[FOUNTAIN]Apocalypticism then and nowIn the Bible’s Book of Revelation, there’s a reference to the recording of events in the nonsecular world through mystic storytelling. Among the most famous stories is John’s vision in the New Testatment, a representative one for all mankind.
The Book of Revelation usually entails an apocalyptic worldview where through the struggle of good and evil comes the hope of the rebirth of God and days of glory. One well-known apocalyptic belief is ancient Persia’s Zoroastrianism, which worships fire.
Zoroastrianism pits the world as a struggle between Ahura Mazda, the good god, and Ahriman, the bad god, and stresses posthumous judgment of good and evil deeds. This belief, ultimately, surmises that the good god, Ahura Mazda wins, and all souls are cleansed through fire, and an empire is filled with new justice, happiness and peace.
Academics claim that Zoroastrianism’s end-of-the-world view, in its format, is no different from the apocalyptic worldview illustrated in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Based on these views, there are quite a number of philosophers, both secular and religious, who believe that their people are chosen people. Nikolai Berdyaev, a prolific writer on Christianity in czarist Russia who wrote extensively on the fate of the Russians, records that they are the “most chosen race.”
In the same vein, the phrase “axis of evil” and the “empire of evil” espouses those standing on the other side to defend the world of good, and that they are the forces to enter the glory empire.
The reason for this verbose reference to apocalypticism and John’s Revelation is because of a recent event in the army over the number 666. South Korea’s initial plan of dispatching troops to the war in Iraq said that the South would send 66 officers, 123 deputy officers and 387 soldiers of an engineering battalion, and 38 officers, 26 deputy officers and 36 soldiers of a medical unit. The total is 666.
When the news went out, concerns arose from several sectors of society over sending 666 troops to a war that is labeled as a “clash of civilizations” and a “religious war.”
Was the Ministry of National Defense concerned? Obviously. It has changed the number by adding seven technicians, soldiers who will dig wells. The ministry would do well to exercise heightened alertness to the sensitive issue of dispatching troops.
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.