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January 23, 2007


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I think it's misleading to explain the political bent you've described as originating in some kind of apocalypticism or millennarianism. Some of Lionel Trilling's writing, for example (particularly Sincerity and Authenticity, and his essay on William Dean Howells), describes very convincingly how this stance can derive from moral themes common throughout the modern West---progress through alienation, transcendence of contingency, etc. It seems to me that the politics it engenders is Christian only insofar as this sort of idealism is Christian.


apocalypticism doesn't have to be Christian; but Christian apocalypticism has been especially influential in the US


Deeply influential in the US. It's also making marks in other countries though-I can't tell you how many pentecostals there seem to be in NY's Caribbean community -just as one example.
Listening to W tonight I flinched everytime he said Victory - i kept waiting for him to say In Christ immediately after each utterance.
I do think that our brand of apocalypticism is deeply rooted in the Sublime.

The Constructivist

Jodi, thanks for keeping the extended tribute to Berube's WAAGNFNP going! I've got some nuclear apocalypticism for ya from Marshall and Devi at Mostly Harmless (1/11/07)!

Adam Kotsko

In all fairness, Weekly World News has been carrying Nostradamus stuff since the dawn of time.


I think your case is both over and understated. You overstate the current apocolypticism suggesting that 'it's all Bush's fault' (paraphrasing), while understating the historical apocolypticism in order to emphasize your political point.


Whether this apocalypticism you're finding in contemporary US is Christian or not, I think it's pretty much agreed that apocalypticism fits into a religious eschatology of some kind.

dr x

Within the first 2 minutes of his SOTU address, Bush mentioned the "No Child Left Behind Act." Coming from Bush's lips, I will always hear the cryptic reference to the 'Rapture.'



I never thought of the "left behind" association.
Vonnegut once said, and I paraphrase, that you might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. That's how I feel about the evangelicals: my interest is so minimal, and yet they keep forcing themselves on my attention because they are such big pests and potential disrupters of my peaceful and harmless existence.

The Constructivist

Jodi, in case you want to revisit the apocalypse from down under, the Blogocalypse Carnival is coming to Mostly Harmless April 1. Submissions due March 31. Sorry for the short notice.

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