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  1. Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience - PDF Free Download
  2. Editor's Picks
  3. Millenarianism

Physical description xiii, p. Online Available online. Full view. Green Library. M Unknown. More options.

Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience - PDF Free Download

Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Contributor Lee, Martha F. Martha Frances , Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index. Lessing and Auguste Comte, Thomas Flanagan. More recently, millenarian themes have also marked the political fringe in spectacular and often violent ways. These eleven original essays, authored by established scholars in the field, explore the ways in which millenarianism pervades late 20th century life, explain how ancient ways of millenarian thinking affect modern thinking, examine the theoretical roots of millenarianism, and detail a number of millenarian movements.

Filling an important gap in the existing literature, the essays provide a thorough analysis of the phenomenon of modern millenarianism, focusing on the Americas and on modern controversial movements.

The Millennium: Heaven on Earth? (Part 1 of 2)

This unique volume should facilitate analysis and comparison of the various aspects of millenarianism in the Americas. The first section is comprised of essays that examine the meaning of millennial ideas, and why and how millennial themes can be found across history, from Robespierre's ideas to "The X-Files". The second section of the book contains essays that focus on specific millennial movements.

These essays explore and reflect the wide range of millenarianism in the modern Americas, from Black and White supremacist movements to American fundamentalists, and from the UFO subculture to Catholic sects. This collection of essays clearly and carefully explores the millennial urge, the theory and practice of millenarianism and its expression in the Americas. But long before we set our document-trained sights on the written accounts that such apocalyptic movements produce in their wake, the inhabitants of an entire town, a region, even a whole generation of people, have gone into a world where anything has become possible, where grown men can cry, where lifelong enemies can forgive and embrace, where unimaginable forgiveness and revenge can be taken, where the supernatural forces of the universe come to the aid of those who long for salvation.

Many things come to people who believe themselves in the midst of apocalyptic time; many things become possible. And those of us who read descriptions of their deeds so many years later must realize that we should not have happened. To the future they believed in, and acted upon, it was unthinkable that, after they died, so long after, denizens of the saeculum like us would still exist. See below, chapter 8. On the contrary, the more energetically wrong, the more consequential. The history of apocalyptic millennialism is a tale of unintended consequences.

For people who have entered apocalyptic time, everything quickens, enlivens, coheres. They become semiotically aroused—everything has meaning, patterns. The smallest incident can have immense importance and open the way to an entirely new vision of the world, one in which forces unseen by other mortals operate. In any case, for them, whereas once the apoc- alyptic pattern lay only in the shadows, scarcely discernable, the signs of its advent become now legible, visible, clear to anyone with discernment. Thus, those in apoca- lyptic semiosis become the vocationally aroused, stepping out of their closets, and into the public arena, burning with enough fervor and conviction that they are ready to forsake the safety of convention, the anonymity of consensus, the protec- tion of obeying the public transcript.

Believers who have received this calling burn bridges to their past lives: they give away their wealth, they leave their homes, for- sake spouses and families, friendships, jobs and professions.

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Whether, how, or why it happens is not clear; that people think it does happen, unquestionably occurs often. Hill, revised by L. Powell September 19, Oxford: Clarendon Press, —64 , The break with family that the hyperbole suggests seems of a pair with the hostility to the parent religion, Judaism, in the same sources. They are capable of both sacred joy and sacred violence.

In all cases, believers have broken with the past by making a leap of faith into a future whose advent they see coming. At their outset, all apocalyptic millennial movements are voluntary. Adherence is a movement of the soul: metanoia. The sense of spiritual connection, mutual purpose, cosmic commitments, that believers feel in these groups is perhaps the single most powerful motivator behind both the formation of millennial groups and of their persistence after prophecy fails. The kinds of mental vulnerabilities— especially at the hands of trusted spiritual leaders—that members of apocalyptic groups necessarily experience leads those on the outside to attribute it to a weak-minded and brain-washed lack of will.

Every apocalyptic episode is a game of chicken with the approaching end as the crack-up.

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But they can, in certain circumstances, develop into still-more-intense forms of authoritar- ianism with equally radical inequalities. No longer bound by customary rules, no longer prisoners of conventional expectations, millennialists can explore the world of human possibilities and experiment radically with their lives and the lives of others. Their imaginations unfettered, they can make connections and intuit relations at levels of that escape most of us with pedestrian minds. They live in an enchanted and exciting world, and they want nothing more than to bring the rest of us into it. Or, if we refuse, they will bring it to us.

And if we still resist, alas too often, they will strike us down as the apocalyptic enemy or force us to strike them down. Believers have varied careers.


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But rarely do they give birth to millennial move- ments, still more rarely do those movements make a lasting mark on the public consciousness, and still more rarely do millennial movements, like most of those under study in this volume, take power. Moreover, no movement that takes power can sustain the hallucination that the new world is indeed messianic for more than a short while. Most burn out quickly, in months or years; in rare cases, in a decade or two.

We historians, therefore, have a decided disadvantage in trying to understand what we deal with, precisely because the record of such ephemeral moments is written by people deeply hostile to the millennial actors, or, if not to the actors, to their incorrect apocalyptic expectation.

How do they deal with their shame in front of people they had only recently dismissed with contempt? How do they handle the cognitive dissonance of having embraced a prophecy that failed spectacularly? The key terms are apocalyptic, eschatology, and millennialism. In this book, it refers to two related issues: a sense imminence about the great upheaval and the scenario whereby we now go from this evil and corrupt world to the redeemed one.

The key element is, therefore, timing. Millennial or eschatological thinkers who anticipate a distant date for these events—six billion years till the sun goes nova, centuries before the advent of the millennium—tend to adopt passive pos- tures.

Millenarianism

Apocalyptic believers, on the other hand, tend toward hyperactivity. Indeed, the more impending the end, the more frenetic their behavior. Like the followers of the bishop of Pontus, who ceased to work and sold all their goods, or the Xhosa who killed all their cattle and stopped planting, such believers will burn every bridge to prove their faith.

So timing lies at the center of all apocalyptic rhetoric. Some are violent and envision cosmic destruction e.


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Some involve active human participation, some predict a supernatural event for which humans should prepare. Apocalypse thinking is, by nature, totalistic.


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Eschatology anticipates a complete end to history, to the saeculum. This can take both religious and secular forms. The messiness of earthly existence itself burns up in the process. When the body and soul are separated, the very drama of moral existence has been resolved. There is no future, no more tests, no more hopes. Future generations, and the open-ended dramas in which people might repent or harden their hearts, no longer have a say in the redemptive process.

For the apocalyptic believers, when the Eschaton arrives, les jeux sont fait. While apocalyptic eschatological beliefs can have a powerful impact, they tend to be short-lived. Like all apocalyptic beliefs, they prove wrong, and do so quite rapidly when the destruction fails to come. In most secular and cyclical apocalyptic scenarios, the end of the world or age results in the complete destruction of the physical world and the annihilation of even nonphysical life i.

Goldhammer Chicago: University of Chicago Press, If he did so, he assumed that, at the Last Judgment, God would forgive him for cheating because he believed in the date. Denominational eschatology focuses on orthodoxy and the ritual monopoly of the mechanisms of salvation. Such claims may have room for a moral dimension. The most moral person in the world cannot attain salvation extra ecclesiam.