Hagee’s New Film Uses Jews and Science to Prove Christian, Pro-US God

As I was driving to see Four Blood Moons, a new docu-drama about Biblical prophecy, an enormous storm blew in. During the film, long rumbles of thunder interrupted interviews about prophets, lunar cycles, and civilizational war. Lightning flickered in the west as we left.

It’s awfully tempting to read omens into natural phenomena, isn’t it? Picture it: you’re sitting in a suburban Raleigh cinema, watching a wall-sized projection of a Texas mega-pastor intoning the details of apocalyptic prophecies, and then actual thunder roars. And you can’t help it. You start to wonder. Is it a sign?

John Hagee has a penchant for seeing such signs. The popular San Antonio pastor is the founder of Christians United for Israel, an organization that makes AIPAC look wishy-washy, and the author of the book Four Blood Moons, which he’s now turned into a docu-drama of the same name.

Ostensibly, FBM is about biblical prophecy, the contemporary Middle East, and the role of Jews in history, though it’d be more accurate to say that FBM is an attempt to use history and science to prove the existence of a Christian, pro-American God.

During the eclipse of a full moon, the face of the disk turns red: a blood moon. The appearance of four blood moons in a short period of time is called a tetrad. Right now, we’re three-quarters of the way through a tetrad in which each blood moon falls on a Jewish holiday—Passover 2014, Sukkot 2014, Passover 2015, and (appearing in skies near you this September!) Sukkot 2015.

Blood moons happen frequently. And the coincidence of blood moons and Jewish holidays is fairly commonplace, which, it turns out, isn’t such a coincidence after all since Passover and Sukkot always begin on the full moon—as does Purim.

Still, tetrads that fall entirely on Jewish holidays aren’t common, and quite a few have taken place during significant moments in Jewish history—in 1492-1493, in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition; in 1949-1950, shortly after Israel became a state; and in 1967-1968, the time of the Six-Day War in Israel.

At this point, you may be getting those Ouija-board-chills, or perhaps even sensing the whiff of the occult. These creepy coincidences can work all so well, in fact, that Hagee himself is sensitive to the possibility that he’s dabbling in witchcraft. So, in a neat bit of circular logic, Hagee explains that the blood moon prophecy isn’t witchery.

“Astrology,” he says, “is a false science” and a form witchcraft, while “astronomy is a true science.” What makes this particular prophecy astronomical, not astrological? As far as I can tell, it’s mostly that Hagee believes it’s true.

Plus, it’s in the Bible. “Before the great and the terrible days of the Lord come…The sun shall turn into darkness, and the moon into blood,” the prophet Joel explains. The book of Acts, in the New Testament, restates the point, and in Revelation the moon becomes “as red as blood.”

Blood, warfare, and Nostradamus-style speculation make for good entertainment, and Hagee’s book reportedly had a print run of 750,000. For the film, he enlisted award-winning filmmaker Keith Miller as director. Producer Rick Eldridge told RD that “three private entities” had funded the project, but he declined to name them. Originally conceived as a one-night-only screening in hundreds of theaters nationwide, FBM had a second round of showings this past Thursday night. At the Raleigh theater I went to, around seventy people showed up. A theater employee said that the original showing, on two screens, had been sold out.

After a short, science-y introduction to the mechanics of the lunar eclipse, FBM dives into dramatized depictions of Jews in peril, getting rescued by God. There are scenes from Inquisition Spain, and from Israel in the 1940s and 1960s.

Along the way, a cast of male* experts, which includes (the recently incarcerated) Dinesh D’Souza, a pair of rabbis, and Dennis Prager, explains exactly how improbable the survival of the Jewish people would be without divine intervention—which tends to happen in conjunction with blood moons.

