"The interplay between prosperity—and poverty—and religious observance has become a recent fascination of a small number of economists and other social scientists, for understanding these patterns can help us better predict the future. Do hard times produce more fundamentalists? Do prosperous times produce more do-gooders? Will a lengthy economic slump pull people into the pews to pray for jobs and ladle soup for needier neighbors? Or will it keep people at home on the couch, nursing psychic wounds and cursing their creator?"
Lisa Miller, on whether recessions make us more religious. (via newsweek)
Good questions, Lisa. Also, read Nick Paumgarten’s piece asking why people view tragedies as “acts of God”:
"Questions of agency, divine or otherwise, dog us these early-summer days, amid a pileup of ill tidings: an intractable war; hints, once again, of economic depression; the deep-sea oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Who’s to blame? Who’s in charge? On the day of the Mayor’s pronouncement, a technician who is working with British Petroleum to drill relief wells told the Times, in response to questions about the state of the damaged well, and about the prospects for fixing it, ‘No human being alive can know the answers.’ A line like that could put a man in a theological mood—especially on the heels of the technician’s previous remark, a triumph of the triple negative: ‘I won’t say there haven’t been relief wells that haven’t worked.’”