Now that I've had a chance to sit down and study Glenn Beck's entire weekend speech, please allow me to follow up on my earlier post.
I found a lot to like in Beck's speech. As I said previously, he gave an inspiring and emotional address. Yet if this was the same Glenn Beck that was on the radio and television every day, I wager he would not be the divisive figure he has become. I know his right-wing/libertarian politics make him an automatic target in our hyperpartisan society, but I also know he's made several verbal missteps, like calling President Obama a racist. He says he regrets that, by the way.
The address played out much like a sermon, with Beck repeatedly calling on us to turn to GOD, or turn back to HIM. He asked us not to wallow in our mistakes. "Pick up your stick!" he challenged us, referring to Moses and his staff. "It has nothing to politics; it has everything to do with GOD," he said. He did not attack the president or anybody in the administration. He did not attack liberals. He did not attack Muslims. He said we must defend ourselves against smears and lies, but we must defend those we disagree with who are "honest and have integrity."
That's a tall order for a lot of us. Beck didn't call out anybody for smears and lies; that wasn't the point of the rally. We know that it happens, however, across the political spectrum, and we just can't stop doing it. That stick we're told to pick up is used to beat others over the head.
I found Beck's point on truth intriguing: "It only matters when you tell the truth and you know it's going to hurt you. It's not going to help your side!"
Would Beck and conservatives be willing to accept that they don't have all the answers? Would they occasionally admit that a Democrat came up with a good idea now and then, or simply say dismissively and derisively, "Democrats and liberals have no good ideas. That's why we're right!" Left wingers, you're not off the hook either. Would you please stop treating "family values" as some ancient relic and toss your vision of conservatives as oppressive hyper-Puritans? (Even Puritans weren't all puritanical, as I have found.) Putting it simply, would more of us admit we're wrong when we are? "The truth will make you miserable first, by it will set you free," Beck said.
"We are all Americans," Beck said. I gather that includes President Obama, notwithstanding the dismaying rumors abut his citizenship and his religion that won't go away. Even if a camera were to broadcast Obama kneeling in church every Sunday, I suppose we would still have people claiming he's a closet Muslim because he's not conservative enough for them. As Simon and Garfunkel once sung, "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."
I could have done without Beck's shots at "the media." On the size of the crowd: "If that's coming from the media, GOD only knows how many [people are here]." On his remarks: "And I know the media will make that into 'And the most crazy thing he said.'" Fine, Mr. Beck. Keep on bashing "the media," lumping all press types together as the boogeyman without drawing any distinction between those reporters making an honest living for peanuts and the political wonks. It's chic, it's hip, it's the in thing to do. By the way, with high-rated talk shows on television and radio, you're a part of "the media" too.
A final word about prayer: while I admire Beck for encouraging us to pray on our knees, you shouldn't feel you're less of a Christian if you bow your head while standing or sit on the floor, holding your Bible with head nodded. JESUS taught us praying is not about making a spectacle of ourselves before GOD (Matthew 6:5-8) but coming to HIM in privacy and in honesty, because GOD knows what's on our mind already, before your knees even hit the floor. JESUS also says, if you seek GOD in prayer, HE will answer you, sitting or standing (Luke 11:9-10).