Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pastor Hagee and Blood Moon Nonsense: Promoting Superstition and Fear

Blood Moon Superstition Hageeby Nomad

Megachurch pastor, televangelist and author John Hagee is warning the world that the lunar eclipses today is just God is cracking down on rule-breaking mortals. 
Such superstitious nonsense is nothing new. More than any other natural phenomenon, eclipses have been used frighten the under-educated and gullible.

Just when you thought it was safe to go forward into the future, now this. After we somehow survived the end of world predicted by the Mayans, we poor humans are clearly not out of danger just yet. 

The Raw Story has a article about the pastor of Texas’ Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas., John Hagee who has apparently dusted off his well-thumbed copy of the 1970 End Times bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth. The world will face a wrath of God that will make the Mayan's 2012 non-event look like a Harpo Marx with a seltzer bottle and a cream pie. 

The End of the Age.. Again
Hagee told his congregation that the astronomic events will be God's way of warning of an upcoming cataclysm involving Israel, Russia and a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” 
"Every time this has happened in the last 500 years, it has coincided with tragedy for the Jewish people followed by triumph. And once again, for Israel, the timing .. is remarkable."
It's strange, a critic might say, that God forgot to warn the Jews about the Holocaust with a couple of red moons.
According to the article:
“Is this the end of the age?” Hagee asked during a recent sermon, before quoting Acts 2:19-20: And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
“I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that he has been sending signals to planet Earth,” he explained. “God is literally screaming at the world, ‘I’m coming soon.’”
In actuality, today's' lunar eclipse, scientists inform us, will be the first of four in six month intervals. These eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons” because of their appearance (not for any supernatural reason).  Astronomers tell us that's simply due to sunlight shining on the moon filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere. However, to the Texas pastor, the event is God's way of clearing out the orgy, a kind of closing time last call for humanity.

Hot Water for Hagee
This won't be the first (nor the last) time that Hagee has made some astounding remarks. Notably, he has blamed the historical persecution of the guessed it, on the Jews themselves Specifically, Hagee said that it was "the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day... Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of antisemitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.... it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people."

Actually, Israel is something of an obsession with Pastor Hagee. He has written numerous books on Biblical prophecy related to the state of Israel. For example, he wrote in his 2001 book, Attack on America:
"Make no mistake - at some moment in the future, Russia, together with its Arab allies, will lead a massive attack upon the nation of Israel that will probably involve nuclear weapons. The prophet Ezekiel clearly described the coming battle, which I believe will take place just before the Antichrist steps forward to take his place on the world stage."
The senior pastor of Cornerstone Church has landed himself in hot water in the past. He has had to apologize (in his own fashion) to Catholics for preaching that Catholicism was "great whore" of Babylon, mentioned in the Book of Revelations.

Among his other statements, Hagee has commanded atheists to get on a plane and leave America if they didn't like Christmas carols and nativity scenes. This country, he said, was not "built for atheists nor by atheists.”
It was built by Christian people who believed in the word of God. ... If our belief in God offends you, move. We don’t want you and we won’t miss you, I promise you.”
Sort of the same things a lot of people say when Texas talks about secession.
Like many evangelists, Hagee would much prefer America become a Christian theocracy. if only those non-believers would just scram, then America could become great and power. After all, Hagee has also reportedly stated that all Christians should be financially prosperous so long as they continue to walk in obedience to God's ordinances. It all sounds like a training manual for a novice Mafioso. 

Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, Professor Emeritus of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College,  also listed other pronouncements:
Hagee quotes scripture to justify the 9/11 bombings (on account of New York’s Godlessness) and the loss of life in New Orleans’ Katrina (a homosexual parade). He has issued a most un-Christian call to war and invasion of Iran by reference to the Book of Esther. He cites Chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel, as predicting an “inferno [that] will explode across the Middle East, plunging the world toward Armageddon,” with Russia and the Arabs on one side and the US and Israel on God’s side. He welcomes this war to advance the Final Days and identifies the head of the European Union as the Anti-Christ (I John 2:22ff).
Hagee likes to mix his very flexible Biblical interpretations with as much superstition and foreign policy as the credulity of his flock will tolerate. And, as yet,  nobody seems to have rolled their eyes and said "Foo!" to his beefy face. 
So when the good pastor tells them that the red moons are a sign of the end of the world, his followers have been conditioned to nod sagely at this wisdom. 

However, there's one thing they appear to have forgotten. 

Since before the dawn of history, the polytheist pagans and Godless primitives tribes felt the same way about ominous eclipses and other natural phenomena.

