Living in Expectation of the Millennium: The Image of Millerites and Seventh-day Adventists in Literature (1991)
AuthorsHiggins, Errol Terranceshow all
The aim of this paper is to present, analyse and explain the image of Millerites and Seventh-day Adventists in literature. Most of the authors studied are Americans, but for comparative purposes reference is also made to British and Australian writers. Millennialism and apocalypticism are pervasive themes in both American fiction and Adventist belief. An outline of these subjects is given by way of introduction to the thesis topic. Since Adventists are inexplicable without an understanding of the American culture in which they were nurtured, and by which they continue to be sustained, the literary works which mention them have been related to the historical context. Chapter I details the origin and development of both the Millerite movement and the Seventh-day Adventist Church from the 1840s to the late twentieth century. This provides the setting for and explanation of the religion. Chapter II deals with the "moral approach" which some writers have used in describing Adventists. Despite preaching imminent catastrophe as well as renewal and rebirth only through apocalypse, they have been seen as a virtuous people having moral integrity from which writers can draw important lessons. Chapter III describes the humorous, satirical approach to Adventists includinq recent postmodernist apocalyptic works which use irony as a comical method to depict the church and its followers. Adventists become figures of polarity and radica1 ambiguity. Chapter IV is a study of Adventists presented in literature as caricatures, stereotypes and parodies. Writers set out to debunk and ridicule. It is a convenient strategy for some authors who wish to avoid polemical discussion. Chapter V describes Black writers and Adventism. Over the past sixty years a number of African-American authors with a beckqround in Seventh-day Adventism have published their experience with this religious faith. All writers reject the religion and prefer to embrace the culture of their black heritage. The study silhouettes the difference and similarities among the various writers in the treatment of a single subject.