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  • The Glenn Beck, Mahdism and Antichrist series

    Posted by Charles Cameron on April 27th, 2011 (All posts by )

    [cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
    .

    Glenn Beck has a new documentary coming out tonight on Mahdism and the Antichrist.

    He calls it “the documentary that you will not see on mainstream television” and to get to see it, you have to be a subscriber to Beck’s Insider Extreme channel on the web. But then that fits with Beck’s emphasis right now — he doesn’t mind crying shame on the media for not carrying the documentary, but he doesn’t want unbelievers to see it either — he told his radio audience today:

    Make sure you see it tonight at nine o’clock. And if I may recommend that you watch it with some friends. Invite some friends over, some like-minded people, don’t try to get any converts in. Pull up the nets, man, pull up the nets.

    So okay — it won’t be on “mainstream television” but it will be seen in a million “like-minded” homes, and it will influence them, it will influence their perspective on Islam, and on the Middle East.

    Here’s a description of what they can expect, drawn from Joel Rosenberg‘s blog today. Joel is the author of the apocalyptic thriller The Twelfth Imam, has seen the rough cut and will be appearing on the video, along with those he lists here:

    Tonight on his website, Glenn Beck will premiere his new documentary film, “Rumors of War — Part Two.” As with Part One, I was interviewed for the film…

    The documentary examines current events and trends in the Middle East and the Islamic world from various vantage points — Biblical End Times theology, Jewish End Times theology, and Islamic End Times theology. It discusses the latest threats from the Radical Islamic world to Israel, the West and our allies. It features a wide range of Jewish, Muslim and evangelical Christian authors and commentators in a balanced yet provocative and fascinating way. Among them:

    • Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N.
    • Reza Kahlili, former CIA agent inside Iran and author of A Time To Betray
    • Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind novel series
    • Brigitte Gabriel, author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It
    • Joel Richardson, author of The Islamic Antichrist
    • Dr. Zudi Jasser, president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy

    *

    The thing is, Beck doesn’t know a whole lot about these things, and his advisers get things wrong — sometimes flat out wrong, sometimes just out of proportion — too.

    I aim to review Beck’s documentary along with its predecessor, and the books of Joel Richardson and Joel Rosenberg, and also take a look at some other books and articles that cover the same materials with greater scholarship and less religious special interest — notably the works of David Cook, J-P Filiu and Timothy Furnish — clear up some of this issues in which definitive corrections are in order, suggest areas where the preponderance of evidence and informed commentary leans away from Beck’s position, and raise again those urgent questions which remain.

    Because from where I sit, Glenn Beck has hit on one of our blind spots — and is giving us a dangerously distorted mirror in which to view it.

    *

    Here’s Beck talking about the upcoming documentary this morning on his radio show:

    Tonight, you don’t want to miss, on Insider Extreme, something that we have been trying to tell the story for quite some time, and I have told it to you many times before, the story of the Twelfth Imam, well this is not the full story of the Twelfth Imam, this is what people Middle East believe about the Twelfth Imam, or the Mahdi as the… Sunnis? Sunnis are in Egypt, Shias are in, ah, is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around? I think it’s S.. Shias are in Iran. One believes in the Twelfth Imam, the others believe in the Mahdi, same guy, it is the… the… you would know it as the Antichrist. It is the, it has every earmarking of the Antichrist, every single one, I mean, he makes a peace for seven years with Egypt, he viol… — I mean with Israel, he violates it, he marks people with a number, he beheads people if they don’t submit, I mean it’s all there. It’s all there. And Ahmadinejad says that he is alive and well and orchestrating the things in the Middle East.

    Did you get that? He’s not sure: “is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around?”

    If Beck has been working on this documentary for a year now, let’s hope he does in fact know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, and that he’s using the popular gag technique of pretending not to know, so his audience — who haven’t all been working on a documentary and may well not know — can feel all the more strongly “he’s one of us”. And besides, Sunni, Shia, it’s all the same, Mahdi, Twelfth Imam, no difference at all, right?

    So that’s the level of required accuracy that’s tolerated here. Which side was it wanted to keep slavery? I forget now, I think it may have been the South. Belfast — now is that Catholic, or Protestant?

    *

    And one last quick note from the same post on Joel Rosenberg’s blog:

    As far as I can tell, Glenn Beck is leaving the Fox News Channel in part because Fox is opposed to him devoting so much time on his program to End Times issues, Bible prophecy, Iran’s eschatology, and the linkage of these things to left wing efforts to sow seeds of revolution and chaos. It’s too bad, really.

    That’s an interesting data point.

    *

    There will be plenty to talk about, anyway:

    the new documentary, Joel Rosenberg’s thriller, which I enjoyed, Joel Richardson, with whom I correspond and whom I like, the new Mahdist video in Iran which is causing quite a stir, and may or may not be an “official” Iranian production, the vexed question — vexed in all three Abrahamic faiths — of whether you can hasten the coming of the Awaited One and if so, how, and the implications of all this both in the United States and in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear program…

    The Glenn Beck, Mahdism & Antichrist blog series, coming up.

     

    12 Responses to “The Glenn Beck, Mahdism and Antichrist series”

    1. newrouter Says:

      “Did you get that? He’s not sure: “is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around?”

      oh my someone has a brain fart on live radio. the horror.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      This time I will not venture a guess as to what Mr. Beck is “up to.”