The whole enterprise builds toward the obvious question: what will happen to the Jews this time around? Regarding the answer, FBM does not hedge: it’s marauding Muslim hordes. Throughout the film, it’s Muslims—swarthy, disorganized, kaffiyeh-clad troops—who antagonize the Jews in most dramatic reenactments. And it’s Muslims—ISIS, and especially Iran—whom the film’s experts suggest will be the wicked actors in this next blood moon drama. A brief section citing the shared Abrahamic heritage of Jews and Christians entirely omits Islam, the third Abrahamic faith.

At its core, though, FBM is not really concerned with Islam or Iran. In fact, it’s not really all that concerned with Jews, either. FBM is a religious proof text for Christianity—a cultural product that offers concrete, science-y, academic evidence that men like John Hagee are totally right about everything.

Again and again, FBM harnesses Jewish history and astronomy to provide evidence for God amidst contemporary upheaval. As such, it’s tailored to a small, fearful sliver of the diverse evangelical scene; it’s a movie intended to tell its viewers that the world, unto and including the very movement of the earth and the moon, conforms to their beliefs.

Problem is, blood moons are highly predictable events—the product of celestial clockwork. For the lunar eclipse to be a prophetic player, either God has to push history to conform to the fixed pattern of the moon, or the moon must somehow alter its course for history in a way that astronomers haven’t yet noticed.

Neither idea is especially appealing, logically or theologically. But for Hagee that isn’t cause for concern. Science sounds authoritative; astronomy is science; therefore astronomical events have authority. QED.

FBM treats Jews in much the same way that it treats the moon: as something distant, abstract, and faintly inscrutable, that can be used to confirm a fragile thesis. It takes a rather determined theology, or a selective lens, to see Jewish history as a straightforward, triumphant story of divine care, but Hagee does his best.

Not all Jews will appreciate being conscripted into an evangelical drama, even in the role of the hero. I’ve made this point before, but it’s worth repeating: philo-Semitism and anti-Semitism can look awfully similar. Both treat Jews as potent historical symbols, while neither seems to pay much attention to how Jews themselves interpret their own history. And both are notoriously tone deaf when it comes to appreciating the diversity of actual Jewish people.

FBM also happens to be tone deaf in a fairly literal sense: the actors in the dramatic reenactments handle Hebrew as if it were some guttural annex of Midwestern English. Hagee, who leads trips to Israel and has made a career out of Jewish-Christian relations, still can’t pronounce the word Sukkot (the second syllable rhymes with coat, not with cot).

But this isn’t a film about Israel as an actual place. It’s a film about Israel as an idea. In fact, geographical details cause Hagee some problems, since lunar eclipses aren’t visible worldwide; this particular tetrad doesn’t appear in Israeli skies at all, which may actually be a perfect metaphor for Hagee’s project.

During the taped panel discussion that forms a coda to the film, a panelist points this out, and the pastor squirms. The panel moderator jumps in: “Is it because of our role as friend and defender of Israel?” Hagee ignores the lifeline. For those who seek prophecy, some natural phenomena (thunderstorms, eclipses) may just be too dramatic to ignore, even when the details don’t quite work out. “I don’t have an answer for why Israel can’t see it,” Hagee admits. They move on.

* In fact, the only woman who speaks during the entire documentary is a character in the Inquisition reenactment. She spends most of the time crying as inquisitors torture her heroic husband.

27 Comments

  • dkeane123@comcast.net' DKeane123 says:

    Pseudoscience, prophecy, and some evil Muslims all rolled into one nice package.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' GeniusPhx says:

    There was no Exodus, no Jewish slaves. Archaeological digs in Canaan prove early jews were already there, but they were the lower class (not slaves). They rose up against the rich and took over Canaan, from within.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    That might be a flaw in what Hagee is saying, along with everything else he says.

  • junesxing@yahoo.com' Jeffrey Samuels says:

    Actually to us Jews it doesn’t make much difference. We tend to take our biblical mythology for what it is. Doesn’t make our Passover any less meaningful as a concept.

