And the walls came down

“The scriptural emphasis on warfare has armed successive generations with powerful mental images of an embattled world. The community of the faithful is perpetually in crisis or at its edge. When a religious group believes that its identity is fundamentally threatened, it may turn to stories of apocalypse that describe the end of earthly history. In Christian apocalypses, Jesus is not the pacifist messiah of the Gospels, but a man of war. . . . In Christian and Jewish apocalyptic literature—exactly as in the Muslim literature, which is based largely on the earlier-born faiths—the reversal of fortune is a stock theme. The righteous advance from suffering under the murderous rule of a terrible beast to a restored community of believers who enjoy eternal life in the presence of God. The transforming event is the destruction of the beast, followed by the annihilation of Satan and death at the hands of a heavenly figure sent by God. . . . In times of severe social dislocation, political change, and economic upheaval, individuals overwhelmed by radical pessimism may turn to apocalyptic millenarianism. They see the signs that their tradition has identified as portents of the end of time. The tribulation they experience is interpreted as the era of cataclysms that precedes the eruption of a new order and God’s reassertion of his beneficent rule. When these individuals merge into groups and find a charismatic leader, or he finds them, they can be stirred to dramatic action intended to force the end of time and the kingdom of God.” – Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror

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