3.1. Ann Lee, Shakerism and the apocalypse of sex

3.1. ANN LEE, SHAKERISM AND THE APOCALYPSE OF SEX

In the 18th century European society was unquestionably masculine, dominated in all aspects by men. Religiously speaking, suggesting at the time that women were spiritually equal to men was a sort of blasphemy, the main argument being Eve’s weakness. According to the English journalist Samuel Johnson, the activity of women preachers was more a circus than a sermon in the real sense of the word: “A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.”997 Yet, one of the boldest and most original dissident groups of the period was led by a woman.

Ann Lee was a victim of the environment in which she lived. The second in a family of eight brothers, she was born in 1736 in a poor district of Manchester, England. Her father was a blacksmith whose modest income hardly fed the family. At the age of eight she was employed in a textile mill, and a couple of years later she served as a cook at the public infirmary and at the madhouse. Manchester was an overpopulated and unhealthy city, with streets full of filth and poverty. The poor workers – including her father – were suppressing their

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3.3.1. The Antichrist

3.3.1. The Antichrist

According to the dominant Christian view, toward the end of time mankind will undergo a process of decadent evolution marked by sufferings, pain, wars, earthquakes, floods, fire, diseases, famine, corruption and ultimately the apogee of all evils in the person of the Antichrist, the supreme tyrant. The advent of the Antichrist signifies the culmination of the moral degradation, a mundane state in which the sin will be so strongly rooted in human society that divine intervention will be necessary for the reestablishment of order and the salvation of the world from obliteration.

The Antichrist is a fascinating entity. His tremendous power, his dreadful darkness and the major role he will have in history have inflamed the imagination of the Christian theologians and fueled endless speculations. The Antichrist is probably the most debated apocalyptic entity, for three reasons: his advent in the world precedes the Second Coming of Christ, the fate of the Antichrist is to be defeated by Christ, and the Book of Revelation

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3.2. The central point of Christian eschatology: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

3.2. THE CENTRAL POINT OF CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

Much of the Christian doctrine was conceived during the dark times of the Roman persecution and of the Middle Ages. Therefore, the dominant Christian point of view depicts a human order deeply and hopelessly wrong, decadent, beyond human powers of correction. Yet, the end of the world is not a divine punishment for the sins of humanity, but its salvation from self-destruction and the hope of a better world; it is not an apogee of God’s anger and retribution, but the fulfillment of the love story between God, the Creator, and mankind, his Creation.

According to the Book of Genesis, the existing human order was born out of sin. When Adam and Eve, the primordial people, bit the fruit of knowledge, they disobeyed God’s commandment, they committed a sin and were banished from Paradise to the earth. As a result, the relation between Creator and Creation became disharmonious; the Creation came to experience good and evil, took an unstable nature and started to suffer transformations. The committing of original sin led to the perpetuation of the dual knowledge toward the descendants of the primordial couple and the birth of a world dominated by spiritual and material instability. Good and evil became defining parts of man, every moment of his life being

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