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A baptism in the Jordan River (Photo: First Run Features)

Directed by
Kate Davis, Franco Sacchi & David Heilbroner
Produced by
Heilbroner & Sacchi
Released by First Run Features
USA. 74 min. Not Rated

Over a decade ago, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America traced the voting strength of Christian evangelicals. Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi and Jesus Camp both showed that the estimated 50 million strong community consists of mainstream all-American families. Now Kate Davis, David Heilbroner, and Franco Sacchi warn in Waiting for Armageddon about the last days for the Rest of Us, if the visions of Christian evangelicals come true and how they influence Mideast policy.

While Bill Mahers Religulous poked fun at the practicalities of human life after the Second Coming, this documentary is helpful in parsing the Rapture (the final assumption of Christians into heaven) and how believers are intensely preparing for it as they go on with their daily lives. In addition to the usual images and interviews with genial and eloquent pastors from the new Bible Belt of modern mega-churches in Colorado, the filmmakers glean some new insights from in-depth interviews with two white, middle-class families: a Connecticut couple, James and Laura Bagg, a stolid engineer and software designer; and the Edwards family in Oklahoma—the parents try to reconcile their three teenage daughters’ questioning about their futures with the happy certainty that the end is coming very soon. (“It doesn’t seem fair” responds one confused daughter.)

Biblical prophecy begets the political when Dr. H. Wayne House of Salem, Oregon, is interviewed preparing a PowerPoint presentation he stages around the U. S. and for a tour he leads in Israel. While Christian pilgrims have been seeking to walk in Jesus’s footsteps from the Galilee to Jerusalem and get baptized in the Jordan River for a couple of millennia, these evangelical tourists seem a bit more cognizant that they are traveling in a Jewish state than the many oblivious groups I saw in the Holy Land in 1976, who were confused by the restrictions of the Saturday Sabbath. The tourists relates to the suicidal last stand against the Romans at Masada like the Alamo, rather than the earlier group, who only saw it as the ruins of King Herod’s palace.

Houses Christian Study Tour focuses specifically on where the Rapture will begin. The minister cheerfully points out the location for the Battle of Armageddon where Muslims will face the ultimate defeat and unconverted Jews will be killed by divine vengeance. In the meantime, he sees the establishment and continuation of the Jewish state as a necessity towards this inevitability.

The filmmakers seem to think it’s a new revelation that Israeli leaders look crassly foolish accepting the political support (and checks) of Christian Zionists who Photoshop out Jews and the Muslims from their vision of Jerusalem after the apocalypse. (Ah, so that’s the solution to the conflicts in Jerusalem!) Probably these Israelis find these folks easier to deal with than their fellow countrymen, who are insisting on their own interpretations of fulfilling Biblical prophecies in the country. Nora Lee Mandel
January 8, 2010



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