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In terms of watching the media, one of the weirdest experiences I had was to see, on the ABC News, an immediate breaking from the Declaration of a Global Emergency of the World Health Organisation, on the Coronavirus Outbreak, to the Declaration of a State of Emergency from the Australian Capital Territory in relation to catastrophic bushfires; the worse threatening since 2003. The extensive reporting then went on to the high-level records predicted in the heatwave across south-eastern Australia.  On Sunday, Morrison’s Pentecostal churches will be packed out.

 

The jest is not to take our apocalypse in a mocking tone. I am not being ‘unserious’. It is extremely serious.  There is a fundamental issue on belief and doubt. The apocalypse is not been understood because the general population are too slow in comprehending the relevant histories – environmental histories, and intellectual histories around how modern people perceive the world.  It is an apocalypse, but not how generally (conventional) Christians have thought-out that (evolving) Ideal. Biblical studies – in the popular places – have been so distorted by their own ideologies:  American revivalism, British utilitarian liberalism, and more generally European Protestantism. There are so many historians who made these critiques that, for a blog, why should I make a 50 page bibliography? (I will get to the task in time; ask me if you do want references).

 

‘Secular’ believers also have a poor understanding of the apocalypse, although the scientists are giving us the best descriptions and explanations.  The contrarian’s global skepticism is plainly stupidity. It sets up the expectation of perfect information or data before making the judgement of concern or even bare interest …even that the contrarian does not cares about anyone but their own sophistic arguments. As Timothy Fitzgerald (Discourse on Civility and Barbarity, 2007) has explained, the problem is that the religion-secular dichotomous categories are constructed for understanding the modern world. In considering that intellectual construction, it becomes clear that that there are multiple factors about the world which have been misunderstood; misunderstood on a wider unfolding horizon. Such a historiography breaks each of the ideological bubbles (listed above; and others as well), as we are prepared to step back from our gaze and apply both critical and empathetic tools. The ideologies are more usually seen as ‘secular’ but that only continues the bubble-thinking. Fitzgerald points to the problem of essentialisation in these ideas; there is a failure in not having adequate self-criticism about the constructed nature of our paradigm. For myself, my historical work has had the general point that belief and doubt are two sides of the same coin. There is also a failure to understand the argument of the other because we construct the appearance of their argument within our own paradigm. If it does not fit, we reject it in total.  That is, unless we are prepared to see such arguments in a wider unfolding horizon. The apocalypse is like a wider unfolding horizon. We see it now, visually, in the Australian bushfires. It is about perception, but it is about perception that moves towards to an interpersonal, inclusive, reality (Jack McKinney, The Structure of Modern Thought, 1971).

 

The past is too often misunderstood because both self-describing secularists and religionists see multiple factors to their liking, but there is a failure to understand theoretical constructions which shape perception. The modern world has become a place to poo-poo education, learning, and anything ‘too abstract’. These disciplines, however, are what we most need to deal with the apocalypse. It is not about the end of the world, or at least not the ending in the fanciful drama of our imagination. Almost never does expectations turnout as exactly planned.  The apocalypse is about planning in the best knowledge available, and this is the realm of experts (plural). I believe in the experts, not because they cannot be wrong, but because truth and knowledge works only in a fair and multiple level (factors) construction. Any criticism comes within that wider unfolding horizon. I believe there are large-scale emergencies, national and global.  I believe in expertise which works collegially. It is imperfectly perceived but it exist as a horizon that surrounding all of us, and it is never static. To the global skepticism of the contrarian which objects that there is insufficient objectivity within the horizon, I can only say, you have put yourself beyond reach…in ‘outer space’.

 

 

 

 

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Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He was a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch was the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and was a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.

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