For those who believe the Rapture is imminent, bad news is good news. Environmental catastrophe? War in the Middle East? Declining morals? All signs that Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled, and that we’re perhaps minutes away from The End Of Days and Jesus’ return. The documentary Waiting For Armageddon lets a handful of the devout explain their worldview in greater detail, yet filmmakers Kate Davis, Franco Sacchi, and David Heilbroner don’t go looking for the simple-minded or easily mockable. They talk to pastors, professors, and well-off, well-spoken families, and ask them what it means to live every day with the absolute certainty that the Tribulation is imminent––and that they won’t be around to suffer it, because they’ll be safely tucked away in heaven.
Waiting For Armageddon takes an ever-growing subculture seriously—as well it should, since End-Timers have been gaining in political power—though Davis, Sacchi, and Heilbroner don’t shy away from the ironies inherent in the current situation. One mother matter-of-factly regrets that her children won’t ever get married or have kids of their own. Two scholars debate scenarios in which the armies of Armageddon will fight on horseback, as predicted. A group of Holy Land tourists parade around with a sense of entitlement, delivering loud lectures on Christian history in front of The Dome Of The Rock and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the Sea Of Galilee. And at seminars on prophecy, speakers postulate that 9/11 might’ve been a blessing.
Waiting For Armageddon could use more vérité scenes of the End-Timers living their lives, and fewer talking-head interviews. The documentary is a little scattered in approach, with straightforward testimonials and slice-of-life moments battling with the ominous music on the soundtrack and the intrusive, tongue-clucking comments from concerned academics. As is often the case with issue-docs, Waiting For Armageddon has people with differing opinions talking past each other in separate interviews, when direct questioning might’ve yielded something more substantial. Still, Davis and company do get at the odd mix of middle-class lifestyle and cheerful doom-saying that defines the mainstream apocalypticons. The movie shows how some people micro-analyze every word of The Bible, but disregard the contexts in which those words were written, how they support political leaders who work towards expediting Judgment Day, and how they put their Bibles on the shelf next to the novels of Anne Rice, Stephen King, and other writers who specialize in literalizing the fantastic.