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Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Rising in theaters for one night only tonight (3/23): Four Blood Moons

Four Blood Moons is playing in about 700 locations across the country tonight only. The film starts at 7:30 PM local time. Following the closing credits, a panel discussion will feature several participants the film (i.e. an astrophysicist, an historian, a rabbi) talking deeper about the subject matter. For information on finding a theater near you, click here.

Synopsis (from the film’s website) FOUR BLOOD MOONS is a theatrical one night event exploring a rare lunar phenomenon that over the centuries has accompanied both tragedy and triumph for the Jewish people. From Pastor John Hagee’s New York Times best-selling book of the same name (750,000 copies in print from Worthy Publishing)…

…“The heavens are ‘God’s billboard.’ He’s been sending signals to earth, and we haven’t been picking them up,” Hagee says. “Two blood moons, in 2014 and 2015, point to dramatic events in the Middle East and, as a result, changes in the whole world.”…

…FOUR BLOOD MOONS combines scripture, science, history and big-screen live action spanning centuries, including previous similar lunar occurrences and the earth-shaking changes around them. It also examines our current four blood moon cycle—and its possible meaning for Israel, the Middle East and the world.

An array of historians, religious scholars and commentators appear in FOUR BLOOD MOONS and offer their insight—filmmaker, speaker and author Dinesh D’Souza; radio host and author Dennis Prager; and noted author and historian David Barton to name just a few.

Details: So what is a Blood Moon?

According to EarthSky.org, a lunar tetrad (aka blood moon) is defined as  four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons).

John Hagee, the sometimes controversial senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas,  notes that only three times in the past 500 years have four blood moons (or tetrads) occurred back to back and on major Jewish holy days.

1493 — Spain’s rulers had expelled all Jews and Columbus had discovered America, an eventual haven for the Jewish people.
1948-49 — The founding of Israel.
1967-68 — Following the Six-Day War, Jerusalem rejoins the state of Israel.

The fourth tetrad, he says, began April 15, 2014, on Passover. In October last year, the second blood moon appeared on the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as Sukkot). Blood moons in 2015 land on the same holy days.

Talking with…Four Blood Moons producer Rick Eldridge

All interesting stuff. I haven’t actually previewed the film — and I’m wary of trying to predict the future based on signs — but I did have the opportunity to talk with its producer Rick Eldridge — whose noteworthy previous credits include the 2006 faith-themed drama 2006’s The Ultimate Gift and its 2013 sequel The Ultimate Life. A third film in the Ultimate trilogy (The Ultimate Legacy) will begin filming this summer.

JWK: Unlike the drama The Ultimate films, which I previously interviewed you about, this film is a documentary — albeit with dramatic reenactments. So, this is a bit of a change of pace.

RICK ELDRIDGE: It is.  I did Running the Sahara many years ago which was a documentary with Matt Damon and I’ve done some shorter things too that were of a documentary nature. But it’s definitely a departure from some of the dramatic things, although we had quite a few dramatic reenactments in this film that really were quite cinematic and worked really well. We’re very pleased with them.

JWK: How did the movie come about?

RE: Pastor Hagee and his group had been working with a management team that actually had done some marketing and that kind of work for me over the years. When they kind of came up with the idea of making a movie, they contacted me and asked if I would be interested. I kinda felt the same way as we just talked about. I was kind of like “Wow, that’s a departure for me.” But I met with them and just felt very strongly about the subject matter after I read it. I didn’t know Pastor Hagee before this but it’s certainly been a great experience. It’s been fantastic to get to know them and understand a little more of their work and ministry. I think the subject matter is very compelling.

JWK: In your own words, what is the significance of the “blood moon” as it pertains to science, history and theology?

RE: If you look at the calendar, there are quite a few points in history where we talk about blood moons, the difference to me is the tetrad — which is four blood moons in succession. We actually have an astrophysicist in our movie that kind of explains that a little bit. It is a rare phenomenon. When you look at it as a believer — and you put a Biblical perspective on it — it’s even more of a phenomenon because it falls in each case on high holy days on the Jewish calendar. If you look back in history, that’s happened only three other times in the last several hundred years…It usually ushered in significant change in the Middle East and, specifically, as to Israel and God’s chosen people. So, that’s some of the correlations that Hagee came up with. After looking at that, I said “This is really interesting.”

JWK: I will say the correlations are interesting. 1493 was around the time Columbus found America which, as noted in the press material, became an eventual haven for Jewish people. In 1948, Israel became  a country and in 1967 the famed Six-Day War led to Jerusalem becoming a part of Israel. So, it seems to me, the blood moon has been associated with positive events for the Jewish people.

RE: Generally, it has — although it’s brought about a lot of heartache and destruction. War is never a good thing. There’s been a lot of that.

I guess I heard in the news about the blue moon that happened in April of last year but this was way before I was considering the movie or anything like that. You look at right after that…and you’re thinking “Wow, the blood moon happened in April and then we had the ISIS issue, we had the ebola issue, we had the conflict in the Gaza Strip area. With all of this going on, it does seem significant.

