Omens of the Millennium

Omens of the Millennium

by Harold Bloom
     
 

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In this impassioned, erudite, and provocative work, Harold Bloom, bestselling author and America's foremost literary and cultural critic, examines society's "New Age" obsessions: angels, prophetic dreams, and near-death experiences. Omens of Millennium traces these cultural phenomena from their ancient and traditional origins to their present-day,

Overview

In this impassioned, erudite, and provocative work, Harold Bloom, bestselling author and America's foremost literary and cultural critic, examines society's "New Age" obsessions: angels, prophetic dreams, and near-death experiences. Omens of Millennium traces these cultural phenomena from their ancient and traditional origins to their present-day, millennial manifestations. In addition, it is a personal account of Bloom's Gnosticism. Certain to educate, challenge, and entertain, Omens of Millennium is as fascinating as it is timely.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
In this commanding and impassioned inquiry, Bloom draws on a lifelong study of religion and, in particular, of Gnosticism, the knowing that God is not an external force but resides within each one of us. Through the ancient literatures of Jewish Kabbalah, Christian Gnosticism, and Muslim Shi'ite Sufism, he reveals to us angels not as the kitschy cherubs we know today but as magnificent, terrifying, sublime beings who have always played a central role in Western culture. He allows us to feel their splendor and to experience the powerful role that dreams and near-death experiences have held throughout the centuries.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A fascination with near-death experiences, alien abductions, angels and prophetic dreams has reached a "particular intensity" in the U.S. as the millennium approaches. Or so says Bloom (The Western Canon) in this dazzling, maverick study in literature and comparative religion. Pausing often to unpack his own religious convictions, which are rooted in Gnosticism, a mystical belief system whose elusive history he traces to early Christianity, Kabbalistic Judaism and Islamic Sufism, Bloom contends that such "omens of the Millennium" are in fact debased forms of Gnosticism. Gnosis, he writes, is a spiritual orientation at odds with orthodox religion. It eschews faith in an outward God for knowledge of the divinity of the deepest self and retells the story of creation as a fall away from a Godhead and a Fullness that, Bloom says, is more humane than the God of institutional religion. Contrasting the "inspired vacuity" of New Age writers like Arianna Huffington and Raymond A. Moody to authentic Gnostic authors (who, according to Bloom, include ancient sages like Valentinus, medieval Kabbalists like Isaac Luria and more modern writers like Blake, Emerson and Shakespeare), Bloom explores how images of angels, prophecies and resurrection have always mirrored anxieties about the end of time, and how these images have been domesticated by popular culture. Bloom frequently injects himself into his study, discussing with rueful irony his own experiments with the outer limits of consciousness, including his own "near-death experience" (in a hospital while convalescing from a bleeding ulcer). The final chapter is a Gnostic sermon on self-transcendence. This book's brevity and eccentricities (Huffington and Moody are easy targets who don't exemplify the range and complexity of New Age thought) diminish its force as polemic. As a critical performance, however, it's a tour de force, highlighting a secret history of mystical thought whose visionaries and poets call out to each other over the centuries. (Sept.)
Library Journal
With the approach of the year 2000, people are turning to spiritual phenomena such as angels, dream interpretation, and near-death experiences. Bloom (The Western Canon, LJ 9/1/94), a self-proclaimed Gnostic, seeks to show that the connection between these concerns and the coming millennium can best be understood by tracing their development from ancient Zoroastrian spirituality through Christian Gnosticism, Muslim Shi'ite Sufism, and Jewish Kabbalism, into contemporary American religious culture. Within this "context that can serve as a spiritual standard of measurement," he portrays much of the current popular fascination as insipid, debased, and commercialized, especially in the United States. He synthesizes insights from a broad array of sourcesincluding the Bible, the Kabbalah, the Koran, Jewish and Christian Gnostic texts, Shakespeare, and Freudas he develops his thesis. If not always convincing, his work is enlightening, engaging, and often personal. For general and informed readers.Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781573226295
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/01/1997
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.69(d)

What People are saying about this

Moshe Idel
"Bloom's magisterial book portrays impulses for trancending ordinary existence, which permeate mystical literatures from antiquity to recent times. Drawing on Gnostic, Sufic, Kabbalistic, and psychoanalytical sources, Bloom illumines archetypal themes fromthe perspective of his vision of the American Religion." -- Moshe Idel, Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and author of Kabbalah: New Perspectives
Bentley Layton
"A dazzling account of the Gnostic, Jewish, and Islamic roots of American spirituality by our most prominent literary and religious critic. Omens of the Millennium is one of those magnificent works of religious interpretation and synthesis that appear only once in a generation"--Bentley Layton, Pofessor of Religious Studies, Yale

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