The Varieties of the Millennial Experience

Richard Landes

in Heaven on Earth

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753598
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897445 | DOI:
The Varieties of the Millennial Experience

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This chapter goes into the psychology of apocalyptic believers, the megalomanic (and often paranoid) belief that they are at the center of a cosmic drama, and explores why, despite so many spectacular failures in announcing the coming kingdom of heaven, the belief has not abated even in the modern, “rational,” and secular world. It then offers a set of definitions for terms the book will use repeatedly: apocalyptic, millennial, eschatological. It lays out two sets of variables that allow one to map the phenomena: for millennialism, demotic (egalitarian) versus imperial (hierarchical), progressive versus restorative; for apocalyptic, cataclysmic (violent destruction) versus transformative (change of will), active (human participation) versus passive (divine action).

Keywords: Augustine; megalomania; paranoia; hidden transcripts; judgment day; eschatology; unintended consequences

Chapter.  16453 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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