      Charles, YOU should do a series of TV shows about apocalyptic Islam.

    3. newrouter Says:

      “Glenn Beck has hit on one of our blind spots — and is giving us a dangerously distorted mirror in which to view it.”

      islamic supreme ism is islamic thought. you think the pedophile mohammed thought differently? yea conquer lands on the say so of an illiterate rabble rouser. much better with a credentialed community organizer/rabble rouser. eff islam.

    4. ErisGuy Says:

      “Which side was it wanted to keep slavery? I forget now, I think it may have been the South.”

      Good point. And amusing. Beck’s no scholar. Still, the doctrinal differences between two groups both of which want us terminated needn’t be of interest. That is, if the quote wasn’t an outright bit of ignorance, it’s an assertion that Shias and Sunnis both want Muslim domination, which they do.

      OTOH, slave states fought on both sides in the Civil War.

    5. tyouth Says:

      Charles, an unusually concrete and to the point post for you. Good.

    6. John Wolfsberger, Jr. Says:

      What’s important about End Times beliefs isn’t the content of the “prophecy,” but the world view it creates and the actions it inspires.

    7. Charles Cameron Says:

      Newrouter says:

      > oh my someone has a brain fart on live radio. the horror.

      Heh! I might agree, except (a) I don’t think it was a brain fart unless contrived loss of memory counts under that head, (b) Beck has supposedly been researching these subjects for more than a year, and (c) he may be an entertainer but he’s also a political influence – and its dangerous for someone in his position to get his basic facts wrong on topics where poor risk-analysis and decision-making might lead to yet another war in the Middle East (whether that’s US and/or Israel vs Iran, or Iran vs Israel and/or US), and/or a rise in jihadist sympathies and recruitment…

    8. Charles Cameron Says:

      ErisGuy says:

      Still, the doctrinal differences between two groups both of which want us terminated needn’t be of interest. That is, if the quote wasn’t an outright bit of ignorance, it’s an assertion that Shias and Sunnis both want Muslim domination, which they do.

      Some Christians too want domination – but that’s a topic that deserves to be addressed with both research and nuance, since the options based on the Great Commission at Matthew 28:18-20 range from

      Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness … World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less.
       
      – George Grant, The Changing of the Guard

      to:

      at the root of all evangelization lies not a human plan of expansion, but rather the desire to share the inestimable gift that God has wished to give us, making us sharers in his own life.
       
      – Benedict XVI, motu proprio Ubicumque et Semper

      So that’s one more long series of posts to add to my agenda…

    9. Charles Cameron Says:

      Anonymous:

      Heh — thanks, but i prefer my hermitage and laptop…

      Tyouth:

      Thanks — I will try to conform myself to your best hopes, but can’t promise to avoid all drift, that being in my nature as an associative thinker…

    10. Charles Cameron Says:

      John:

      What’s important about End Times beliefs isn’t the content of the “prophecy,” but the world view it creates and the actions it inspires.

      I’m afraid that brings us to another question requiring nuance and research — the degree to which “signs of the times” should be interpreted (in Judaism, Christianity or Islam) as requiring human intervention, whether warlike or pacific — or simple patience.

      Sistani’s view on this would no doubt differ from Khomeini’s, the late Lubavicher Rebbe’s (“add in acts of goodness and kindness”), and so on.

      So I’ll have to add a detailed review of “birth pangs of the Messiah” to my list of desiderata…

    11. Shannon Love Says:

      You know, I lived through the last big “End of Times” episode back in the late-70s. Growing up in an evangelical church of biblical literalist I saw a lot of it. Strangely, it all evaporated shortly after Reagan got elected. These episodes seem to be triggered by bad times although I don’t if anyone has studied the matter systematically.

      I’m don’t we should find it surprising that Islam has similar predications and even characters to Christianity and Judaism because all three religions belong to the same broad cultural group (relative to Hindus, Buddhist, etc) and during the time in which Islam was dominate in the Mediterranean world, a vast amount of theological cross pollination occurred. So, in one sense the Islamic versions of End of Times prophecies shouldn’t be anymore threatening than those of Christian sects which we in the Western world have lived with for centuries.

      On the other hand, it is always a mistake to underestimate the crazy of autocrats. Such regimes isolate themselves intellectually and develop a powerful group think. The Imperial Japanese leadership really did convince themselves that sheer will power could overcome US material might and resolve. The Nazi leadership really did believe that the German people were the target of vast historical Jewish conspiracy. Stalin and other Soviet leaders really did believe that capitalist states would collapse into Fascism and attack Communist states “any day now.” All the autocratic regimes took massive and often suicidal action based on such delusions.

      It is possible for an autocracy like Iran, especially a theocracy like Iran, to fall into a very dangerous groupthink delusion that they are carrying out some divine mandate (it’s no more crazy than Marxist’s obsession with “historical inevitability.”) People who follow the “realist” school of foreign policy are continuously surprised because real-world leadership groups don’t make decsions like a game theorist computer program. Attempting to understand the Iranian leaderships end of times beliefs could prove valuable.

      On the gripping hand, it is highly unlikely that any Westerner could really understand such beliefs. Thinking that we do could prove as dangerous as ignoring them outright.

    12. Charles Cameron Says:

      There’s a lot to consider here, Shannon, and I appreciate your comments. I don’t feel able to respond in detail yet, but I hope and intend to address them properly by the time the series is complete.