Revenge is a genre best served old: Apocalypse in Christian Right literature and politics

Date

2021

Authors

Douglas, Christopher

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Religions

Abstract

Apocalypse is a phenomenology of disorder that entails a range of religious affects and experiences largely outside normative expectations of benevolent religion. Vindication, judgment, revenge, resentment, righteous hatred of one’s enemies, the wish for their imminent destruction, theological certainty, the triumphant display of right authority, right judgement, and just punishment—these are the primary affects. As a literary genre and a worldview, apocalypse characterizes both the most famous example of evangelical fiction—the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins—and the U.S. Christian Right’s politics. This article’s methodological contribution is to return us to the beginnings of apocalypse in Biblical and parabiblical literature to better understand the questions of theodicy that Left Behind renews in unexpected ways. Conservative white Christians use apocalypse to articulate their experience as God’s chosen but persecuted people in a diversely populated cosmos, wherein their political foes are the enemies of God. However strange the supersessionist appropriation, apocalypse shapes their understanding of why God lets them suffer so—and may also signal an underlying fear about the power and attention of their deity.

Description

Keywords

apocalypse, Christian Right, Left Behind, Bible, monotheism, polytheism, theodicy, evangelical, fundamentalism, suffering, religious violence, power, evil

Citation

Douglas, C. (2021). “Revenge is a genre best served old: Apocalypse in Christian Right literature and politics.” Religions, 13(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13010021