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xiii + 232 pp.

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Network Apocalypse

Visions of the End in an Age of Internet Media

Edited by Robert Glenn Howard

In the twenty-first century, religious belief is undergoing change, driven in part by new communication technologies. Such technologies have often given rise to notable changes in religion, some of the most revolutionary of them being apocalyptic in character. What, then, is the nature of the changes in religious belief created or enabled by the Internet?

In this collection, the first of its kind, nine scholars consider whether the empowerment offered by Internet communication generally encourages the exchange of ideas or whether, rather, it allows individuals to seal themselves off into ideological ghettos of the like-minded. These nine essays explore those possibilities by documenting and analysing the diversity of apocalyptic belief online.

Andrew Fergus Wilson looks at those using the Internet to explore the syncretism that lies at the heart of the ‘cultic milieu’. William A. Stahl examines the online discourse about climate change to find the apocalyptic structures undergirding it. Dennis Beesley examines End Times discourse on the video sharing Web site YouTube. J.L. Schatz explores how the apocalyptic imaginings of science fiction set the trajectory of our shared future. Amarnath Amarasingam documents how the Internet is encouraging the belief that President Barack Obama is the Antichrist. Salvador Jimenez Murguia analyses an Internet-based service offered to those wishing to communicate with their loved ones who might be ‘left behind’ after the anticipated ‘Rapture’. David Drissel documents how social networking facilitates connections among Muslims who share a belief in a nearing apocalypse. James Schirmer examines an apocalyptic computer game individuals use to explore personal ethics. Robert Glenn Howard documents the first Internet-based new religious movement—reflected in the beliefs of the suicidal 1997 ‘Heaven’s Gate’ group, extant in their archived websites.

This is the third volume in the series Apocalypse and Popular Culture; see also (1) Walliss and Quinby, Reel Revelations, (2) Gribben and Sweetnam, Left Behind and the Evangelical Imagination, (4) Partridge, Anthems of Apocalypse, (5) Clanton, The End Will Be Graphic, and (6) Aston and Walliss, Small Screen Revelations.

Robert Glenn Howard is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Director of Digital Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Series: Bible in the Modern World, 36
978-1-907534-13-3 hardback
Publication May 2011

Robert Glenn Howard
Visions of the End in an Age of Internet Media


1. Andrew Fergus Wilson
On the Outskirts of the New Global Village:
Computer-mediated Prophecy and the Digital Afterlife

2. William A. Stahl
From Peak Oil to the Apocalypse:
Cultural Myths and the Public Understanding of Scientific Models

3. Dennis Beesley
YouTube and Apocalyptic Rhetoric:
Broadcasting Yourself to the Ends of the World

4. Joseph N. Leeson-Schatz
Projects of Control and Termination:
Transcendence in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


5. Amarnath Amarasingam
Baracknophobia and the Paranoid Style:
Visions of Obama as the Anti-Christ on the World Wide Web

6. Salvador Jimenez Murguia
Rationalization of the Rapture:
The Culture of Managing Risk on the Website

7. David Drissel
Pan-Islamist Networks of the Apocalypse:
Mobilizing Diasporic Muslim Youth on Facebook

8. James Robert Schirmer
‘We All Stray from our Paths Sometimes’:
Morality and Survival in Fallout 3

9. Robert Glenn Howard
The Media-savvy Ritual Suicides:
How the Heaven’s Gate Group Co-opted Institutional Media and Created a New Tradition