The Myth of the American Dream: Reflections on Affluence, Autonomy, Safety, and Power

IVP. Apr. 2020. 192p. ISBN 9780830845989. $22. REL
In this latest work, Mayfield (Assimilate or Go Home) explores four basic values of the American dream through a series of short essays: affluence, autonomy, safety, and power. The myth of the American dream, in her words, is that “anyone can make something of themselves if only they try hard enough.” Throughout, the author exposes a continuous tension between the reality of the modern United States and the ideal that Christ proclaimed of “bringing good news to the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed.” Mayfield purposed to make a difference and pay attention to the inequality around her. As she documents the process, she delves into the reality of the American dream for those who are not white and middle class, but are marginalized by society. She concludes that simply living in the neighborhood or attempting to make a difference is not sufficient. Rather, “proximity only changes us if we enter into other people’s suffering...without rushing to explain it away.” The author succeeds in beginning the conversation of widening American Christianity to include those traditionally excluded.
VERDICT Similar in tone to Terence Lester’s I See You, this work will appeal to Christian readers seeking to make a change within their world. Recommended for all libraries.
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