The thing I wanted to do was not really to predict a date and a time and a place for anything. I don’t think that’s appropriate and it’s not what we wanted to do — but I think it’s certainly something we should look at and something we should pay attention to and come to some kind of terms as to how we process that ourselves. As Hagee says, things are about to change and I think we’re seeing that already in our world.

JWK: Certainly there are lots of things going on currently regarding Israel — including Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reelection and the American administration’s response to that. And, of course, add on to that the nuclear talks with Iran. It does seem like a lot of things are converging.

RE: It really does. In the (film), we clearly state as well about the Biblical Scripture that says “Those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.” That’ s spoken to. There’s a really big piece of the movie that discusses the relationship that the United States — from its foundation — has with Israel and with the Jewish people. It’s fascinating and, I think, enlightening and, hopefully, inspirational. It’s also tough to really look at and understand too.

JWK: So, I’m glad to hear you say that you’re not taking it upon yourself to make a prediction about the end of the world or anything like that — but that it is an interesting phenomenon to look at.

RE: It is. (Our) narrator Joe Pags did a phenomenal job. He actually does a lot of work with Glenn Beck…When we wrote the narrative around the story — which, basically, walks you through the whole movie — we said “You know, we want this to be inquisitive.” We want to ask questions. We want to lead the audience in the direction of our story but we don’t want to lead the audience in the direction of a response or an answer. We just want to inform them. He does that in a really fantastic way. He takes a very middle-of-the-road approach which is exactly what we wanted to do.

One of the things that we really hope happens out of this is that it creates a lot of opportunity for conversations. After the movie, people can go have a cup of coffee and talk about it and begin to dig deeper as to what they really do believe.

JWK: I’m not trying trying to generate controversy but I am interested in your response to a WorldNetDaily report about an alleged dispute between Pastor Hagee and Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington. The report claims that Pastor Hagee pretty much ripped off his blood moons research from Pastor Biltz.

RE: I know Mark. I actually met Mark through the process of making the movie. In fact, if you look at the beginning of Hagee’s book, he credits Mark with being the person that brought to his attention the whole thing about the blood moon. Of course, Pastor Hagee went and did a lot of his own research and came up with his own determinations about that…I think they’re friends. Hagee’s organization (is) Christians United for Israel. Mark is a northeastern representative of that. So, they work very closely together. I think that, certainly, Pastor Hagee, when he heard about the research that had been done by Mark, went and did his own…He thinks quite a bit of Mark (and) Mark’s in the movie.

JWK: That’s interesting — because, according to the WND report, he was interviewed for the film but his participation was left o the cutting room floor.

RE: That’s not true. I haven’t read the whole article but I know a little bit about it. It just came out. I think that’s a little bit misconstrued because, I can tell you this, Mark was very gracious to us. He came and did the interview. He gave us some fantastic sound bites and spoke very highly of Pastor Hagee. He had a high degree of respect for Pastor Hagee as Hagee did for him. I had never met him but when we discussed who needs to be a part of the movie, he was top of the list…So, I think that article kind of misleads you a little bit as to the controversy. There’s not really one. And Mark is not on the cutting room floor. In fact, he has multiple sound bites in the movie.

JWK: So, the idea that he was cut out of the movie is just flat-out wrong?

RE: Yeah.

JWK: The WND article also claims that Hagee gets some dates wrong. 

RE: This is kind of funny, in a way. Everybody knows that Columbus made his first journey (to the New World)  in 1492. The blood moon was 1493. We cover that in the movie. 1493 is the Spanish Inquisition. That’s when Columbus sailed again with 17 ships that were mostly full of a lot of people that had been cast out of Spain because of their faith. 1493 is the corrected date but ’92 is that period of unrest that kind of began that process of discovering the New World. So, it’s actually ’92-’93. The blood moon happened in ’93. I don’t think there’s a day and a date and a time that we want to put on things. It’s not like on September 12th, 1492 this happened. I think it ushered in a period of time in history when that first blood moon hit in ’93 that carried through — again a tetrad of four blood moons — that happened and created great promise for the world and for the Jewish people who came and flourished in America.

(Update: In a WND article published since our Thursday conversation, Biltz seems to back away from fanning controversy, saying “Yes I am in his movie. I most certainly am. And to me the important thing is getting the message out because I want the whole world to wake up.”)

JWK: It’s kind of interesting that you talk about an instance of four blood moons in 1493 and then we fast forward to 1948, 1967 and this year. That’s a large gap between the first and the latter three which are clustered pretty closely together.

RE: It is. Obviously, this is all based on the heavens and how it happened. Nobody scheduled these things — except our Lord. If you look at the NASA Lunar Calendar you can see, in context, how these things happen…There have been a lot of other blood moons and a lot of other sequences you can refer to to but none that are tetrads. That’s the rarity — four in a row. And then the fact that we as believers look at the references (to) a Jewish holy day, that again is just an incredible coincidence, if you want to call it that.

I think it is God speaking to us. It you look in The Bible, many, many times (it) talks about (God) speaking through the stars and the heavens. We, as Christians, even look at the star over Bethlehem (which led to) the Baby Jesus. So, many times in Scripture it’s referenced that way. It’s worth looking into.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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