Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2003
Revelation challenges believers
Apocalypse Recalled: The Book of Revelation after Christendom, Harry O. Maier. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, Minn. 2003. 271 pages. Trade Papercover.
Review by WAYNE HOLST
"Apocalypse gave me eyes to see the world."
- Harry Maier
When his family talked of such things, it would bring back memories of old country experiences. Maier heard about the terror and horror of exploding bombs, and of how the earth shakes and the sky screams during an air raid. These stories were told by parents and grandparents with an immediacy that conveyed they had happened recently.
"Apocalypse gave me eyes to see the world," writes the author who believes that the book of Revelation, far from something to be avoided, is a book to be understood by Christians living in modern times.
Maier believes that Revelation is not only worth studying in depth, but, more importantly, that it forms an indispensable resource for helping First World Christians find their place in the contemporary world and to reflect on the role the Church is to play in Canadian society.
Apocalypse Recalled captures the excitement of Revelation for readers who might be inclined to ignore this last entry into the biblical canon.
While Revelation tends to intimidate the Christian mainstream, the public secular imagination is profoundly captivated by apocalyptic themes.
The popularity of the TV series, the X-Files, movies like The Matrix and the Left Behind series written by La Haye and Jenkins, bear witness to significant popular interest in such biblical subjects.
Maier's study won a first place award last June for best book in leadership and philosophy at the Canadian Christian Writers Competition at the 19th God Uses Ink conference in Guelph, Ont.
"The book of Revelation has often been read as a set of end time scenarios, glorifying a vengeful God and predicting and even fomenting apocalyptic violence. Yet it continues to exert a profound hold on the dreams and visions, fears and nightmares of our contemporary, First World, secular culture," writes Maier.
The author insists that, however much one is skeptical of its misuse or awed by its influence, Revelation still harbours a powerful and important message for Christians today.
Avoiding both the dry bookishness of an academic, and the superficial experience-based approach employed by too many modern communicators, Maier writes with both a wealth of reading in many fields as well as deeply personal insights.
This is not a book that speculates about the end of the world. Nor was it written to provide comfort for Christians who see society going to hell in a handbasket.
The book of Revelation was written to challenge Christians who are too enthusiastic supporters of the economic and military might of today's Superpower, just as it was first written to confront the Roman Empire of its day.
Maier believes that his experience as a young German Lutheran immigrant growing up in post-World War Two Alberta, gives him a perspective that can help many Canadian Christians deal with today's spiritual challenges.
"The task of the sidelined Christian Church is not to transform or manage culture," he says, "but to trouble it."
Apocalypse Recalled seeks to liberate the imprisoned John of Patmos and use his influential and controversial text to awaken a sleeping, culturally assimilated Church to follow the Christ revealed in the sidelined book of Revelation.
(Wayne Holst is a parish educator at St. David's United Church, Calgary.)
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.