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Abstract

This article explores the psychological meanings of the apocalyptic imagination in what I call a fundamentalist mindset. That mindset has its own long history but is newly relevant in the nuclear age. We no longer need God to bring about ultimate destruction. There are many facets of the fundamentalist mindset (for example, its intense literalism), but the focus in the article is on two: its kairotic sense of time and its rampant paranoia. These two facets interact synergistically around violence that is experienced by those who revel in it as moral in a totalistic sense. Killing becomes healing. The evil other, indeed evil itself, must be totally eradicated. If that can happen as a kind of final solution, the result is ultimate salvation in an apocalyptic remaking of the world. We must understand these dynamics that are all too human but newly significant with the means of such destruction in human hands.

 

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