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Heaven on EarthThe Varieties of the Millennial Experience$
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Richard Landes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753598

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753598.001.0001

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The Varieties of the Millennial Experience

The Varieties of the Millennial Experience

(p.3) 1 The Varieties of the Millennial Experience
Heaven on Earth

Richard Landes

Oxford University Press

This chapter goes into the psychology of apocalyptic believers, the megalomanic (and often paranoid) belief that they are at the center of a cosmic drama, and explores why, despite so many spectacular failures in announcing the coming kingdom of heaven, the belief has not abated even in the modern, “rational,” and secular world. It then offers a set of definitions for terms the book will use repeatedly: apocalyptic, millennial, eschatological. It lays out two sets of variables that allow one to map the phenomena: for millennialism, demotic (egalitarian) versus imperial (hierarchical), progressive versus restorative; for apocalyptic, cataclysmic (violent destruction) versus transformative (change of will), active (human participation) versus passive (divine action).

Keywords:   Augustine, megalomania, paranoia, hidden transcripts, judgment day, eschatology, unintended consequences

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