Expecting Armageddon: Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy

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The expectation of an end to time and the yearning for a millennial paradise have been recurring themes in Western religious thought. But when we speak of "expectation" of the world's end we are mindful of the fact that generation after generation of millenarians have been disappointed. Their endtime hopes and prophecies have not come true. What happens, one might ask, when prophecies fail? Does failure spell the end of the very movements that embrace such expectations?

This volume gathers together classic essays addressing the intriguing question first raised by Leon Festinger in his 1956 work When Prophecy Fails. Assembling both sociological and psychological perspectives on a striking theme in religious history, Expecting Armageddon brings together forty years of work on how belief in prophecy survives even when prophecies fail.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415923309
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1
1 Unfulfilled Prophecies and Disappointed Messiahs 31
2 Prophecy Fails Again: A Report of a Failure to Replicate 55
3 Prophetic Failure and Chiliastic Identity: The Case of Jehovah's Witnesses 65
4 When Prophecies Fail: A Theoretical Perspective on the Comparative Evidence 87
5 The Effects of Prophetic Disconfirmation of the Committed 105
6 Prophecy Continues to Fail: A Japanese Sect 119
7 When the Bombs Drop: Reactions to Disconfirmed Prophecy in a Millennial Sect 129
8 Spiritualization and Reaffirmation: What Really Happens when Prophecy Fails 145
9 Had Prophecy Failed?: Contrasting Perspectives of the Millerites and Shakers 159
10 How Do Movements Survive Failures of Prophecy? 175
11 "It Separated the Wheat from the Chaff": The "1975" Prophecy and Its Impact among Dutch Jehovah's Witnesses 191
12 Coping with Apocalypse in Canada: Experiences of Endtime in La Mission de l'Esprit Saint and the Institute of Applied Metaphysics 211
13 When Festinger Fails: Prophecy and the Watchtower 233
14 When Prophecy Is Not Validated: Explaining the Unexpected in a Messianic Campaign 251
15 Fifteen Years of Failed Prophecy: Coping with Cognitive Dissonance in a Baha'i Sect 269
Sources 283
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