Monsters of Munster: Lessons From the Apocalyptic Narrative of the Anabaptist Kingdom - Brutal Violence from Collective Madness, Collective Identity and Religion Shaping Group Internal Dynamics

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This fascinating and richly detailed December 2017 report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction.

This study examines the role of apocalyptic narrative in shaping collective identity and collective action to help better understand groups that turn to violence. Because such narratives deal with the ultimate and supernatural, they can be effective in causing believers to disregard worldly consequences and forgo worldly benefits to support transcendent goals. In the Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster (1533-1535), a certain apocalyptic narrative developed that led to brutal acts of violence within the city, and a desire to spread the kingdom to the entire world. Several prominent elements in the kingdom's narrative developed over time to justify the Anabaptists' use of violence: (1) the arrival of the time of judgment, (2) a clear distinction between those who require judgment and those who do not, (3) a divinely sanctioned administration, and (4) a call for the group to administer justice on earth. These elements were not the inevitable result of starting with an apocalyptic narrative but were shaped by both internal dynamics and external conflict. By understanding how such elements develop, defense practitioners will be better able to exploit certain internal dynamics and anticipate (or even alter) how their confrontations with such groups affect the development of the narrative.

With the rise of al-Qaeda and its attack on September 11, religiously motivated violence has been the subject of numerous recent academic studies. More recently, the Islamic State (IS) has brought attention to the role of apocalyptic beliefs in motivating violent acts. However, history demonstrates that both religious violence and apocalyptic beliefs are clearly not a new phenomenon, and not isolated to Islam. Thus, it is helpful to examine cases that fall outside our contemporary environment to better understand the causes of religious violence and avoid falsely attributing the violence to factors unique to our situation. The Munster Rebellion during the Radical Reformation in early sixteenth-century Europe provides a case in which an apocalyptic narrative motivated brutality and violence within the city of Munster. This thesis examines this particular apocalyptic narrative to increase our understanding of apocalyptic narratives in general—both how they develop and how they impact a group's identity and collective action—especially those narratives that motivate violence.

I. INTRODUCTION * II. NARRATIVE * A. NARRATIVE, PERSONHOOD, AND HUMAN MEANING * 1. Narrative and Human Meaning * 2. Narrative and Personal Identity * B. NARRATIVE, RELIGION, AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITY * 1. Religious Narrative and Collective Identity * 2. Polarization and Radicalization * C. NARRATIVE AND COLLECTIVE ACTION * 1. Narrative and Social Movement Theory * 2. Political Philosophy and Ideology * 3. The Role of Religious Narrative in Collective Action * III. APOCALYPTIC NARRATIVE * A. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF APOCALYPTIC NARRATIVE * B. THE APOCALYPSE, CHRISTIANITY, AND THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION * 1. Christianity and Apocalyptic Expectation * 2. Signs of the End of the Age during the Reformation * IV. APOCALYPTIC NARRATIVE AND THE ANABAPTIST KINGDOM OF MUNSTER * A. THE REFORMATION IN MUNSTER * 1. Typical Nature of the Reformation in Munster * 2. Anabaptism in Munster * B. THE APOCALYPTIC NARRATIVE IN MUNSTER * 1. Melchior Hoffman and Anabaptist Apocalyptic Beliefs * 2. Apocalyptic Narrative and the Anabaptist Rise to Power * 3. The Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster * V. ANALYSIS, CONCLUSIONS, AND LESSONS LEARNED * A. ELEMENTS OF THE ANABAPTIST NARRATIVE * 1. The Time of God's Judgment * 2. Defining the Wicked and the Faithful

Politik und Zeitgeschehen
12. Juli
Progressive Management

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