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hey, megalomanaic

I'm very sleepy today. It's afternoon; I'm still not entirely dressed. I woke up just before noon. I have my reasons though, and though it wasn't an exciting match of England vs. the United States that kept me up until all hours, nor watching a movie with friends, I'm rather glad I stayed up.

Last night, I was up watching a stream of Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Now, frequent readers of this blog space will know that I do not like Glenn Beck. Or rather, I don't like his philosophy and influence: his rejection of social justice in the church as a front for communism and Marxism is a ridiculous stance I have discussed at length (above).

That said, I also believe in giving those I disagree with a voice, as long as it contributes to productive discussion. So with that in mind, I settled into bed last night, computer on my lap, snarky twitter on full blast, ready to listen and think. (For the record, I tend to respond better to people I disagree with, at least on a political level, if I get all the snark out of the way while I'm listening to them - that way it doesn't color my eventual analysis. This sounds weird, I know, but it seems to work for Glenn Beck and O'Reilly - I'm a Jon Stewart kind of gal).

And what Beck had to say scared me. Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally is an entity that no one is really sure what it was about, other than possibly Beck himself. It's supposedly a non-partisan, non-political, rally to raise money for a charity benefiting ... I think war veterans? But Beck's discussion of it leading up to it confuses things - there is much talk of "reclaiming" the civil rights movement, whatever that means, and "restoring honor" to America, again an unclear term. Many of its attendees clearly thought it was a tea party rally, and the blogosphere often referred to it as such. I'm still not entirely sure what it accomplished, other than giving Beck an enormous platform from which to lay out his entire political philosophy.

However, if there was any doubt of Beck's stance on the line between church and state, no one can wonder anymore after his sermon yesterday. That sermon - one of the longest and vaguest arguments for an American theocracy I've ever heard - should have scared every single one of Glenn Beck's viewers who identifies with the Judeo-Christian tradition, and with Jesus Christ as the Son of God. In short, the man is a heretic.

Here's why.

Beck began the lead up to the rally 40 days ago when he asked his audience to get on their knees and pray - to pray for America, to pray for our government, to pray that we get back on "the right track." Before he took the stage, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's niece, Alveda King (who is not, as she calls herself, a doctor - she has an honorary doctorate, but has not earned the title she uses), spoke about accepting prayer back into the public square and back into schools. There was no doubt that what was meant by prayer is prayer in the Judeo-Christian tradition, not any other sort. This is one of the first signs we have of the "America turn back to God" thesis of the rally.

Then Beck stepped up to the plate. No transcript has been posted yet, so I am having to go based on quotes I have culled from other online (reliable) sources, and my own notes. But what he had to say should cause every Christian viewer of his to rethink their lockstep march to his drum.

In the first section of the speech, Beck told us the story of Moses and his fight for the people of Israel against Pharaoh. He repeated several times that we Americans need to "pick up our stick," ostensibly to show the honor of God/America, as Moses did. We need to stand up and listen to what the founding fathers/the burning bush told us to do - it was unclear what exactly was meant as he jumped from burning bush to founding fathers so rapidly I didn't quite catch the connection.

Beck also believes that America is the world's savior. There is no doubt about this, as he said so in his speech. He also commented at several separate points to the extent that "America has set man free," saying so directly at one point. Within the first few minutes, he referred to the Constitution and the founding documents as "American Scripture." He told us in the rally yesterday that we all need to go to "God Boot Camp," so that we can be the Americans who "rush in at the last second to save the world."

It's all beautiful rhetoric - take back the country for God, God wants us to be this and that, America is specially blessed.

But it's all wrong.

Beck would like to imagine us (Americans) as the Hebrews and himself as Moses, pick up the staff that God had touched and rallying his people, shouting at the scary big government, "LET MY PEOPLE GO." Beck's exegesis here, however, is severely lacking. Moses was not reclaiming the people of Israel so that they could get out from under the thumb of big government. He was reclaiming his people so that they could know who they are as God's chosen. It's a subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Moses's gathering of the people resulted in them being nomads, wandering government-less in the desert for a whole generation. Even after that, the Jewish people have rarely had a time when they had a free country to themselves to rule. Jesus was born into the regime of Herod, after the Jewish people - God's chosen, and the only people who have EVER been identified as God's chosen - were scattered in the Diaspora. Granted, my Jewish history is a little fuzzy (it has been 4 years since my last class on the subject), but I do know that the Jews never really got their promised land - they're STILL waiting, still waiting for that promise of God's chosen to be fulfilled completely.

