As a stay-at-home mom with no television access, the radio is a huge part of my news and entertainment world. I often spin the dial while cleaning or cooking, and catch a bit of talk radio. It not only keeps me in the loop, but keeps me company as well. Sometime post 9/11, I became a fan of the Glenn Beck Radio Program. This is back when Beck’s fusion of entertainment and enlightenment was heavy on the entertainment. I resonated with his conservative views and belly laughed at things such as “Moron Trivia.”
Over the years, however, the show and Beck have taken a decided turn towards the serious. I must confess to longing, at times, for a good prank call rather than hour upon hour of warnings and—is there any other word for it?—prophecies regarding the political and economic future of our country. Sometimes listening to G.B. is a bit like being in the mall with my kids when they spot some unfortunately overweight person and proceed to very loudly announce to all those gathered within earshot “Look Mommy, that man’s really fat!” You can’t really argue the facts of their case but it is certainly socially awkward to have it brought to your (and the rest of the mall’s) attention.
I have felt an increasing internal tension as I have listened to Beck’s calls for repentance and a return to our founding values. That tension did not resolve itself as I listened to much of the Restoring Honor rally he hosted in Washington D.C. this past weekend. It wasn’t that I disagreed with any of the basic principles being expressed. I certainly think that our nation, both corporately and as individuals have plenty to repent of, but I am not comfortable with marrying my faith with my allegiance to my nation. Now don’t get me wrong: I certainly think that my faith should permeate every area of my life, those which would be deemed private and those which would fall into the public square. And since our country can be a moral agent for both good and evil, it seems appropriate that we have both pride and shame regarding our nation’s deeds. As I have listened to Mr. Beck call Americans to lives of honor, hope and charity (and expect those who “serve” as our leaders to do the same), I find I can only agree. As I have read the criticisms of those who oppose or are offended by him, I find a great lack of substantive examination and a great deal of name-calling and pettiness.
In the end, I support Beck’s ideals of restoring honor to the lives of our citizens. But I would hope that he would support the idea that it is not in the founders of nation but in the Creator of the universe where our ultimate hope lies. Whether or not we as a nation survive or perish, one day all nations will gather and we the people will discover what it is to be truly free.
I remember when you first recommended G.B. to me. You had me convinced he was 7th day adventist. After listening a while longer, we concluded he was LDS (Mormon). Granted, this discovery is most likely irrelevant, but it reminds me of my 9th grade grammar teacher telling our class that we shouldn’t allow a person’s religious convictions to cloud our perception of the message they shared. Which begs the question, is absolute truth just that, no matter who speaks it?
Occasionally between semesters at Taylor I would work with my dad (doing landscaping) for a little extra spending money. Riding around in the truck, lots of times it was the local Philly-area talk radio, and Glenn Beck was on in the mornings as I recall. Like you, I remember thinking he was humorous and light-hearted.
And consistent with your own observations, sometime over the past few years, he seems to have become much more melodramatic and pessimistic, and I found myself listening to him less and less, and eventually not at all. There have been many cringe-inducing moments this year, such as when Glenn told Christians to “leave their churches” if their pastors brought up the topic of social justice. He’s an entertainer first and foremost, but I fear that much of his audience accepts such ill-informed theological statements as truth, without investigating the issue themselves.
As for the religious content of this recent rally, I thought Russ Moore’s response was good: http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/ It actually reminded me of something posted by Ligonier earlier in the year that I think a lot of American Christians need to remind ourselves of on a regular basis: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/awaiting-city-god/
Thanks for your comments and the additional link. I don’t think I can completely agree with Moore in that I don’t think Beck is out for the money or that he shouldn’t be listened to because he is a Mormon. I am open to being proven wrong but I do still believe in Beck as a person of integrity; for me he is neither the anti-Christ that Keith Olbermann would paint him as nor the second coming of Jesus. I agree with Layla, we should be followers of the trust, whatever the source. Where I feel tension is Beck’s passion toward our national identity; nations, like people, are always a mixed bag of good and evil and the rock we should be clinging to is the Gospel not Plymouth.
All that being said, I don’t find myself listening to Beck anymore, for the simple fact that I am not home at the right time to listen, and (at least for awhile) his podcasts were not free. Click and Clack (Car Talk) and This American Life get my listening ears these days 🙂
I agree with your post on Beck. I keep thinking, hoping that his search for Truth will lead him away from LDS just as CS Lewis and GK Chesterton turned from agnosticism to Christ. Also, I agree, I love the USA and pray that our freedoms continue but if history is any indicator, and I think it is of course, nothing last forever, not here anyway. But one day, someone said, “all will be well and all manner of things will be well.” In the mean time, Go Beck! Love the blog.d