The Bondage of  Superstition
Aiden Wilson Tozer Superstition
Not all religious leader endorse Hagee's Cassandra-like forecasts. 
Another American Christian pastor and writer Aiden Wilson Tozer,  would have called Hagee's revelations as not only superstitious nonsense, but a form of heresy.
He pointed out that superstition is commonly referred to as "an abject attitude of mind toward nature founded upon ignorance."  It is, said Tozer, a belief in magic and chance. 

Tozer's condemnation of the promotion could hardly provide more of a contrast to Hagee's sermon.  In his book, The Dangers of a Shallow Faith: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy" Tozer writes:
Superstition rides the primitive peoples of the world like an iron yoke. It keeps them in constant bondage, as if they were wearing a ball and chain. 
They are afraid of everything - the sun, the stars at night, an eclipse, the wind, the cry of the night bird. They live in a state of trembling terror at what they do not understand. When twins are born in some parts of primitive world, they save the first twin because they say God sent that one, but take the second one out and kill it. It is the child of the devil.
This idea, if it had come from an atheist might not have been all that remarkable. However, Tozer could compete on equal ground with any of the showman television ministers.
It was Tozer's belief that superstition was a defamation of God. Superstition, said Tozer, shows God "to be spiteful so that He takes childish revenge." 

He also makes a very interesting observation about the psychology of superstition.
Superstition is, in some measure, a projection of our own nasty little personalities into heaven and making God in our image; when we attribute a vast limitless spitefulness to God, people become afraid of Him.
Tozer considered this false belief an antithesis to the Christian vision of an infinitely wise, patient and merciful God. It was, he said, "an inadequate" and a "low view of God.

Promoting and Dispelling Fear
Perhaps the worst part is that this kind of superstitious fear-mongering isn't confined to out lands of the world, where science might have shallower roots. It's right here- the very places with the least excuse for ignorance. Tozer understood this too. 
Superstition is not found only in primitive societies, it is found wherever men are found.
Throughout history, eclipses have been feared and explained and feared all over again. In all cultures, eclipses were terrifying events, as long as the conditions for their occurrences were not recognized.

Often eclipses in ancient times- and in the mega-churches of today- were thought to be grim harbingers of the future. Pre-historians tell us that the first of the celestial phenomena from which predictions were derived were probably eclipses. Eclipses were (and are) sufficiently mysterious and impressive events to sway the gullible into believing almost anything. Priests often used the events for their own purposes, to instill fear among their followers with visions of doom, pestilence and falls of imperial  dynasties.  

The ancient Chinese once believed that dragons in the sky were fighting during a solar eclipse. Ancient texts from the days of Babylon - some two thousand years before Christ- record the interpreted omens. None of them particularly inspiring and hopeful.
During the Greek and Roman times, the causes of eclipses were fairly well-known, at least for the educated minority. The idea that the unlearned masses could every understand was debated. The Roman philosopher Seneca, who lived century after Jesus, said:
"Since the cause of being afraid is not to know, isn't it very worthwhile to know, so we can be unafraid? How much better it is to inquire into the causes and, in fact, to be intent on this with the whole of our mind," because "there is nothing greater than this: to know nature."
He also noted that “no one observes the moon until it is eclipsed—then cities raise a din, then everyone on his own behalf makes a racket out of groundless superstition.” (And others predict the destruction of Israel.) 
Of course, Seneca- unlike Pastor Hagee- seems to be remarkably naive when it came to make good use of the ignorance of the semi-educated.

Charlatans of our Age
Even in our so-called enlightened age, charlatans have made good use of predictable and explicable natural phenomena like eclipses to fool their naive followers. 
 Even Christopher Columbus engaged in this crafty chicanery. With the help of an almanac that forecast  a lunar eclipse, Columbus told native chiefs in Jamaica that God was displeased with them for cutting off the free food deliveries to his hungry crew. And when on the night of February 29, 1504, the moon disappeared, the natives panicked and gave Columbus all he wanted. (Even Mark Twain's hero in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court pulled a similar stunt.)

Today, that old eclipse trick is just part of a larger trend. On subjects as diverse as evolution, the spread of disease, the causes of natural disasters, the nature of human sexuality, and the causes and effects of climate change, science is being challenged by ignorance and superstition, led primarily - but by no means, exclusively- by religious leaders.

This trend was duly noted decades ago by Carl Sagan. He pointed at a society “clutching our crystals and religiously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline…we slide, almost without noticing, into superstition and darkness.” 

None of this matters, of course. At various times this year, the moon will turn red but the world won't end. The state of Israel will still be around. The long awaited nuclear war between the Jewish state, the Arabs and the Russians will be postponed for yet another day. More importantly, absolutely nobody in San Antonio will be even the slightest dismayed that they had been deceived by their pastor. 
Their credulity will remained untouched and life will go on.

Dark ages don't happen over night, you know.