Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck: about as good a preacher as you'd expect

HuffPo characterizes Beck's rally at the Lincon Memorial as "more like a revival."

Yeah, I get it. There's a lot of artless God-talk in it (so far, I'm only 5 minutes in, and he doesn't seem to be slowing down any. Oh wait, a prayer break. Excellent. There's nothing more inspiring than hearing the name of Jesus invoked in tones of wroth. I can almost feel the spittle, and I'm not even there, and this thing was over hours ago.)

Beck begins with, "America today begins to turn back to God." What is this, performative speech? He says it and it is so? (Like, say, "let there be light?") Or perhaps, let's be generous, it's a declarative, a simple description of what he sees happening. Alrighty then, what's the evidence of such a felicitous occurence?

Beck: "For too long this country has wandered in darkness...[here Beck's sentence seems to wander about in darkness a bit too, thank God for ellipses]...this country has spent far too long worried about scars, and thinking about the scars and concentrating on the scars. Today, we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished, and the things that we can do tomorrow."

Um, okay. Well, first of all let's play along and pretend that direct speech about America and American history and American people and America's future is not, ahem, political, because Beck assures us that this rally is not political. Whatever. But I'll play along, and treat this as a purely theological sentiment.

This theology SUCKS. (Sorry, Mom. It sucks so hard that not only do I have to say it, I have to capitalize it.) This is cheap grace in an American uniform, Glenn. Or how about another phrase, from an article I just read recently, about the reason why American young people are leaving churches in droves: "moralistic therapeutic deism," a "mutant form of Christianity" that "portrays God as a 'divine therapist' whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem." We've spent too long thinking about our "scars" and now it's time to stop all that half-hearted repenting and just think about the good stuff, so we can feel good about being Americans?! Turning back to God=being proud of our American selves. WTF? Glenn, I'd've rather heard a Jimmy-Allen-style hellfire-and-brimstone bit. I'm serious.

Worse, here's a quote from an attendee, from the HuffPo article: "This country was created by God, our creator. The problem is, the country is becoming Godless," said Greg Rinehart. "[Beck] said that a lot of people have lost Christ. The country is on the verge of becoming chaotic."

Religious message? Certainly. But apolitical? Hardly. In an atmosphere of hostility toward people of other faiths, by which I mean Muslims, which seems only to be increasing, how is this religious sentiment NOT an incendiary, divisive, politically laden sentiment? People without Christ are making this country chaotic. They must be stopped. Hey, let's go torch the mosque site. That'll show 'em Jesus is the Way. Then we can forget the scars and go on being proud of our badass American selves.


Donna Freedman said...

Sorry, I gotta say it:
Seriously: Thanks for being so eloquent.

Doug said...

What really intrigues me about this groundswell movement of pseudo-God enthused nationalism is the emotion behind it--the unconscious drive. My first thought is fear. Fear of all shapes and colors and sizes--insecurity about the changing culture of America, Global uncertainty and seeming 'chaos'; but I keep asking what else is behind this...still chewing on this! Thank JTB!

social democrat said...

I know something about the New Testament and the Gospels, and especially I do know about the Sermon on the Mount. In parable after parable, Jesus tells us that the poor and the powerless are blessed, and that the way to eternal life is not to accumulate wealth and power, but to help those who are weaker and less powerful than ourselves, here, in this life. I don't hear any of that in Beck's so-called theology. I don't know where Beck's theology comes from, but I am certain that it doesn't come from the New Testament.