Are millenial movements obsessed with death?
The Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate
Vol. 2, no. 1, pages 12-22
Bo van Broekhoven
University College Utrecht
The symbolic power of death has been described by Mircea Eliade (1959; 1968) and Maurice Bloch (1992) as an expression of a longing for the end of a certain way of life. Bloch connects millennialism and potentially violent or terrorist actions by emphasizing the role that (symbolic) violence plays in the critical socio-political aspect to millennial beliefs. Eliade, in contrast to most scholars on millennialism, considers millennialism to be a normal phenomenon, a logical expressionof human nature. Two millennial movements, the Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate, as well as their violent ends are examined in detail to determine the extent to which Eliade and Bloch’s theories apply to them.