Edited By Mascha Hansen and Jürgen Klein
MIRACLE VERSUS MAYHEM: DISTURBANCES OF THE FUTURE IN A LONG EIGHTEENTH CENTURY THAT THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE SHORT, Kevin L. Cope
MIRACLE VERSUS MAYHEM: DISTURBANCES OF THE FUTURE IN A LONG EIGHTEENTH CENTURY THAT THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE SHORT Kevin L. Cope, Louisiana State University It is an unfortunate feature of our times as well as a lamentable fate for the legs if not the legacy of Scotland that, whenever something both unpredictable and bad happens, one or more kilt-clad, bagpipe-billowing, would-be Scotsmen from Hollywood or Hong Kong inevitably appear out of nowhere to offer a slow- tempo rendering of Amazing Grace. Whenever the apocalyptical horsemen fin- ish trampling through town dispensing their assorted plagues, it is seldom long before ad hoc highlanders with stony visages come trotting along behind said horsemen’s tails, pinching a windpipe between grimaced lips and puffing up an air of deep melancholy in exchange for shortbread and honoraria. Few who have witnessed the routinization of grief in our sincerity-obsessed society have paused to reflect on the concluding verse of the world’s most famous multi- purpose lamentation and hymn: When we've been here ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to sing God's praise Than when we've first begun.1 Despite having lived a life characterized by wild vacillations of fortune as well as by a penchant for befriending lunatics, Reverend John Newton, the author of this lyric and presumably the “wretch” whom God saves in the first verse, ima- gines a perfectly stable if mathematically puzzling celestial habitat in which the infinite future count of happy heavenly days never varies. With the...
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