Children of Ezekiel

Aliens, UFOs, the Crisis of Race, and the Advent of End Time

Children of Ezekiel

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 16 figures Published: November 1998

Author: Michael Lieb

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Religious Studies

Are Milton’s Paradise Lost, Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense program, our culture’s fascination with UFOs and alien abductions, and Louis Farrakhan’s views on racial Armageddon somehow linked? In Children of Ezekiel Michael Lieb reveals the connections between these phenomena and the way culture has persistently related the divine to the technological. In a work of special interest at the approach of the millennium, Lieb traces these and other diverse cultural moments—all descended from the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of a fiery divine chariot in the sky—from antiquity to the present, across high and low culture, to reveal the pervasive impact of this visionary experience on the modern world.
Beginning with the merkabah chariot literature of Hebrew and Gnostic mysticism, Lieb shows how religiously inspired people concerned with annihilating their heretical enemies seized on Ezekiel’s vision as revealing the technologically superior instrument of God’s righteous anger. He describes how many who seek to know the unknowable that is the power of God conceive it in technological terms—and how that power is associated with political aims and a heralding of the end of time. For Milton, Ezekiel’s chariot becomes the vehicle in which the Son of God does battle with the rebellious angels. In the modern age, it may take the form of a locomotive, tank, airplane, missile, or UFO. Technology itself is seen as a divine gift and an embodiment of God in the temporal world. As Lieb demonstrates, the impetus to produce modern technology arises not merely from the desire for profit or military might but also from religious-spiritual motives.
Including discussions of conservative evangelical Christian movements, Reagan’s ballistic shooting gallery in the sky, and the Nation of Islam’s vision of the “mother plane” as the vehicle of retribution in the war against racial oppression, Children of Ezekiel will enthrall readers who have been captivated, either through religious belief or intellectual interests, by a common thread uniting millennial religious beliefs, racial conflict, and political and militaristic aspirations.


“[A] fascinating and highly sophisticated book. . . . Readers of and writers on the Book of Ezekiel ought to read this excellent book and everybody who is interested in what is going on in technological circles in our time should put this book on their bookshelves. It is an immensely enjoyable, exemplary piece of writing on a biblical vision and its afterlife.” — Robert Carroll , Christian Parapsychologist

“[A] valuable addition and even correction to current apocalyptic studies and some very useful insights into Milton’s eschatological thought. Its importance, which is considerable, lies in its contention that technology both bestows and absorbs meaning in sacred belief systems, and in the seriousness with which it takes the influence of sacred systems on apparently secular intellectual (or pseudo-intellectual) history.” — Beth Quitslund , Milton Quarterly

“As a study in culture and ideas as they interact with a biblical text, this book is a stimulating and provocative study of some rather bizarre phenomena.” — Michael D. Guinan, Theological Studies

“Historians of technology will find much in this book that resonates with current scholarship on consumers and users of technology and the processes they develop to appropriate, redesign, redefine, or reinterpret the meanings of the technologies they use, experience, or encounter.” — David Morton , Technology and Culture

“Lieb’s book is an extraordinarily wide-ranging attempt to reveal the deep connections between the many forms of apocalyptic thought in our era. . . . Children of Ezekiel is testament to the importance of taking seriously the religious significance coded into our popular culture, and of studying popular books, films, and speeches with the rigor once reserved for reading poems, novels, and even the Bible. . . . Lieb has performed important intellectual and political work by tracing the long genealogy of these various ‘children of Ezekiel’ and the profound connections between technology and religion in the modern world.” — , In These Times

“Lieb’s book is the product of remarkable research and scholarship.” — Philip Leonard , Time and Society

“Michael Lieb argues passionately about the power of belief. . . . As Lieb describes it, Ezekiel’s vision ‘represents the wellspring of the impulse to fashion a technology out of the ineffable, the inexpressible, the unknowable.’ Using this premise, Lieb unites the work of John Milton, pop UFO beliefs, the film Star Wars, SDI itself, and the teachings of the Nation of Islam.” — , Bookforum

“The themes and ideas of this book are so rich and complex that any attempt to summarize its contents is doomed to oversimplification. . . . It should be required reading for anyone who is concerned about the uneasy relationship between religious belief and political activity in our troubled world.” — , Cithara

"Lieb is to be commended for plotting the course of a perennially intriguing metaphor from Hebrew Scriptures throughout Western history." — W. Michael Ashcraft , Nova Religio

“In addition to contributing a great deal to our understanding of the presence of Biblical themes in the modern world, Michael Lieb’s book offers a highly sophisticated way of understanding elements of the contemporary UFO phenomenon. Highly recommended for readers from many different disciplines.” — Michael Zimmerman, author of Contesting Earth’s Future: Radical Ecology and Postmodernity

“This exciting book interrelates urgent topics in ways never before imagined. While replete with information, teeming with insights, and relevant to the major concerns of present-day society, this book is written with dramatic immediacy and gratifying clarity. More than ‘essential reading,’ this book should be at the top of everyone’s list.” — Albert C. Labriola, author of Milton’s Legacy in the Arts


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Michael Lieb is Research Professor of Humanities and Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His previous books include Milton and the Culture of Violence and The Visionary Mode: Biblical Prophecy, Hermeneutics, and Cultural Change.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2268-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2137-8
Publicity material