremacy should not read this book because D. L. Mayfield does not offer pithy, easy answers. This is not a self-help book for dealing with guilt. She offers us her failures and questions, challenges us to consider how our lives and faith have been shaped and misshapen by the myth of the American dream, and invites us to interrogate our beliefs and lives. What a needed invitation." (Kathy Khang, author of Raise Your Voice)
"This trenchant Christian critique of American exceptionalism provides an essential, passionate interpretation of the ideals of egalitarianism." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"D. L. Mayfield is a fierce truth-teller, and The Myth of the American Dream is proof of that. This book confronts us with the demons of white supremacy, our own demons, and asks what we're going to do about them. This book reminds us that our lives are more than our own and that we are required to ask how to be better partners to one another in community. This is a book the white American church needs right now." (Kaitlin B. Curtice, author of Glory Happening and Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God) --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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I think the thing I like the most about Mayfield’s books is that she doesn’t tell us what to think or what to do specifically. She voices concerns, gives data, and laments. It’s an easy read, but gave me much to ponder and ruminate over. Although the book is mostly about the ills of broken society there is hope scattered throughout that change is attainable.
The book is a series of essays peppered with stories. Some I agreed with wholeheartedly while others I bristled at. Many points that we would do well to consider.
Years ago I stumbled on Mayfield's blog and she quickly became one of my favorite authors and current voices for those of trying to navigate following Jesus and loving our neighbors, all the while detoxing from aspects of American Christianity that glorify the very things Mayfield writes about in this second book: affluence, autonomy, safety, and power. This is not an easy read, nor is it intended to be. (That's not a comment on the refreshing and relatable style of writing, but rather the content. ;) This book will make you uncomfortable and might even break your heart, if you let it. But Mayfield doesn't stop there; she is offering us an invitation, or rather, she is compelling us to consider the invitation from Jesus to see the Empire for what it is, and choose to live instead in the upside down kingdom of God. I am a former ESL teacher, a current social worker, and someone who has been on a journey of trying to follow Jesus and untangle my faith and political engagement from the messiness of American Evangelicalism, so this book resonates with me on so many levels. However, I think this book is for anyone who is curious and willing to grapple with our current state of things (politically, spiritually, economically, etc.) This is a hell of a book to read in the middle of a global pandemic, but I think the timing is perfect. There are systems of inequity and marginalization being exposed all over the world right now and my hope is that this book could be a tool for us to not just turn a blind eye and go back to our privileged, insulated lives, but to respond on a deeper level and realize that our peace and justice is truly only ours to the extent that they are accessible to our neighbors too.
"In the end I want to be a poet more than I want to be a prophet: someone who pays attention and sees the world and yet has the imagination to envision a different future." I believe that DL is both a poet and a prophet and her words left me itching for a dangerously creative imagination for a different future. It doesn't have to be this way, and I am thankful for books like this one that remind me.
For the past 3-4 years I have had a book on my heart to write. Not ever having done a writing project, and being deathly afraid of critiques, I took notes, blogged a bit, preached a series with the beginning ideas of the book, and generally avoided doing more.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s. My college years were the mid to late 80s. I grew up in a fundamentalist/Pentecostal church and went to a denominational school to study the Bible, theology, and missions. I also found the writing of Chuck Colson in the late 80s and was constantly challenged by his thinking. He wrote of a post-Christian America and how we needed to shift paradigms.
My thinking from that point on never “fit” with my upbringing… exactly. My formation early on happened in the Reagan years and being “pro-life” was IT. But in the late 80s, something changed. I began to SEE the poor. I studied thoroughly in Scriptures, making a years long study of the poor and marginalized.
In all of that, even as a pastor, I did not speak out nearly as much early on. By the time I was ready to… my denomination had radically shifted to an even harder “right wing” stance and I knew I was on my way out. Even without any sort of audience I still feared writing what needed to be said.
Enter D.L. Mayfield. From what I gather in her personal insights in her latest book The Myth of the American Dream I would guess she is about 10 years younger than me. And she writes with the ferocity I have felt.
The book I was going to write had a working title of “Living in Babylon.” It was about the cultural shifts and how ill-prepared the American conservative church was for this shift (ala Chuck Colson) and how we needed to prepare NOW for those shifts.
Mayfield has written that book. She has worked to bring down the curtain and expose, with fierce passion, the desperate situation we have in the American church.
Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament scholar, calls the prophets “poets.” Mayfield gravitates to the term “poet” for her life. She’s right. AND she is a prophet. She raises the prophetic voice I need in my own life.
This book goes directly at main pillars of American myth: Affluence, Autonomy, Safety, and Power. In each section she raises awareness how each of these “dreams” work well for the majority culture (which is white… spoiler alert) and is still a fantasy for people of color. In her work, she has spent years with immigrants, so a lot of the stories are with immigrant families.
The beauty of Mayfield’s work is she is not writing to simply “tear down America.” She is seeking the Kingdom of God…and quite often finds the principles of the Kingdom among the marginalized.
I could write another review of her book with just her quotes, but here are few to raise your body temperature a bit:
White evangelicals like myself are uniquely unprepared to engage in issues from an institutional or systemic perspective.
The myth of the American Dream comes in many forms, but its most basic iteration goes like this: anyone can make something of themselves if only they try hard enough.
The antidote to these myths is to consciously remember those who are not writing the history textbooks.
(This last one stood out because just in the last few weeks Attorney General Bill Barr was asked in an interview how history would look back on the Trump administration and he said, summing up, history is written by the winners. So, pretty favorably.)
We need the voice of D.L. Mayfield. Her writing is passionate. She seeks the Kingdom of God and challenges what gets in the way. She is here to tear down strongholds and her words are taking no prisoners.
It is May 2020 when I write this and I can easily say this: This book is one of the best books I will read this year.
I wish I had her gutsiness. I am grateful she wrote the book I needed to write because this one is far superior.