A violent turn in 2012 apocalypticism

2012: Doomsday (2008) – another forgettable film in a cultural imaginary that is closing in on its final doom.

Finally it has happened: the first report of a 2012-apocalypse movement turning violent. The so-called “2012 phenomenon”, an occultural apocalyptic mythology with roots in the psychedelic gnosis of Terrence McKenna, the New Age prophesies of José Argüelles, and creative fringe-archaeological interpretations of the Maya “Long Count” calendar, has for the most part been oriented towards peaceful prophecies of a “global change in consciousness” or a “massive awakening”. But with countless improvisations on the theme by UFO-logists, conspiracy theorists, survivalists, and other denizens of the  darker segments of occulture, grimmer visions are hardly difficult to come by. Often enough, the boundaries between “positive”  expectations of global consciousness change (or the messianic arrival of friendly ETs) and the “negative” expectation of polar shifts, massive geological destruction, or the final enslavement of humanity by evil aliens, is not that easy to draw. What happens if the promised change for the better does not occur? What are the strategies of rationalizing such an (after all, realistically anticipated) theodicy? Could it be that the evil aliens are already here, and always were, working  in secret with the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Bilderbergers and the world’s shadow governments to thwart the promised salvation?

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Launching ContERN with a Google group and a Call for Papers

As announced previously, a new network has been created with the aim of placing the field of contemporary esotericism clearly on the agenda of academic research: the Contemporary Esotericism Research Network, or ContERN for short (no connection with the Third International, we promise…). It is affiliated with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), and everyone who participate in our activities is encouraged to become a member of that organisation (which can be done by applying online here).

There is currently a Google group which will work as a mailing list and discussion forum for the network (click here to sign up), and also a Facebook group for easy communication.

As the description on the Google group reads:

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Terror in the Mind of Who? A response to Mark Juergensmeyer on Breivik’s Christianity (and much besides)

The question of whether or not, or in what sense, the 22/7 Oslo terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is a “Christian”, and to what extent his Christianity had anything to do with his motivations to kill, has stirred up some debate. In my first post on Breivik I referred to sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne’s refutation of the “Christian Fundamentalist” label, a label that really makes very little sense. More recently, however, other scholars of religion have insisted on emphasising Breivik’s Christianity, although refraining from categorizing it as Fundamentalism. At the University of Chicago the well-known American historian of religion Martin E. Marty writes about Breivik the Protestant. Meanwhile, another American scholar of note, Mark Juergensmeyer, insists that we see Breivik as a “Christian terrorist”.

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Fiction, Templars, and Terrorism

Heresy Corner has a good post on the Templar theme in Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto. It particularly discusses the author’s ambiguous claim that the whole thing is to be read as “fictional” (scare-quotes in the original). Opening the post with a quote from Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum sets the right tone from the start:

“The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”

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Contemporary Esotericism – a pre-production advertisement

One of the reasons for not writing here very often this spring is that I am co-editing a major volume in my “spare time”. Last week I visited my good friend, colleague and co-editor Kennet Granholm at Stockholm University, to discuss some final issues. This weekend, we ship the manuscript off to Equinox Publishing – a full 689  pages – ending a period with much editorial work. To celebrate this, I’ll kick off some pre-production advertising of the volume, which bears the title Contemporary Esotericism.

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