At the heart of Apocalypse is one recurring theme: The modern world is in crisis because men and women have lost their power of directly experiencing and participating in the power and vitality of the cosmos. They are cut off from the source of their being. This “long, slow death of the human being” began in the time of Socrates and Jesus and continued throughout Christian history. The book of Revelation, however, stands at a crossroad; it contains the remnants of the pagan universe which the Christians attempted to destroy, and it still has power to stimulate its readers, through its pregnant symbolism, into a new way of perceiving and experiencing.
Lawrence thinks habitually in terms of dualities and correspondences; they are the basic elements around which his entire argument revolves. First, he divides Christianity into two distinct and contradictory camps: the Christianity of Jesus and the Christianity of John, the author of Revelation. The former embodies love and tenderness, meditation, reflection, and service; the latter has none of these qualities but stands for the “self-glorification of the humble.” The first is “thoughtful religion.” It belongs only to individuals (mental aristocrats in Lawrence’s terminology) and is the religion of the strong. The second is “popular religion.” It is nonindividual; it belongs to the mediocre masses, the collective self (democrats), and is the religion of the weak. It embodies the...
(The entire section is 1420 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Apocalypse Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!