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Apocalpyse, not!

[ by Charles Cameron — in using the word apocalyptic to describe mundane (or zombied) disturbances such as Brexit, we lose sight of the beauty and mystery it conceals & reveals ]

In fact, not so much as a whiff of fresh napalm in the morning.

Tim Furnish has been on a mini-crusade recently against the misuse of the word apocalypse, tweeting examples along with this meme-image:

Furnish Apocalypse N0


Here are two examples of the genre. which Tim featured last night because each comments on Brexit in apocalyptic terms:

Apocalypse No


  • Financial Post, Trump, Clinton and Brexit — the three horses of democracy’s Apocalypse
  • Japan Times, Brexit: The Apocalypse … or not
  • **

    Tim is right.

    The word apocalypse properly refers the vision John, the seer of Patmos, had, tearing away of the veil which so often hides the divine glory from mortal eyes: the Greek word apokalypsis is appropriately translated revelation, and the first verse of the book called The Apocalypse by Catholics and The Revelation of John in the King James Version runs as follows:

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.


    Consider the beauty — and the otherworldiness — of this image from Albrecht Durer. illustrating the “woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” of Revelation 12.1



    The imagery of this final book of the Bible does not show us the usual world of our senses, but a realm of great symbolic beauty, far beyond the reach of unaided eye or camera — as the great literary critic Northrop Frye notes, when he calls the book “a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, a hero killing dragons, a wicked witch, and a wonderful city glittering with jewels” in his Anatomy of Criticism, p 108.

    Like the works of the English visionary William Blake, Revelation is more poetic than literal, visionary in the best sense — and it is hardly surprising that Blake is among its foremost illustrators:

    Blake, Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne, The Tate Gallery

    Brexit simply cannot match the darkness of Revelation’s Babylon in its final throes, nor the “new heaven and new earth” that succeed it — “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”.

    5 Responses to “Apocalpyse, not!”

    1. Timothy Furnish Says:

      I take umbrage at reducing my crusades against over/wrong use of the term “apocalyptic” to simply “mini-” status!

    2. Timothy Furnish Says:

      By the way: I created that meme some weeks ago just for this crusade!

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi, Tim —
      Let me relieve you of your umbrage! I only referred to this particular crusade of your as “mini” by implicit contrast with your “maxi” crusade against violent contemporary jihadism, the mahdist and caliphal impulses that so often accompany, drive and exacerbate it, and our willingness to ignore or misunderstand it..

    4. Timothy Furnish Says:

      Whew! Thanks!

    5. Scott Says:

      Like so many other words in the English language, this one has been beaten to death. I know it’s a “living language”, but I wonder if we will ever again have words that just mean what they mean, without being used for hyperbole now that we have the World Wide Web?

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