By Matt Holzapfel
Ever wondered why there’s such a large number of people who believe in the coming apocalypse? Now might just be the best chance to find out. Elon University will be hosting an apocalypse-based symposium called “On the Edge of Apocalypse: New Directions in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion” on February 9-11 in the Numen Lumen Multifaith Center on campus. 11 scholars from the United States and Canada will speak on their how humans have been exploring the edges of apocalyptic thought and practice for years.
Apocalyptic thought is the idea that the world will come to an end due to violent, and even cataclysmic causes. This ideology often involves God appearing on Earth or possibly even sending some “deputies” to “crush evil-doers.” Brian Pennington is the director of Elon’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society (CSRCS) and a professor of religious studies at the university. The CSRCS is sponsoring the symposium as well as hosting the scholars from the talk. “Elon is committed to educating the community about the role of religious ideas in society to advance research by both students and faculty,” says Pennington. “This symposium is an opportunity for Elon faculty to collaborate with other academics from the U.S. and Canada on a common research project.” As part of the symposium, Elon will be holding a “poster session” in which Elon students who are doing religious research can get feedback on their own projects.
“The 11 scholars who are participating are from all over North America,” noted Brian Pennington. “Together we are collaborating on a book about apocalypticism.” Pennington also admitted that while some of the presentations and ensuing discussions may not be the general audience’s cup of tea, there will be a keynote address by David Cook of Rice University (http://blogs.elon.edu/ontheedge/keynote) taking place on the first day of presentations (February 9th) that he wants all Elon students, faculty, and the general public to attend. For more information about the On the Edge of Apocalypse symposium go to http://blogs.elon.edu/ontheedge/