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Eschatology, Ethics, and Ēthnos

Ressentiment and Christian Nationalism in the Anthropology of Christianity

Jon Bialecki

Christian nationalism, a long-running and arguably increasingly influential political force, appears to consist mainly of an open set of affectively charged but cognitively underdetermined concepts and images that are capable of being constituted in a number of widely divergent forms. Despite this potential variety, the various instantiations of Christian nationalisms documented by the anthropology of Christianity tend to have similar features, even as they are actualized in quite different milieux and understood as being responses to quite different threats. Drawing on ethnographic work in the United States, this article argues that this recurrent crystallization of Christian nationalism into the specific form under certain conditions—the adoption of a temporally ambivalent eschatology, an ethics oriented around mimesis, and, most of all, an outward-facing ressentiment—works to self-catalyze the production of a racialized Christian nationalism that envisions itself at once as an entitled majority and as an embattled minority.

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Erika Friedl and Reinhold Loeffler

This article is an ethnographic dissection of ideas pertaining to eschatology in a Shi’a Muslim tribal area in Iran that reveals the syncretistic possibilities in lived Islam, the generosity of the local culture regarding matters of religion, and individuals’ motivations for selecting certain possibilities to think about death and the afterlife. A common theme is for people to look at religious tenets as they pertain to this-worldly relations and can be approached with empirical experiences, all within the general frame of a regulated universe created by a merciful, understanding God. Research for this discussion stretched across 50 years in Iran.

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Joseph Webster

In Gamrie, an Aberdeenshire fishing village home to 700 people and six millennialist Protestant churches, global warming is more than just a 'hoax': it is a demonic conspiracy that threatens to bring about the ruin of the entire human race. Such a certainty was rendered intelligible to local Christians by viewing it through the lens of dispensationalist theology brought to the village by the Plymouth Brethren. In a play on Weberian notions of disenchantment, I argue that whereas Gamrie's Christians rejected global warming as a false eschatology, and environmentalism as a false salvationist religion, supporters of the climate change agenda viewed global warming as an apocalyptic reality and environmentalism as providing salvific redemption. Both rhetorics - each engaged in a search for 'signs of the end times' - are thus millenarian.

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The End Begins in Me

New Forms of Political Action in Israeli Channeling

Adam Klin-Oron

In this article I examine eschatological beliefs and practices among channels in Israel and abroad, and show that they demonstrate an avoidance of traditional, group-oriented political action, and an embrace of alternative, spiritual action performed individually. This is linked to Israel's shift to a neo-liberal economy and culture in the last few decades, where self-accountability has become the norm. Channeling teaches an extreme version of self-divinity, claiming that a person creates all aspects of his or her life and objecting to outside authority and regulation. It believes in a coming of a New Age of light and that the means to achieve it are personal quests for individual empowerment, which are anticipated to affect the whole world via the “virtual aggregate group,” an energetic reservoir that replaces the traditional group. Channels are engaged in alternative political action, attempting to change the world by virtually pooling spiritual resources.

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Dissenting from Redemption

Judaism and Political Theology

Alana M. Vincent

The mobilization of theological concepts within the political sphere is increasingly dependent upon the capacity of those concepts to bear the weight of a discourse of universalism; this universalization becomes problematic when such theo-political concepts are then taken up as terms of commonality in interreligious dialogue. This article will focus on one such concept, redemption, as a case study, uncovering the ways that assumptions of universalism might betray the mutual understanding towards which dialogue aims.

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Jonathan Magnonet

"All the calculated ends have already passed, and it now depends entirely on repentance and good deeds" (Sanhédrin). This rabbinic word of caution about anticipating the exact date of the arrival the Messiah would apply to all such hopes and calculations associated eschatological movements throughout history, as well as expectations bound the new millennium. Whether waiting for a new heaven to descend peacefully on earth or some final apocalyptic disaster, presumably covered by CNN, energies unleashed by the concept of the new millennium could be turned 'repentance and good deeds' the world might indeed be transformed messianic place. But the odds seem to be against such a radical transformation.

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'Another Generation Cometh'

Apocalyptic Endings and New Beginnings in Science Fictional New London(s)

Pat Wheeler

This article looks at the sub-genre of apocalyptic science fiction and explores the ways that a range of contemporary writers engage with natural, climatic disasters and the damage wrought to the planet in the Anthropocene era. The novels under discussion are Maggie Gee's The Flood and The Ice People, Adam Roberts's The Snow, Stephen Baxter's Flood and Stephen Jones's creative compilation Zombie Apocalypse. The novels are analysed as examples of revelatory eschatological and apocalyptic literature that implicitly borrow from canonical religious writings of the past. The article analyses the apocalyptic narratives as predictors of both the end of the world and the coming of a new age. It focuses primarily on the novels' relationship to apocalyptic discontinuity and to end-of-the-world scenarios that are predicated on the forces of nature.