Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Waiting for Armageddon - Fundamentalists believing literal words in the Bible

Over on Amazon.Com they summarize the movie thusly: "Waiting for Armageddon explores the culture of 50 million American Evangelicals who believe that Bible prophecy dictates the future of mankind and that Israel and the Jewish people play pivotal roles in ensuring Christ's return. The film raises questions regarding how this theology shapes U.S. - Middle East relations and may encourage an international holy war." Let's unpack this and ponder the mind-set which see's the events going on around us as proof that the end times prophecies in the Bible are not only accurate predictions of the future, but are unfolding right now. Ponder the mind-set of a 15 year old young lady unhappy that she won't have a chance to marry and have children, because Armageddon will happen before she has a chance.

There are people in the U.S. and elsewhere with that mind-set. For that matter the mind-set isn't new, as there have been apocalyptic end-times cults for a long time. I grew up in a church with a similar mind-set, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At Church meetings we had plenty of discussion about how the world was going to end soon, and the church taught its youngsters things we should do to prepare for the time after the Apocalypse. Our church saw its role as being leaders in the rebuilding of the U.S. because some kind of Holy Aura would protect the land around Independence, MO because our church was headquartered in that city.

Today this apocalyptic end-times is not the province of tiny non-mainstream cults, sects or churches. Today it's a widely accepted point of view and there are plenty of political leaders openly espousing belief in the end-times.

The movie, Waiting for Armageddon, takes an up-close-and-personal look at quite a few of these people from individual believers to Pastors etc in the movement. They're speaking openly and clearly in this movie on their beliefs.

One of them is shown speaking before an audience at a "Pre-Tribulation" Conference saying that Post Modernism has at its core Atheism. That when someone reads the Bible and doesn't take the words literally, but instead has an open mind to interpreting the words, that they're engaging in the atheistic post modernism approach. That such people are simply completely wrong-headed. Others are shown saying that America's special role is to Christianize the rest of the world, and that they're supposed to start by Christianizing the U.S.

This goes a long way towards explaining how it came to be that the fundamentalist Christian viewpoint is being steam-rolled over us.

This mind-set strongly reminds me of an earlier blog post: Establishing control over a society. It was an inspired idea which came to me one day several years ago which goes like so:
I want to share a realization that recently came to me. It is a way of establishing control over a society, allowing you to bend them to your will. However in practice this will take generations to really lodge into society, so you probably won't have direct benefit but your heirs will.
  1. Step 1: Beg, borrow, steal or forge a set of spiritual writings
  2. Step 2: Present those writings as the Word of God
  3. Step 3: Present the writings as being the infallible source of truth
  4. Step 4: Appoint a group of people as the official interpreters of Gods Infallible Words as written in those writings
Step 1 - the Bible - the history of the Bible is one of politically motivated manipulation of its content, politically motivated use of that book and the Church (what's now Catholicism) to subjugate peoples. Steps 2-4 are analogous to the demand to accept the Bible as literal words, no interpretation, no questions, etc.

Prominent in this Tea Party nonsense is this same fundamentalism and ideas to convert America into a theocracy. That is, America being ruled by Christianity. America, the country where Separation of Church and State is one of the supreme principles of our governance.

What if these ideas are being manipulated by political powers for political ends? It wouldn't be the first time that Christianity (or other religions for that matter) were abused for political games.

The movie shows several people saying the Bible tells accurately the future. Really? This strikes me as a complete misunderstanding, because it's apparent one can only accurately tell what happened in the past and that the future has a wide range of possible outcomes depending on the decisions we make today. To proclaim there can be only one future is to discount our power of choice and the ability of our decisions to shape results.

The movie is rather unbalanced in that the fundamentalists are given free reign to speak without their statements being overtly questioned. There are speakers in the movie with other points of views that do a fairly good job of undermining the fundamentalists. But, I came out of watching it thinking the other points of view were completely overwhelmed by the crushing weight of the fundamentalist position.

It is a good movie, well put together, good information, and it's valuable to see directly what these people are saying to one another.

Hunting around on YouTube I found an amazing dissection of the movie by a fundamentalist Evangelical who shows a dozen ways the movie is confused or gets it wrong. Videos below