And let's not forget: we have to keep in mind that when the Jews did have a government, it was a big one - one that dictated taking care of the poor, that used money taken in the form of taxes to help the less fortunate, that, every fifty years, made all private property revert back to the original owners, and celebrated the idea that private ownership is a figment of the imagination - if everything is God's, then I cannot possibly own it.

What Beck has done, then, is ignore all that Jewish history, look at the Moses story, and supplant "Americans" for every mention of "Hebrews." It's some quick sleight of hand, but it's important to note for the rest of his heresy.

With Americans taking the place of the Hebrews, and the Exodus now turned around into the story of getting out from under the thumb of government rather than being reclaimed as God's people under God's law, a dangerous idea begins to take hold. If Americans - true Americans being those who follow an undefined, but probably Judeo-Christian God - then we must reclaim the country for God. America is clearly blessed by God, and our lives show his enriching. Government becomes the evil in the story, rather than the hardness of one man's heart. Government becomes the whipping boy for all that is bad, conveniently forgetting that the Jews then set up a vastly complicated and invasive theocracy in which they were the ruling class. Government is evil, and therefore we must take back the government for God.

America, then, is painted as this divine being that has been shoved off track by those who want to expand the government, by those who want to use the tax money for helping the people on whom this government depends. America becomes both victim and savior.

That's a scary thought.

What Beck has created and espoused here is no less than a civic religion, a nation worship, in which America playing the part of God. The idea that we could possibly have God on our side specially blessing our country, and guiding us to be the savior of all is a megalomaniacal, ethnocentric complex of extensive proportions.

America is just over 200 years old, a baby in western civilization's terms, even if you take the extremely conservative estimate that the Earth itself is only 6,000 years old. Who was saving the world before now?

Oh right. Jesus.

And here is where everyone should have bristled: By painting America as the savior of the world, Beck causes us to forget that kingdoms of this world are transient things, wiped away as so much dust. Massive empires have come before and fallen before, and many will come and fall after us. None of those - many of which were declared to be eternal and live eternally - are still standing. The Babylonians? Gone. The Romans? Gone. The Turks? Gone. The Brits? Failed. The Mongols? Gone. Napolean? Dead and rotting. Alexander the Great? Long turned to dust. Constantine? Dead, ages ago, right along with his government.

Every single Emperor and Empire that has existed before us, and who will come after us, has thought they had God on their side. In Ancient Rome, Caesar is a God.

Each and every single one of those empires is now gone, barely remembered by the high school students who are taught about them, relegated to the study of PhD's as academic interest.

America will be no different. Now, whether we fall in a 100 years or a 1000, there is the one thing that is certain: We will fall. We will become a relic of the empire we once had.

We are not God's kingdom.

We never were. The founding fathers knew that when they were writing - they were smart men - and that is why they attempted to give us plenty of freedoms and to give citizens a voice. They did not seek to install a theocracy, as that was what they just left. And they were just men - they were not the divine hand of God giving us a means to save the rest of the world. Beck's own faith (Mormonism) came after the separation of church and state, a faith that was only allowed to develop because of the separation Beck's beloved founding fathers so carefully set up. Having America be pictured as "the savior of the universe," then, supplants the founding fathers careful declarations with a theocracy of Beck's own choosing.

Jesus tells us quite clearly in John 18:36: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (ESV).

If we were fighting for an earthly kingdom, as Christians, we could willingly take up arms, install an oppressive theocracy, and invent our own definition of justice, which involves private ownership, prayer in schools, and no abortion.

But that is precisely what Christ cautions against: He does not want us fighting for that which will pass away, as every earthly kingdom does. He does not want us viewing government as anything more than a means to an end, and He certainly doesn't want us to view anything but Him as savior of the universe. He did not come to install a civic religion. Instead, He came to teach us how to love one another, to be peaceable people, and to live for eternity, not for a quickly passing empire.

Glenn Beck: you are not my Jesus, and America is not my God. I will not stand for this civic religion that supplants my all loving, all sacrificing, communal, Trinitarian, personal, timeless, all knowing, and all powerful Lord of the Universe with a piddly government that was created by men and is run by men. My God is so much bigger than your America, and his justice is not yours.

As was oft-quoted by people in your rally yesterday, Mr. Beck, I repeat the words of the big government supporting, freedom shouting, everyone loving, possibly socialist man who would have ended up on your blackboard if he was alive today: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Freedom from government means nothing if you're starving in the street. And in helping that person, whether it be through transforming oppressive institutions that harm their rights, even if it means rejecting private ownership, I will do it. Gladly.

That, Mr. Beck, is where my honor lies. Where is yours?


  1. genius...... pure genius.

