Religion, Science, and America's Obsession with the End of the World
The book begins with the Millerites, the nineteenth-century religious sect of Pastor William Miller, who used biblical calculations to predict October 22, 1844 as the date for the Second Advent of Christ. Aveni also examines several other religious and philosophical movements that have centered on apocalyptic themes—Christian millennialism, the New Age movement and the Age of Aquarius, and various other nineteenth- and early twentieth-century religious sects, concluding with a focus on the Maya mystery of 2012 and the contemporary prophets who connected the end of the world as we know it with the overturning of the Maya calendar.
Apocalyptic Anxiety places these seemingly never-ending stories of the world’s end in the context of American history. This fascinating exploration of the deep historical and cultural roots of America’s voracious appetite for apocalypse will appeal to students of American history and the histories of religion and science, as well as lay readers interested in American culture and doomsday prophecies.
"Anthony Aveni’s Apocalyptic Anxiety is an astute and engaging guide to the many themes and variations of apocalyptic thinking in American history, and he effectively outlines the basic beliefs at the core of most of these movements. The lessons and parallels he draws are instructive and provide a unique perspective on the hopes and challenges of our day."
"[E]ntertaining, informative, and clearly written . . . . a fascinating, readable, and engaging overview of the lively and varied landscape of American apocalyptic belief."
"Aveni has written an illuminating discussion of 'apocalyptic anxiety,'. . . . Highly recommended."
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