I watched a video called "7 signs of the Apocalypse" from the History Chanel. I found it amusing but overall horribly one sided. They talked as though believing the "7 sings" and believing the book of Revelation were synonymous with believing in a literal and dispensationalist narrative of the End Times. I could have been offended by this but, who's to judge, it's the History Chanel. They introduced folks like Joel Rosenberg and Tim LaHaye as "Bible Scholars" which is a slap in the face to real scholars who actually participate in scholarship. They discussed passages of Revelation without giving a single thought toward what the author may have believed about what he/she was writing in the original context. For example, when they talked about the Antichrist (by the way, they never mentioned that such a word does not show up at all in the text of Revelation) they portrayed him as someone who will be "such a lover of peace" (which hurt my heart because that made people like John Dear, Desmond Tutu, and all of our Mennonite brothers and sisters sound like candidates for the position) that people will want to follow them. They never bothered to mention that Caesar, in the original context of the scripture, was all about Pax Romana which means the Peace of Rome... They didn't even consider that the beast of Revelation could have something to do with Caesar or someone like him--someone who promotes peace but conducts war and conquest. There were no bible scholars interviewed in the video, just dispensationalist propagandists.
Without going into detail, I will say that the overall message of Revelation is a call to oppressed people to carry on in the midst of their oppression because victory is on the other side of martyrdom and a call to wealthy and powerful folks to end their involvement with the systems of death and oppression, to live in such a way that "the beast" might actually want to kill you, and to come out of those systems which kill and oppress God's people. As for the church's faithfulness to this call, there is little to be said outside of obscure stories and individual examples (i.e. Martin Luther King Jr. and "church" efforts such as "the Simple Way"). The Church, especially the American Church, is still quite buddy-buddy with the Beast and quite enticed by the Whore of Babylon.
However, it was interesting at the end of the video to hear from a "Bible Scholar," who has made plenty of money by writing a book and taking advantage of the economic system, who probably lives quite well-off in the United States, and who should know, through the lens of Revelation, that the beast is alive and well in American systems of economics and "defense," that "the book of Revelation has never been read with more earnest true belief than it is today" (Jonathan Kirsch, author of A History of the End of the World). Not only is this arrogant to say, it is profoundly telling.
The dispensationalist perspective on Revelation which calls for a hermeneutic of "decoding" current events and inserting them into the framework of "end times prophesy" is ironically prepositioned to miss the point of Revelation altogether. Someone who can, while looking at our culture where the Church is so heavily involved in the systems of the world and is apparently getting along quite well with them, say that "the book of Revelation has never been read with more earnest true belief than it is today" cannot be someone who actually understands Revelation (unless they have a pitifully bleak outlook on the history of the Church preceding today).
That's the irony of dispensationalism... it predisposes its adherents to blindness toward the message of their most beloved book because it distracts them and entices them to use it as a key to decode symbolic signs of future events.