Beginning with 'The End'
Many years ago, I read a book by Mark S Geston entitled 'Out of the Mouth of the Dragon'. The title is taken from a prophecy in the last book of the Bible - the book of Revelation. The titular prophecy foretells deceiving spirits who create the conditions under which the battle of 'Armageddon' takes place. 'Armageddon' is understood to be a final battle between good and evil.
According to the story, several 'Armageddons' in fact take place, morale is destroyed, and the world degenerates both physically and spiritually. The 'hero' (Van Roarke) journeys to 'The Meadows' where most of the 'Armageddon' battles had already taken place. There he hopes to find the 'right side' to fight on and secure his place in history and for eternity. There is an atmosphere of gloom and hopelessness throughout Geston's book - perhaps designed to reflect the largely pessimistic themes of the last book of the Bible.
In Van Roarke's home town considerable energy is spent building a cathedral. This gave physical expression to the hopes of religious people for a better future - not a future in this world but only in the next. 'Religion' is depicted as providing an escape from the miserable present reality, a miserable reality which the 'self-fulfilment' of Bible prophecy had created in the first place. The cathedral becomes the 'opium of the people' - a device to distract religious people's attention from the 'real world'.