    I have nothing but respect for someone who actually LISTENS to what their opposition has to say.... and THEN is able to oh-so-eloquently voice their disagreements in such a manner as not to personally offend or attack, but simply to air the hidden truth(s).

    GREAT post!!!

  2. Great post Diana. I agree with you that Beck is a problem. Along with others like John Hagee. I had asked a pastor in a medium sized church once why is the US flag on the stage next to the podium? Are we to be focusing on God and not government when we come to worship? In fact should this not cause us to question where our worship really lies? Is it the worship of God or the worship of Nationalism? I think that far to often it is the latter. I have never understood, and never will, how we can claim to worship the Prince of Peace while we proclaim the "duty" we have to kill our fellow humans.

  3. I did not watch the speech, but I read about the rally, and I hadn't even thought of the points you mentioned.

    What jumped out at me was the alarm of someone who is arguably not a Christian (as far as I know, members of the Church of LDS don't believe in the Trinity) co-opting Christian language to forward his political viewpoints.

  4. The rally was a great success. It brought all Americans together who are fed up with the direction the country is going. Lets be real here, the liberals have managed to screw things up badly in just a short time and God and morals have faded away from our society. Americans want it back, back to what the founding fathers had intended.

    “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” - George Washington

    The rally size was anywhere from 300,000 - 500,000. They raised $5.5 Million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children, wounded personnel, and their families. I guess that's a bad thing, huh?

    I applaud Beck and his willingness to set this up and fight for what's right. I think it made a big statement. With all polls showing a big lead for Conservatives, November can't get here soon enough!


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  6. "He does not want us fighting for that which will pass away"

    Actually he does and tells us in Paul's letter to the Ephesians..

    Eph. 6:10-18

    10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    "If we were fighting for an earthly kingdom, as Christians, we could willingly take up arms, install an oppressive theocracy, and invent our own definition of justice, which involves private ownership, prayer in schools, and no abortion."

    Were not fighting for an earthly Kingdom but a Heavenly one. That means we act as Christians. I think prayer should be back in school. Our Constitution was inspired by the Bible. And abortions and homosexuality which most liberals deem as "acceptable" is indeed a sin and the cause for the moral decay in this country..

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

    "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

  7. Vince: I apologize for not responding sooner. I was on vacation all this past week and haven't had a chance to sit down and write a response yet, but I've definitely read what you had to say. And, per usual, I must disagree.

    1. Quick fact check: The estimated number of attendance for the rally was 87,000, far short of the 300-500,000 that Beck quoted (source:

    2. I'm happy that money was raised for a charity. If you've read any more of this blog, you'd know that I'm all for helping the suffering. I'm fine (glad, even!) with that part of the rally. What I wrote about was what I'm NOT fine with - the blending together of God and State, and the rhetoric that makes it seem okay, and the way that becomes an engine for oppression. That's why I wrote the blog post.

    3. You bring up Paul's comments about the armor of God in Ephesians as evidence that we are to fight for an earthly kingdom. I frankly don't see how this verse even applies, considering Paul is talking at the very most in a metaphorical sense. He does not think there is a literal "sword of truth" we must find and wield. Also, in the section you quoted, Paul tells us that: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

    Let me pull out just the first part of that for you: "OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD." It is not against an earthly kingdom, something Paul identifies quite clearly - he's very clear that the things we do struggle against are powers of a "dark world," not earthly kingdoms. Paul also states in Philippians 3:20 that "our citizenship is in heaven." Paul makes continual references throughout his letters to various nations that he believes God's kingdom to be something that extends beyond national heritage, beyond Caesar, beyond the nation of Israel - he identifies himself, particularly in Galatians and Philippians, with a "nation" of God that is not marked by circumcision, but by the blood of Jesus Christ - by a belief that unites them, not an earthly theocracy. He says in his letter to the Romans to pay taxes, to give the governing authorities respect, because we, as Christians, are members of a different kingdom. This is the principle Paul is merely reflecting from Jesus, who commented that one should "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

    Paul, before he became a major evangelist and one of the main reasons the church spread so quickly in the early days, was a FIERCE nationalist. There was nothing better for him than serving his country, and a major part of that service involved persecution of Christians. What he exhibits in his letters, then, is a 180 degree turn - that zeal he had previously applied to his nationalism now went to his new found Christianity, and national borders suddenly didn't matter. Why do you think all the different letters have such weird titles? It's because he was writing to all sorts of different nations - different churches in different areas. National boundaries didn't really matter to him at all, and so to use him in an argument for nationalism, especially the sort of American Christianized Nationalism that worships the founding fathers alongside Jesus and the Holy Spirit is ... well, baffling.

