For me, finishing Glorious Appearing segued into Strozier’s discussion of paranoia and violence in “The Apocalyptic Other.” According to Strozier, one of the characteristics of a paranoid is the belief that he “lives in a world of shame and humiliation, of suspiciousness, aggression, and dualisms” (63) as well as deep-seated feelings of persecution and victimization. While Strozier, through his example of his patient Harriet clarifies that these feelings are usually a product of their minds, in Glorious Appearing, the protagonists do in fact live in a world that closely matches that description. They are a tiny rebel army trying to defeat an enemy that is millions strong. If they are captured by the enemy, they are tortured and then executed. Many of the main characters from the previous books have already been killed. In this world, the persecution is real, and therefore the divine vengeance is justified.
Last week, I did not write about Glorious Appearing, which makes me feel the task all the more necessary, if unfortunate. Firstly, the overall structure of the book must be noted: I felt like I had whiplash from the constantly changing storylines, one moment with this person, next page with another, then a third introduced, then full circle and back to the first character. Continue reading →
Much of what Strozier wrote in this week’s set of essays seemed to respond to my concern about how easily the “saved” characters in Glorious Appearing accept the punishment of the surrounding sinners. It is no less appalling to me that they could simply sit and watch, and even enjoy, the mass murder of most of the remaining population by Jesus – especially considering the gruesome manner in which the deaths were carried out. Continue reading →
After viewing Jesus Camp in class last week, I was really struggling with separating my personal beliefs from my observation and judgements of the Fundamentalist lifestyle/belief system. It’s incredibly frustrating to see something that I so strongly disagree with at work in real life. Hearing about this type of organized religion and indoctrination is difficult to grasp, but seeing it in action on screen was a huge shock for me. After thinking a lot about what was presented in the documentary, I was able to step back a little bit and take into consideration the psychology behind groups like these. This week’s Strozier readings helped me to gain a more level-headed perspective on the inner workings of those so heavily influenced by the Fundamentalist mindset. Continue reading →
As I turned to the last page of Glorious Appearing, I let out a sigh of relief that it was finally over. But lo and behold, the one-lined epilogue stated otherwise. After four hundred pages of waiting to read about a perfect ending to the world and the destruction of evil, the epilogue leaves us waiting again for another ending to come. Christ came, punished the sinners, and all seemed well, “But after these things [Satan] must be released for a little while” (399). All the protagonists just spent seven years waiting for this moment to be reunited in a perfect society under the kingdom of Jesus. And yet Rayford’s last statement was “We’ve only got a thousand years” (398). Must they always anticipate an end? Continue reading →
In Glorious Appearing, there are two different groups of believers – Enoch and his followers as compared to Chaim, Ray, Abdullah and the remaining soldiers of God. Strozier’s connection between violence and paranoia can clearly be seen in both groups, albeit in different ways. Continue reading →
In his concluding essays, Strozier presents a very thorough analysis of the various tenets of apocalyptic fundamentalism and how they influence the overall doomsday mindset that has prevailed in society. It is interesting to trace Strozier’s didactic approach to understanding the fundamentalist way of thought. His previous readings writings introudced us to the dualism and particular psychology associated with apocalyptic violence. In his later essays, Strozier narrows his argument by linking the root of violence to paranoia. Continue reading →
Perhaps an idea about apocalyptic thought I have found most confounding—and intriguing—has been the sheer amount of thirst, or want, or desire, call it what you will, associated with believers in seeing, living, and experiencing the day of doom. End time scenarios are never quite pleasant—they always involve some degree of torment, of pain and suffering, and certainly lie in stark contrast to what we might envision as a narrative of life, love, or tolerance that might be (naively, perhaps) expected out of those claiming the Gospels as their gospel. Continue reading →