Apocalypse Nowish: The sense of an ending

Michael Robbins in Harper’s Magazine:

I first read the Book of Revelation in a green pocket-size King James New Testament published by the motel missionaries Gideons International. I was in seventh grade. I remember reading the tiny Bible in the hallway outside my chemistry classroom, in which lurked a boy I loathed named Glenn, who would make fun of my Journey T-shirts. It would be years before I really got into Iron Maiden, but at my friend Jonathan’s house I’d heard Barry Clayton’s creepy recitation of Revelation 13:18 on the title track of The Number of the Beast: “Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast: for it is a human number; its number is six hundred and sixty-six.”

I wanted to know what that was all about. My father was so dismissive of any form of religious thought that I was in second grade before I realized that some people believed in the devil, whom I had drawn for an art project. My teacher wouldn’t post my drawing on the wall with the others, on the grounds that it might offend Christian sensibilities, though it was a standard cartoonish red devil with horns, pitchfork, and pointy tail. I was nonplussed: surely Satan was a fictional character, like Santa Claus or Batman. (Of course he is, my dad explained that night, but not everyone realizes this.)

More here.