Epilogue: Interpreting the Obsession

Robert C. Fuller

in Naming the Antichrist

Published in print February 1997 | ISBN: 9780195109795
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853281 | DOI:
Epilogue: Interpreting the Obsession

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The story of the American Antichrist is varied and fascinating. It reveals a legacy of powerful religious emotion directed toward those persons or social forces that challenge the boundaries of theological orthodoxy. This book concludes by inquiring into the nature and meaning of this historical obsession. Americans' enduring tendency to mythologize life in the categories of apocalyptic thought is laden with social and psychological significance. By projecting Americans' doubts and uncertainties onto a demonic “other,” the act of naming the Antichrist protects their personal and collective sensibilities from the frailties of human existence. Many historical works have already sought to clarify the meanings and significance of apocalyptic discourse, including those by Norman Cohn, Michael Barkun, Charles Strozier, and Stephen OʼLeary. In religious terms, the obsession with the Antichrist has channeled many Americans' desire to be loyal to God into hate-filled crusades rather than into efforts leading to a deepened receptivity to, or communion with, the “Higher Other” in relation to which they can know themselves to be inherently valued and prized.

Keywords: Antichrist; obsession; orthodoxy; apocalyptic thought; demonic other; Norman Cohn; God; Michael Barkun; Charles Strozier; Stephen OʼLeary

Chapter.  4571 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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