Apocalyptic Thinking in American Culture

Via the BBC:

“In America, everyone believes in the apocalypse: The only question is whether Jesus or global warming will get here first.”

That’s how Mathew Barrett Gross, co-author of The Last Myth: What the Rise of Apocalyptic Teaching Tells Us About America introduces the short video ‘America’s Fascination with the Apocalypse’

To say that everyone in America believes in the apocalypse is probably stretching it a bit, but it’s undeniable that it is a recurrent theme in American culture.

Watch ‘America’s Fascination with the Apocalypse’, courtesy of the BBC:

America’s Fascination With The Apocalypse from David Eckenrode on Vimeo.

Read more at the BBC.

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19 Responses to Apocalyptic Thinking in American Culture

  1. Liam_McGonagle July 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    As Jung might say, it’s the Shadow manifestation of America’s simplistic mythology of an autocratic deity .  There just needs to be an acceptable outlet to express our fascination with the forces of decay and upheaval implied by contrast through descriptions of the omnipotent ‘Good’ God.

    We need to explain not only how we got to the inferior state of affairs we’re experiencing now, but also to hold out hope for some confirmatory experience to justify belief in a deity so totally at odds with that experience.

    • Anonydude July 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

       I tend to think it has more to do with the rampant materialism of our culture, and the inner, somewhat repressed or subconscious desire to escape it. Apocalyptic thinking finds itself in the minds of secular as well as religious Americans. For the religious, its basis may be more, well, religious. For the more secular individuals, it may come more from an anti-materialist place, but I think in both cases it’s exacerbated by materialism and the distortion of values and priorities and sense of alienation that come from it.

      • Liam_McGonagle July 31, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

        I’ve often thought that the bizarre insistance of Fundies on inserting a literal, visible hand of God into any explanation of the origin of the universe and mankind reveals them as essentially materialistic.

  2. The Baffler July 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Oh, I know for a fact the world will end. I won’t speculate much, but it has to do with the Sun, and how it’s not going to be main sequence forever.

  3. Andrew July 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    I believe apocalyptic thinking is due to a hatred of reality and a wish for it to be destroyed, I suspect the vast majority of people subconsciously hate reality, and I believe in most cases that hatred is justified.

  4. BuzzCoastin July 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Apocalyptic Thinking goes back to the Book of Revelation
    the Paul character in the New Testament is expecting the end any day
    so Apocalyptic Thinking is hardly new or exclusively ah’Merkin

    but just because you’re paranoid about the Apocalypse 
    doesn’t mean it’s not gonna happen
    someday soon
    KA BOOM!
     

  5. brock July 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    We all have our own little personal apocalypses to look forward to some day so it’s only natural that we’d want to share that event with the rest of the world.

    • Zenc July 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Or as I sometimes say “Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around”.

      • Anarchy Pony August 1, 2012 at 12:03 am #

        Okay Calvin.

    • Anarchy Pony July 31, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      That’s something I’ve thought about before, the idea that people are taking the conception of their own inevitable, eventual death and projecting it outward to create a “death” for the world. I’m not sure how valid that is, but I think it is at least a factor.

      • Jin The Ninja July 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

        it’s a valid consideration. think of the social implications of the christian armegeddon.
        the save get saved and the sinners get slaughtered. i think it’s at least part of the overall trend.

      • Calypso_1 July 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

        It’s very valid.

  6. Zenc July 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Normally I get all kinds of grief because I buy into neither Jesus nor AGW, so I can see how the average person might be cowed into accepting either (and its concomitant eschatology) as a function of just trying to get along in the world.

    Funny how belief in either one generally seems to inoculate against a belief in the other.

    Hmmm….

  7. Anarchy Pony July 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    America was first colonized by the apocalyptic cult called the Puritans. 

  8. Calypso_1 July 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Apocalyptic thinking will be the worlds doom. 
    That’s why I try to engender Calyptic thinking.

    • Matt Staggs August 1, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks for the tip on that. Added to my wishlist.

  9. Nephilim August 1, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    The authors forgot to mention the GD government.  More worried about them than the most dubious book in the Canonical Bible, or the Global Warming Farce.  And besides, it’s not Global Warming anymore, it is now Climate Change, and for good reason

  10. Nephilim August 1, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    The authors forgot to mention the GD government.  More worried about them than the most dubious book in the Canonical Bible, or the Global Warming Farce.  And besides, it’s not Global Warming anymore, it is now Climate Change, and for good reason

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