  • themindfuldissenters@gmail.com' Rev. Jake Harrison says:

    Basing ANY argument and the accompanied “confrontation” on the “information derived from narrative fiction, e.g. The Old or New Testament (or any other “testament” for that matter) is as close as possible to moronic as humanity can get. It has proved to lead to the destruction of entire societies and is always bloody and dangerous to everyone who comes into contact with those who “believe”—but especially those who are initiating the “argument/confrontation” and is the oldest excuse (reason) for “self destruction” that history offers.
    Anyone who believes in a “deity” that can according to the “narrative fiction” CREATE THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE (and even the things we have not discovered yet) IN JUST SIX DAYS; BUT CAN’T WRITE “HIS” OWN BOOK, MUCH LESS PUBLISH IT——–is INSANE—AND THOSE BELIEVING IN SUCH ABSURDITIES—–DESERVE EVERYTHING THEY GET.
    Unless of course they keep their beliefs to themselves; and not bother the rest of us with it.

  • russneal@hotmail.com' Russ Neal says:

    People who deny the existence of the Biblical God and of meaning in history itself, for that matter, always enjoy mocking the rubes and their ignorant superstitions. But perhaps the rubes, even though they may get it wrong on the particulars, are closer to the truth in seeing meaning, purpose and direction, the hand of God, in history and current events, than the sophisticates who see even their own exalted minds as mere molecules in motion.

    Here’s a superstition for you, one earnestly held by our intellectual betters; we can pay all our current expenses by borrowing against the earnings of future generations, eliminate the future generations through deliberate negative population growth, and thus build a wonderful Utopian future.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    I guess everyone here got their digs in. Is it the water?

  • vcgrant@gmail.com' VG1959 says:

    The problem here is that elements of all this pseudo-scientific/religious mumbo-jumbo bleeds into mainstream evangelical beliefs and the broader American culture. All Christians become tainted whether they subscribed to this teaching or not.

  • leigh.isme@yahoo.com' Leigh says:

    Hagee always neglects to say exactly why he reveres Israel and the Jews so much. Certainly not because he loves them so much or because they’re the “chosen people”. It’s because he and his bizarro brand of Christianity believe that Jesus cannot “return to earth” unless Israel physically exists. Then once returned, a now souped-up, Rambo-like Jesus proceeds to slay infidels and nonbelievers, including Jews who refuse to convert.

  • vcgrant@gmail.com' VG1959 says:

    Actually it is deeper than that. Hagee fundamentally misunderstands that, in Christianity, Israel ceased being the “chosen people” with the advent of Jesus Christ. The mantel now falls on Christ’s followers, Jew & Gentile alike irrespective of physical geography.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    After thousands of years it should be time to give up on those ideas. You have to admit, Christianity won’t be still believing in this stuff in a million years from now. So that means there will be a point where the beliefs all stop. If we can make that point come sooner, we are better off.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    We don’t bother thinking much about Hagee now. It was frightening when he had the ear of the president and had his bestseller demanding we start a war with Iran. He just seems much smaller now, and hopefully outside of his megachurch in Texas nobody pays much attention to him any more..

  • rongoodman@mac.com' ron_goodman says:

    Jewish people might disagree with that statement.

  • rongoodman@mac.com' ron_goodman says:

    There are still lots of neocons banging the drum for a war with Iran, including most, if not all, of the GOP presidential aspirants.

  • vcgrant@gmail.com' VG1959 says:

    I agree, but we are not talking about the Jewish faith, but Christian beliefs. Both the Gospels and the Epistles are clear that the mantel of divine promise transferred to the followers of Christ.

    No longer were the “chosen people” contained in a physical race (Hebrews), but the people of God’s promise to Abraham were those that chose to believe in Jesus.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I hope some of the Democrats have learned to resist the call for war this time.

