Most people aren’t preoccupied with Satan, demons, or the end of the world. But like it or not, many Americans are greatly concerned with these topics. A 2010 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of white evangelical Christian adults surveyed believed that Jesus Christ would return to the earth within the next 40 years. That was significantly higher than any other religious group. Just 32 percent of Catholic respondents agreed, for instance.
Speculating about how the world ends is probably as old as humanity itself. It was pivotal to the early formation and growth of Christianity as early leaders of the faith frequently suggested that the Second Coming of Jesus would happening in their lifetimes.
But over time as those hundreds of predictions fail to come true, the End Times literary tradition faded away in Christianity. It returned with a vengeance in the mid-20th century after the development of nuclear weapons, however.
Interestingly enough, while the evangelical apocalypse tradition is associated with far-right politics today, it was not nearly so politicized in the early 1970s.
Featured in this episode is Christopher Douglas, a professor of English at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He is also the author of If God Meant to Interfere: American Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right.
(This episode was previously released October 22, 2021, but is such an important one that we’re highlighting it again this week.)
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