In that religio-cultural context one of the key apocalyptic texts has been St.
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John's Book of Revelation. In that piece of literature the Greek word for apocalypse refers to an "unveiling," literally meaning a revelation provided to the reader as a means of providing a sense of peace and purpose to the seeming chaos and social disruption surrounding them. In contemporary popular usage the term "apocalyptic" has moved beyond this specific meaning to serve as a general phrase referring to the End.
Although the Judeo-Christian apocalyptic continues to be popular in various circles, and to exert influence outside of its specific religious context, other visions of apocalypse are found throughout popular culture. Here the context of late modernity or postmodernity puts an interesting twist on apocalyptic myth as it seeks to, as Rosen states, "reject the myth's absolutism or [to] challenge the received systems of morality that underlie it. Having laid her foundation through the Introduction Rosen then explores differing ways in which apocalyptic myths have been explored in popular culture.
Given my personal and academic research interests I appreciated the diversity of cultural sources that she drew upon in consideration of apocalypse, including graphic novels, books, and film. Several case studies in Rosen's exploration were of great interest to me. These include a look at Alan Moore's graphic novel Swamp Thing , which Rosen describes as "a veritable collection of apocalyptic stories," a differing apocalyptic twist in Moore's Watchman graphic novel, Terry Gilliam's films Brazil and 12 Monkeys , and the Wachowski Brothers' Matrix trilogy of films.
Each of Rosen's chapters include a number of interesting ideas for reflection, and while I found several things worth pondering in each chapter referenced in the preceding paragraph, perhaps the most interesting for me was her discussion of Terry Gilliam's apocalyptic. Previously I was unaware that this talented film director and former member of the Monty Python comedy team was raised in a religious family, and that the biblical stories have a continuing influence on him.
Although he views the Bible's imagery, symbolism, myths and moral framework very differently now than he did as a child, Gilliam still draws upon aspects of a biblical world view that is now deconstructed and reimagined. In one particularly striking section of her discussion of Gilliam's apocalyptic, Rosen writes:. And just as the deities in these postmodern recastings of the apocalyptic myth are sometimes doubting and unsure, Gilliam, too, has identified his films as part of his own search for meaning. If you look at everything I've done Perhaps they're really trying to find out what the question is.
I used to think I had the questions and it was just the answers I was searching for.
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But the older I get, the more lost I feel, which stimulates more questioning. As I read through Rosen's book it seemed to me that many evangelicals are likely not even aware of the popularity of apocalypse in the postmodern imagination, and in the variety of ways in which the Judeo-Christian apocalyptic is being deconstructed and reconstructed, and new apocalyptic visions are being created in popular culture.
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