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Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

This kind of religious language raises some interesting questions about the relationship between religion and what has typically been referred to as “magic.” In the 19th and early 20th centuries, scholars believed that religion and magic represented two quite different forms of human behavior. For George James Frazier, author of The Golden Bough (1890) and still today one of the most familiar names in comparative mythology, religion involved the supplication of divine forces, magic was their compulsion.

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

Slot Machines as Spiritual Teachers and Supernatural Investment Strategies: When Religion Waxes Magical

Though contemporary scholars tend to be suspicious of such sweeping generalizations, magical beliefs and practices continue to be perceived as set apart from mainstream religion and culture. But might it be the case that magical beliefs and practices are intimately interwoven within mainstream religion and culture? In exploring this possibility, I look beyond church advertisements to two quite popular religious/spiritual teachers, Tolly Burkan (the founder of the American firewalking movement), and Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and its most popular and long-running daily television show, The 700 Club.