  8. (part 2):

    4. You write: "Were not fighting for an earthly Kingdom but a Heavenly one. That means we act as Christians. I think prayer should be back in school. Our Constitution was inspired by the Bible. And abortions and homosexuality which most liberals deem as "acceptable" is indeed a sin and the cause for the moral decay in this country.."

    I don't understand this at all. It starts with basically my argument, but reaches an illogical conclusion: If we are fighting only for a heavenly kingdom, what does it matter whether or not we have prayer in schools (granted, even when I expressed conservatism growing up, that's one part of it I never understood). It's not as though we're not allowed to pray in schools - I say this as someone who attended prayer meetings, weekly, AT MY HIGH SCHOOL. It is the idea of state-mandated prayer to a state-specified deity that is the problem. An express separation of church and state is necessary in this case. What do you tell the student who is Muslim? Hindu? Buddhist? Shinto? Atheist? Agnostic? State mandated prayer in schools is incredibly narrow and just...incomprehensible.

    You cite "moral decay" but you don't give me evidence of it, and as it seems to be the main thrust of your point, I'm going to focus on that. Here's how I see my generation, the generation that is so morally decayed and bankrupt:

    I see a generation that is more concerned about loving those in the world who are suffering than almost any generation before it and is moved to action in great leaps and bounds.

    I see a generation of people who willingly love others no matter what they've done in the past, and show them the love of Jesus Christ through caring for their physical, emotional, and yes, spiritual, needs.

    I see a generation that looks hopefully away from the divisiveness that overzealous nationalism naturally causes and sees a world where, say, a North Korean and South Korean can care for each other. A world that does not consider country line when deciding whether or not a person is deserving of respect, love and basic rights.

    I see a generation that is more hopeful and more willing to stand up for those who are hurting, more willing to educate themselves and learn about their opponents before going off on them, more willing to listen to people they disagree with, more willing to give an open ear, eye, and heart to correct the injustices in the world than any other.

    Vince, you look at my generation and claim that we are washed up and morally bankrupt. I look at my generation and see a hope for finally getting things right, and that means making sure that people are free to make the choices they want to make - even if I disagree with them. Even if we disagree, my generation will still sit down for coffee with you and listen openly. I'd say that's pretty commendable, and not, as you put it, a world in "moral decay."

  9. So you totally bypassed the question on Homosexuality and your stance. I gave you a verse in the Bible and can give you several more where God says it's a sin and wrong. Do you stand up for gay marriage even when the Bible explicitly says its immoral? With gay agendas and groups trying to get society to be "OK" with it we are in moral decay. In fact lets bring incest and beastiality into it too. Those people should be free to do that too right?

    "If we are fighting only for a heavenly kingdom, what does it matter whether or not we have prayer in schools "

    Do you not want people to go to heaven? So lets live comfortably with one another and make sure to not step on anyones toes? Why do you think Jesus had so many people who didn't like him? Because he didn't hide the fact who he was and what he stood for and what he came to do. He taught love but make no mistake he didn't waver on what he deemed was right or wrong.

  10. "I look at my generation and see a hope for finally getting things right, and that means making sure that people are free to make the choices they want to make - even if I disagree with them."

    So lets let people do whatever they want? lets not make a point to say we disagree with them? that doesnt make a lot of sense. That sounds more like living for the world, not for Christ.

  11. Vince:

    I believe, as is clear throughout this blog and, I hope, throughout my life, that ultimately listening to what someone has to say, being their friend and actually being in relationship with someone is far more effective evangelism toward "people going to heaven" than so called "drive by evangelism" with a tract, an awkward conversation, and no follow up. State mandated prayer in schools would do more to damage our relationships with unbelievers than not having it does. Allowing a dialogue and a discussion to go in natural paths rather than guiding it purposefully toward an artificial and awkward evangelism opportunity is the by far more effective way to do things. In other words, be friends with the person you're trying to convert, see them as a real person with their own views and problems, and naturally, faith will come up in the discussion. Mandating faith through the state only serves to make religion legalistic and prevents a healthy organic discussion.

    Part of the shock value of Jesus' ministry was that he WASN'T there to set up a State-run religion and gain back the theocracy they once had. That's part of the shock of his crucifixion: How can he be "King of the Jews" if he allows himself to be killed? All of that signals to the believer that what Jesus came to Earth for was not an earthly kingdom - he lived out his ministry in relationship with people, never once saying that "we need to make a law" about this. Jesus makes it very clear (re-read the Sermon on the Mount) that the Kingdom he is bringing is about people's hearts and minds, not about their actions. Laws can only cover the outer actions of a human, and faith changes hearts and minds. But you can't make a law saying "you must change your mind." That is why you can't legislate against racism, but you can legislate against the actions that extend from racism - i.e., hate crimes. And this is why there needs to be a healthy separation between the church and the state - without such, we create many more enemies than friends. It's much harder to have a discussion about faith with an enemy than it is with someone who is your friend.

