8 rotestantism has been a powerful force in shaping the values and beliefs of JL Americans. One of the most important values associated with American Protestantism is the value of self-improvement. Christianity often emphasizes the natural sinfulness of human nature. Unlike Catholics, Protestants do not go to priests for forgiveness of their sins; individuals are left alone before God to improve themselves and ask for God’s guidance, forgiveness, and grace. For this reason, Protestantism has traditionally encouraged a strong and restless desire for self-improvement.
9 The need for self-improvement, once established, reaches far beyond self-improvement in the purely moral or religious sense. It can be seen in countless books which explain how people can be happier and more successful in life by improving everything from their vocabulary to their tennis game, or even their whole personality. Books of this type are often referred to as “self-help” books, and many are best sellers. They are the natural products of a culture in which people believe that “God helps those who help themselves.” In addition, Americans attend thousands of self-help seminars and support group meetings to help them stop smoking or drinking, lose weight, be better parents, have happier relationships, and develop self-confidence.