Monday, February 28, 2011

Revelation as Script

Apocalyptic literature is fascinating because it is written in code. Part of the reason why people can interpret apocalyptic literature as being portents to current events is because the language is intentionally vague to the point of disarticulating specific references into emotionally charged essences, that not only hearken back to writers who would be well known among their select group, but use a collapsed set of symbols to convey direct meanings in a round about yet pointed way.

What's interesting is that Revelation was written by St John the Divine obviously sometime shortly after the reign of Nero, since he is implicitly mentioned by the Mark of the Beast. During Nero's reign, Christians were openly persecuted, being blamed for a great fire that many believed Nero himself set. He was a vicious and cruel man who willing to murder anyone who stood in his way, and the Christians made an easy scapegoat, so they were rounded up and publicly executed.

The fact that this text in essence looms over the unfolding of our history, it is no exaggeration to assume that those who take it literally, or understand it as a prediction, are stuck in the role of the viciously oppressed minority of a world that is beginning to come true.

We in essence, when accepting this book, are taking on the lenses of spectacles that are still emotionally charged with the baggage of a community still reeling from the grief of its losses. There is a great hatred for the world in which the writer finds himself situated, and a great desire to see it destroyed.

The effect it has as a code is to write a script. And this is a script now that is being partially written by scientists with doomsday scenarios concerning global warning.

The question that I've always pondered, is how do our myths write our history and in a broader sense, can they, and I do not mean myth in the pejorative sense of a falsehood. I think in the case of Revelation, its unfortunate placement at the end of the Bible, ensured that those memories would forever direct our energies. It trained us to see inhumanity where there was wickedness and gave us the justification to punish those who challenge our power as enemies of God.

In essence, Revelation is a repository for rage, which was at one time justified. Projected through the lens of the future, it becomes a never ending war against not only the oppressors, but all that they stood for.

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