A Feature Review of
At the Altar of Wall Street: The Rituals, Myths, Theologies, Sacraments, and Mission of the Religion Known as the Modern Global Economy
Reviewed by Alden Bass.
In the novel American Gods, Neil Gaiman tells the story of the transition between the Old Gods and the New Gods. The Old Gods – bearing familiar names like Odin and Thor and Aster – arrived in America as the patrons of Old World immigrants. They continued to fill the religious needs of the people in their new land, just as they had done for centuries before in Europe. In Gaiman’s fantasy, however, the Old Gods are losing ground to the New American Gods, portrayed as personifications of Media, Technology, Entertainment, and Finance (cleverly called “the Intangibles”). It is the last of these American Gods which Scott Gustafson tackles in his new book, At the Altar of Wall Street, though Gustafson utilizes anthropological tools to substantialize the truth behind Gaiman’s fictional narrative.