  • wesseldawn@gmail.com' Duck says:

    Evangelical Christians believe that Israel is the “apple of God’s eye” and as such ‘special’ to God. They believe that even though Israel is currently estranged from God there will come a time when Jews will see the light and convert to Evangelical Christianity (though Evangelicals won’t say this out loud). It’s considered quite an accomplishment for an Evangelical to convert a Jewish person.
    It’s not just Evangelicals though, it’s the face of religion to segregate it’s adherents from the rest of the world, where inside their church walls the leaders’ ideas are rarely challenged (because it’s believed the leaders are anointed ‘by God’). This causes them to be ingrown and narrow minded. Many Evangelicals will not educate their children outside of a ‘Christian’ college or university because everything ‘out there’ is wrong or evil and they become increasingly more superstitious over time.
    It’s because they’re cloistered that Evangelicals become bored and need the stimulation of some hot new ‘Bible’ topic. It’s really very sad.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' GeniusPhx says:

    that’s what was supposed to happen. the gospels were not about Jesus, they were about us and what we are supposed to become. Jesus was just a name they used.

  • rongoodman@mac.com' ron_goodman says:

    Me too, but I doubt it.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    It could be a topic of discussion. I am sure things have changed some because in 2001 it seemed like 98% of Democrats were afraid of getting voted out of office if they didn’t seem patriotic and wear the pins and support the path to war. Back then, Rush and Fox were pretty dominate in the media, and they probably would have been attacked and voted out. Now it is different. Half of them might still be making the mistake of allowing the party of NO to have the final vote, but they have the option of speaking out against war, and would gain a lot of votes that way. I see the glass as half full, and last time around it was empty except a few drops.

  • jenellbrinson@yahoo.com' JenellYB says:

    Dismissing such superstitious and speculative nonsense as Hagee spouts, or any other nonsense some evangelicals have made of their supposed interpretation of scripture applied to world events, is not to deny the existence of God, even the “Biblical God,” or the “meaning” of history itself.

    Evangelicals claim to believe the Bible is the very word of God, literal and inerrant. Well, maybe more of then ought to actually READ their bibles, not just swallow what is spoon-fed to them by their preachers and ‘religious entertainers’ such as this guy. None of what Hagee is presenting here is “biblical.” It just is not in the Bible. He has embroidered what might be there, and fabricated much more, to present interpretation of prophecy. And if there is another thing those that claim to take the bible seriously should know, it is the warning that nothing be added or taken away from this book. Think about that, when considering the stuff one such as Hagee adds to create his interpretations.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    If the Bible is full of contradictions, then adding or taking away doesn’t mean much. It is just the price of doing religious business.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    People who believe such nonsense are not “our intellectual betters.” That being said, I don’t know anyone supporting such a view; they undoubtedly exist, but lack the influence to do much damage on a grander socio-political scale.

  • robert.m.jeffers@lonestar.edu' Rmj says:

    “And both are notoriously tone deaf when it comes to appreciating the diversity of actual Jewish people.”
    Or the complexities of the Hebrew Scriptures. The vision of the “holy mountain” in Isaiah is not a vision of military triumph, or any triumph of human power at all. It is a vision of peace and harmony which “all nations” are drawn to so they can learn from it, as you might be drawn to a fire on a cold night. It is a welcoming vision, not a vision of conquest and final victory over enemies.

    Triumphalism is so much more fun, of course, so treating Jews as something as distant as the moon is also the treatment given to both scripture and history. The imagery of the holy mountain is beneficent; the theology of Hagee is belligerent.

    Which, I think, makes it illegitimate.

  • joerogers67@gmail.com' joeyj1220 says:

    and Hagee should begin to focus on sins like gluttony. (cheap shot, I know)

  • hope some of the Democrats have learned to resist the call for war this time.
    ________________________

    Tour du lich Han Quoc

  • photoshockpenn@gmail.com' NelsonRobison says:

    It is the evil that men do that proceeds them. And John Hagee has committed evil in the human way. He sets himself up as a moral authority, yet he’s been divorced, he’s committed adultery, he’s used the finances of the church for his own self enrichment and the enrichment of his family. He’s trying to set his son up as the next pastor of their church, much like Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Kenneth Hagin Sr., and too many of the self proclaimed pastors of mega-churches are doing to ensure their family’s continued wealth accumulation.

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