Millennium, Messiahs and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements

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First Published in 1997. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As the year 2000 approaches, both popular culture and popular religion have painted pictures of what the end times might look like. Robbins and Palmer have gathered a number of essays that take a sober look at the phenomenon of apocalypticism in the modern world. In a first section, authors like David Bromley (religion, VCU) and James Aho (sociology, Idaho State) challenge traditional theories of apocalypse and show that apocalyptic thinking may be found beyond the borders of linear Western thinking. A second section examines the ways in which apocalypticism has been secularized in movements like the Christian militia movements. In a third section, writers examine the ways in which apocalypticism has been promulgated among organized religions. A final section explores the violence and confrontational stances of apocalyptic movements like the Christian Identity Movement, David Koresh's Branch Davidians and Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult whose members loosed sarin gas in the Tokyo subway. In all of the essays, the authors attempt to show how apocalyptic groups may be defined by their attention to the signs of the millennium and the signs of a messiah, a figure who will draw to a close one epoch and usher in a new one, and the ways in which these dual beliefs often lead to mayhem. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Robbins, an independent sociologist of religion, and Palmer (new religious movements, Dawson Coll. and Concordia Univ.) have compiled a collection of articles on the import of the coming millennium and associated groups and movements. The contributorsscholars in religion, sociology, and other social sciencesdiscuss the theory of apocalypticism; secular groups such as survivalists, militias, and feminists; religious groups; and the violence and confrontation associated with the millennium. This collection gives a good overview of a complicated topic by delving into the various movements that are looking at the millennium as a watershed event for their particular sets of beliefs. The work is scholarly with extensive references; it should find a place on academic library shelves, particularly those with strong sociology or religious collections.Cynthia L. Peterson, Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Ctr. at Dallas
These 16 contributions advance the notion that a wave of apocalyptic and millennial ferment has been washing over American society and culture for several decades. The authors discuss this ferment in terms of its contemporary secular forms, its manifestation in American institutionalized religion, and its connection to violence and confrontation in such groups as the Branch Davidians and the Order of the Solar Temple. Although the focus is on North America, several contributors address developments overseas. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415916486
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Robbins is an independent sociologist of Religion. He is the author of Cults, Converts and Charisma (1988) and has co-edited numerous books, among them In Gods We Trust (1990) and Between Sacred and Secular (1994). Susan J. Palmer teaches at Dawson College and Concordia University and specializes in new religious movements. She is the author of Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers and AIDS as an Apocalyptic Metaphor.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Patterns of Contemporary Apocalypticism 1
Sect. 1 Theories of Apocalypticism
1 Constructing Apocalypticism: Social and Cultural Elements of Radical Organization 31
2 Millennialism With and Without the Mayhem 47
3 The Apocalypse of Modernity 61
4 Fifteen Years of Failed Prophecy: Coping with Cognitive Dissonance in a Baha'i Sect 73
Sect. 2 Secularizing the Millennium
5 Secularizing the Millennium: Survivalists, Militias, and the New World Order 93
6 Environmental Apocalypse: The Millennial Ideology of "Earth First!" 119
7 Technological Millenarianism in the United States 139
8 Woman as World Savior: The Feminization of the Millennium in New Religious Movements 159
Sect. 3 Apocalypticism and the Churches
9 The Vengeful Virgin: Case Studies in Contemporary American Catholic Apocalypticism 175
10 Christian Reconstructionism and the Angry Rhetoric of Neo-Postmillennialism 195
11 The Persistence of Apocalypticism Within a Denominationalizing Sect: The Apocalyptic Fringe Groups of Seventh Day Adventism 207
12 Latter Day Revisited: Contemporary Mormon Millenarianism 229
Sect. 4 Violence and Confrontation
13 Millenarians and Violence: The Case of the Christian Identity Movement 247
14 Religious Totalism, Exemplary Dualism, and the Waco Tragedy 261
15 The Mystical Apocalypse of the Solar Temple 285
16 Aum Shinrikyo as an Apocalyptic Movement 313
Contributors 325
Index 331
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