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Richard Landes answers, ‘Was Katrina a sign of apocalypse?’

Richard Landes answers, ‘Was Katrina a sign of apocalypse?’

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BU’s Richard Landes, professor of history and director and co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies, was quoted Oct. 8 in an Associated Press Story by Otis Hart, published in The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash. in a story asking

Does Katrina qualify as apocalypse?

Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, make for ideal latter-day fodder.

Richard Landes, a Boston University professor and expert in millennial studies, doesn’t believe the world will end any time soon. But the apocalypse? That’s debatable.

Landes notes in his essay “Roosters Crow, Owls Hoot: On the Psychology of Apocalyptic Millennialism” that there are two ways to view the apocalypse. The first is cataclysmic, a violent shift that rids mankind of infidels and leaves the righteous to rule the world. The second is transformational, a much more likely – if ambiguous – scenario where the world is forever changed.

“Apocalypse means revelation, and what happened in New Orleans was revelatory,” Landes said. “Everyone is walking away with new insights."