Sutherland House Publishing

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The Saviour Syndrome

Who do we look up to?
Genres: Education, Religion & Spirituality, Science

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Published Date

APRIL 4, 2023 (U.S. & Canada) | MAY 1, 2023 (U.K. & Australia)

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Christ the Saviour is no more.

In the modern West, the life of the most significant figure in the history of the culture, is assumed to be obsolete. What remains? Quite a lot, actually. In this groundbreaking work, acclaimed sociologist John Carroll argues that humans in the Western tradition are, by their nature, saviour seeking. What he describes as a ‘saviour syndrome’ impels humans to find someone, or some equivalent, to show the way to a better life and counter the quintessentially modern ordeal of unbelief.

Drawing on literature, history, popular culture, and personal experience, he demonstrates how we are constantly investing people around us—teachers, leaders, performers, athletes, even children—with exemplary or transcendent qualities that we look up to and identify with, and strike to emulate. Jesus himself may be no more, but the archetype he founded continues to resonate long after his eclipse.


JOHN CARROLL is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, and a Senior Fellow of Yale University. He has degrees in mathematics, economics and sociology from the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge. His work focuses on culture, and its crucial role in the human search for meaning, with particular reference to the modern Western society.

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