News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: My Views on the Apocalypse

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Views on the Apocalypse

The previous post may have left some of you scratching your heads. My thoughts about the Apocalypse--or an apocalypse--are might seem out of character. As I have written before, there are many ways to understand that wonderfully surreal book called Revelation. Without rehashing old statements, I want to add that my thoughts have turned to apocalyptic in response to articles that jodi dean is posting at her blog. In response ...

I have added the following in comments at her blog:

Without getting too bogged down in terminology, eschatology relates to anything dealing with ultimate things, such as life after death and so on. Apocalyptic is related to end times and history and the role that the divine or transcendent plays in bringing that about.

Your separation of political and religious seems unwarranted. Many of the intertestamental apocalypses have politico-religious ramifications. Seeing that the Xtian Zionists use a political message is nothing new, therefore. As I remarked to Jodi earlier, there have been politico-relious movements of apocalypsticists from those times and throughout Xtian, Jewish, and Islamic history.

Pocock, for example, notes the political ramifications of Savonarola's apocalypticism, as well as this dimension in English and American revolutionary periods. Pocock makes some interesting comments on how apcalyptic changes one's relationship to time and sees time.

For Pocock, what happened in Savonarolan Florence, for example, was that the apocalyptic message brought time down to earth--so to speak--giving the believers that they had a direct role in the outcome of history. This opposed the Augustinian conception of time and the two kingdoms, since in that framework the two worlds did not intersect except at the end of time, which God was in control of and which humans had no role to play.

I also noted there that: What is unique about the Bush Xtians is that they are using the mythology of apocalypse to support a conservative/reactionary ideology.

As many biblical scholars will tell you this has not been true in the past--apocalyptic movements and the genre itself have referred to and emanated from the socially marginalized and dispossessed.

In my recent reading projects, I have also come across this idea within British politics and American colonial politics. That is, as JGA Pocock has shown, millenarian groups were those who were at the forefront of secularization, as well as the egalitarian-oriented movement of republicanism.

The Busybody blog is doing some interesting things around questions of this sort. You might also wish to check out Mark Goodacre's blog and this posting on Paul and apocalyptic. There's also this interesting page with many good links at the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean blog.

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