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Waiting for Armageddon

I just watched the documentary Waiting for Armageddon, about evangelicals primarily in the US who believe that the end times are very near. From my point of view, literal evangelicals are complete wackos and the documentary makers don’t really project them in any other way. Or is it because I think their message and their interpretation of the Bible cannot be projected in any other way? Can they really be projected in a way that makes them seem somewhat moderate and sensible?

One of the interviewees in the documentary was a woman from Oklahoma City who kept talking about how she didn’t think she’d ever have a grandchild, how her oldest son would probably never get to graduate, and so on. Her outlook was pretty grim. How do you go about life in that family, where both parents are convinced that this world will end in the very foreseeable future? I try to put myself in the shoes of the sons and then I realize that if I’m them, I’ve been brainwashed since day one of my life.

These people are, of course, a very small part of most evangelicals, let alone most christians. It’s still scary to see fairly prominent scholars and engineers discuss how the end times will happen, agreeing on the “fact” that the last battle will take place on a field southeast of Jerusalem and that it will be with horses and swords, since modern warfare will somehow have been made obsolete. Then god will kill all the enemies in a big flash that will not be a nuclear (not nookular) bomb and this blast will not harm as much as a hair on god’s people. Jews, according to the evangelicals, because they are god’s favorites and he’s protected them throughout history.

I don’t know… I think it’s scary that people like this exist and are somewhat prominent in some societies, even if they are very few. It’s like they are completely willfully ignorant of science and history. Even though I’m an atheist, I can still get why people have faith and I respect the ones that do. Faith can be a powerful thing even if it might not be for me personally. I’d rather believe in tangible things, mainly myself. But some people need it to feel strength or inspiration and that’s cool. Just keep it to yourself and don’t brainwash your kids. That’s my big beef, that these people target impressionable kids. Check out the documentary Jesus Camp if you want to watch more about that. Again, it’s about a small, small part of a wacky, religious faction, but it’s still scary in my opinion.

Regardless, this was an interesting documentary. The big question, as I said, is whether or not it is possible to portray these people in a way that doesn’t make them seem batshit insane to someone with my sceptical disposition towards extreme religiosity.

  1. 23 May, 2010 at 19:54

    I have seen clips of Jesus Camp (not this one though) and I can’t even bring myself to watch them because I know they will just make me throw my hands up in the air with frustration and anger.

    The superselling book series ‘Left Behind’ pretty much encapsulates much of what North American Christians feel/think regarding the end of the world, and it’s not a slim minority that believes this stuff either – it’s a huge poercentage, and if you believe otherwise then you are looked at quite strangely (trust me on this one!).

    The big thing for me is that this Christian subculture in the US drives politics, foreign policy etc. Scary stuff to be honest.

    • 23 May, 2010 at 20:07

      What I want to know is this: How many politicians actually believe this stuff and how many are just pandering to their voter base? Either way, it’s a dangerous thing, as you say, and they even mention in this documentary that there is no separation between church and state. That’s one of the biggest pieces of bullshit I know in today’s political climate. Why do they even pretend that there is a separation between church and state in the US? A lot of the time I’m really happy that I live in a country where religious pandering by politicians gets laughed at by the general population.

      You should check out Jesus Camp. It’s an interesting and harrowing documentary, especially when they get 12 year old kids to preach in front of hundreds of other kids. Then you have the head honcho lady speaking in tongues when she gets excited… freaks me the fuck out.

      • 23 May, 2010 at 20:28

        I do think that many of the politicians there simply know that they only need to mention the words ‘abortion’, or ‘homosexual’ and they will have half of the country foaming at the mouth about the founders of the USA being Christians and the eroding of God’s great country blah blah blah, and they will get votes. They are smart!

        I live in Canada, so while there are certainly some elements of religious nationalism, it’s still nowhere near what it is down south.

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