Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The End of the World Bus Tour

from the Guardian;

We're on a coach tour of Israel, with a bunch of mainly middle-aged Americans. So far, so unextraordinary. The reason they're here, though, is that they all believe that the end of the world is just around the corner. Apocalypse-tourism - much more exciting than eco-tourism.

So they visit the valley of Armageddon, which is a real place and looks pretty peaceful today. Not for long, though, because this is where man and Satan will rise up against God, and soon the whole place will be flowing with the blood of 200 million soldiers. Lots of the tourists get baptised, some for the second time, not in the Jordan but in the Sea of Galilee because it's handier for their hotel complex. And, anyway, the Jordan runs through Galilee so it's kind of the same. They're preparing themselves for The Rapture. They spend a day at an Israeli army camp, doing menial tasks to help out the soldiers. Because Palestinians are God's enemies, obviously.

But it's hard to get angry with this lot, because they are all quite mad, with troubled pasts - lost children, drugs, multiple relationship failures. Just look at their eyes: they're clearly bonkers. Lovely.

I watched this peculiar documentary the other night and I haven't much to add to the review above except how keen the pilgrims where to see everyone burn in hell, they where practically gloating! I don't think "bonkers" quite covers them, sure, their ideas are nuts but they alternated between being 'super friendly' to sinister glee when describing Jesus killing everybody (but them). I really admired how the crew how stopped themselves from either bursting out laughing or bashing them across the head during the course of making the film? You obviously need a very steady head to make documentaries.

I would have loved if the film makers had asked some of the Jewish soldiers what they made of this crowd. It must be bizarre, after all, only Christians will be saved in the Rapture and yet these fanatics where helping to clean up an Israeli military base. It's a strange world.