    As for homosexuality: I despise the equating of a gay person who wants to enter into a lifelong commitment (with all of its benefits and problems) with the person s/he loves...with someone who wants to hump a goat. The two things are completely different, and for you to use them to mean the same thing shows a profound lack of understanding of homosexuality in general. Secondly, I have addressed homosexuality in other places on my blog, namely, here:

    As for more discussion of "getting people into heaven" goes, this episode of Ira Glass' "This American Life" (WBEZ Chicago Public Radio) covers the issue of evangelism techniques of the church in a 13 minute segment called "Raw Sex": It's well worth a listen.

    And for more of my thoughts about how getting to know a person is more of a sign of Jesus' love than legislating against their lifestyle, I recommend this past entry:

    Or this one:

    Have a good day.

  12. "I despise the equating of a gay person who wants to enter into a lifelong commitment (with all of its benefits and problems) with the person s/he loves...with someone who wants to hump a goat."

    Why? It's all sin. It's immoral and part of the decay in our society currently. I can name you several noted ethics professors who are very liberal and see no difference at all. Since the argument always goes back to that animals cant consent to sex , what about two consenting adult relatives? What if they love each other and just want to get married? Are you going to stand up for them as well and their pursuit of a "lifelong committment"? Or is incest or we'll even throw in gay incest, worse than homosexuality?

    This is the part of being a liberal is quite hard I imagine. I read your post on homosexuality and basically you say you don't know if God says its a sin, is this correct? Even when I give you direct verses like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 where it specifically says homosexual offenders will not enter the kingdom of God. Why do you think God would say that homosexuals would not be welcome if there's absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality?

    I'm thinking that you already knew though what the Bible said and have chosen to ignore it. I could be wrong though. I'm not trying to judge you in any way as I am quite sinful myself as everyone is but I just don't see how you turn a blind eye on topics that are very clear in Bible. I will agree on one thing though that gay people are looked upon as more sinful than other sins. Most churches have embedded this stereotype. A sin is a sin. Period. The thing that differentiates is when two gay people get married they are continuously sinning. Btw I read above where you said "your generation", just want to point out i am still in my twenties. "Still" is the operative word lol. Anyway just to let you know this isnt some senior citizen speaking to you.


  13. Vince - I apologize for what must look like an ignoring of your comment - I don't know if you marked it as spam yourself, or if my spam filter was just being finicky.

    I found this comment incredibly condescending, Vince, and was actually a little relieved when it didn't show up on my blog. I actually received a copy of it via email (all comments get emailed to me the instant they are posted), but when I came over here to respond, it did not show up, so I didn't bother to respond to something that apparently wasn't there. But today when messing with comment settings, I found the spam filtered comments, and found this one sitting in there, thus why it is appearing now.

    But to contend that homosexuals are no better than those who want to rape animals degrades them and shows a complete lack of understanding of homosexual people. One of my closest friends is bisexual, and I find it extremely hurtful that you would deal with something like this in such a callous and condescending manner. Incest, on the other hand, is very often not consensual, and I would contend that the amount of people would wish to engage in a consensual relationship that involves incest is negligible, unlike the amount of homosexuals who are already in committed, long term relationships with their partners.

    And here's the thing on homosexuality in the Bible: The use of the word "homosexual" as a translation for the Greek word, Arsenokoitai, specifically in that verse in Corinthians, didn't appear until newer translations of the 1950s, and it's unclear whether or not it's a good translation. The word does not appear in the Greek before this instance, and there's not really a way we can tell exactly what Paul meant by that comment - are we transposing a 20th century understanding of homosexuality on a first century Greek world?

    Since there's no real way to tell, I'd rather err on the side of love than hate.

    And for the record: Your comment about how you imagine it must be quite hard to be a liberal was condescending and ignorant of the facts of the discussion. My point was that the teaching on homosexuality is so unclear, and so vehemently used to wrongly justify hatred, excommunication and has caused so much pain to those who are otherwise wonderful people that I see no good coming of condemning someone for something that is not even for sure condemned in the Bible. You write that it's something totally and utterly clear, but it's not, and so I leave myself open to that possibility by refusing to shoot first and ask questions later.


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