I was having an online conversation with a Christian who is concerned about the Honor Rally that took place last week in D.C. It is the attachment by Christians to a Mormon, Glenn Beck, that is causing concern among some folks. When my online contact put Hitler and Beck in the same sentence, I thought his concerns were grossly exaggerated.
I decided to do a little research. I wanted to find out who the speakers at the event were and what was said. I watched a video of Sarah Palin’s speech. I watched a part of a meeting the night before where David Barton shared some history. Glenn Beck was on the same stage.
I went on-line for information about the speakers at the event.
I understand the caution of those who are skeptical about events like this. We need to be cautious in this day and time where so few hold to moral absolutes and Biblical truth. If you read the following article, which I found published in the Sun Journal, you should also read the article I’ve linked to at the bottom entitled, The “God” of Glenn Beck. It comes at the issue from another angle.
There are many sides to this issue. I know quite a bit about Mormon theology and know that Joseph Smith claimed that all Christians were incorrect in their beliefs. He said that’s what the angel told him. Smith separated himself from Christians, in proximity and theology. It is clear that Mr. Beck is no Joseph Smith. He has been hanging around too many Christians to make it so.
Mr. Beck is also no Adolph Hitler. If his own version of something like Mein Kamph existed, I’m sure we would all know by now. I don’t watch Mr. Beck’s show, as I don’t have the higher cable channels. From what I have seen and heard, however, anyone who would compare him to Hitler… How does one say it kindly?
My online acquaintance did distance himself from relating Hitler to Beck, and actually had a good point. He thought there were some similarities with the U.S. today and the Germany of 1930. Anyone who has read this blog knows what I think about the problems we face and their source. More than once I have quoted, or published someone else’s take on, valid research done on the sad state of affairs within the churches. Hitler’s rise to the throne can only be explained by the condition in the churches of his time.
I will note one criticism of The “God” of Glenn Beck article. At the end, it states:
But since the god taught by the LDS Church, which Glenn Beck is believing in, is clearly not the God of the Bible, then according to the opening text above the Mormon god doesn’t even exist. And so the question now becomes: Just what exactly is a non-existent god going to do for America even if she does turn to it?
When did any of the Christians who attended the event say they were becoming Mormons?
I found the following, eye-witness account of the event well-written and insightful.
There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear . . .
I went to the Beck rally with some unintended mental baggage. I had spent the previous day in two museums: The Ford Theater and The Holocaust Museum.
From the Ford Theater, I brought on board fresh images and ideas from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. From the Holocaust Museum, I had accumulated film clips of various Nazi political rallies featuring Hitler’s mesmerizing performances and the German audience’s blind adulation. I found myself processing these inputs as I waited for the show to begin.
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep . . .
In listening to Glenn Beck, in letting myself uncritically join the crowd’s freely offered adulation, would I find myself falling blindly into the hands of a demagogue like Hitler? Would I become a tool in a crowd of tools? In the museum, I saw how easily a sophisticated, educated and Christian nation like Germany could abandon their sanctity and conscience to the spell of the fiery orator. Not me, bub! I would not unplug my analytical abilities and give up my autonomy to anyone!
So I watched-critically. Beck opened the show, welcomed us and then all but disappeared for two hours. Sarah Palin, some singers, Alveda King, Rev. King’s niece, and a trio of decorated soldiers stepped forth in succession. Separate awards for people who exemplified faith, hope and charity were given. Presenters and recipients spoke. Only at the end, the final 25 minutes or so, did Beck ask for our attention to fall on him as a substantial stage presence. I noted this pattern with some satisfaction. A Hitler in the making would not have let such an opportunity for self-aggrandizement pass so unexploited.
So, I listened-critically. Numerous speakers, as they took the microphone, thanked Beck for setting this rally up. OK, fair enough. And then each speaker, from Palin to Alveda King right on through to the last honoree of the Faith, Hope and Charity Awards, spoke their pieces. I heard heartfelt pleas to get right personally with God, with Jesus Christ. Speakers offered up to us, for our example and inspiration, the details of ordinary lives lived honorably and with purpose. These very people then spoke on their own behalves. The whole National Mall rang with passionate challenges to us to live lives of integrity for the sake of our families, our kids. Again, neither Glenn Beck’s name nor fame nor importance figured much in anyone’s presentation. A Hitler in the making would not have left his shills to wander so far off-topic, failing to lift up the leader as god and savior of the people.
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound,
Everybody look what’s going down . . .
So, what precisely was going down? I granted Glenn his integrity, his sincerity of purpose and his innocence. He had stated that this would not be a political rally, and he had evidently meant it. OK, but what was going down? Oddly, I found myself uncomfortable for the most unexpected reason: speaker after speaker invoked Jesus Christ, His atoning work, His centrality in our lives and in the well being of the country. Can these people get away with this? . . . in public this way? . . . on government property? Somewhere along the line, I realized I had accepted the age’s baseless canard that I needed to shroud my spiritual life in deepest silence, lest I annoy the ACLU or the neighborhood atheist’s delicate sensibilities. An unwelcome taboo lost its grip on me, broke and shattered!
There’s battle lines being drawn.
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.
When President Lincoln had finished his Gettysburg Address, applause was delayed, scattered and “barely polite,” to use historian Shelby Foote’s characterization of Lincoln’s audience’s response. The seemingly awkward silence only heightened Lincoln’s widely reported sense of having only served as a piece of unremarkable window dressing on the day’s otherwise notable events.
What had happened? Lincoln had surpassed his audience’s shallow expectations and taken them and the moment to another, higher plane. What Lincoln experienced was his audience’s disorientation and wonder.
Once again, I was invited to compare my experience on the Mall with the experience of an historical audience, not Hitler’s this time, but Lincoln’s. When Beck’s Rally finished, people got up and left. How anticlimactic. Beck had issued no call to storm the White House or take to the streets in an afternoon of rage. He hadn’t even told me who to vote for. Half a million people picked up their stuff and went home. Many, like me, in deep and silent thought. Others in quiet conversation. The casual passerby might think that nothing more than a large picnic had adjourned on the National Mall.
Beck and his excellent company had surpassed my shallow expectations. The event’s speakers had taken me and the moment to another, higher plane than I had prepared myself to explore that morning.
A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly say, “Hooray for our side.”
I saw more clearly the uniqueness of what had gone down around us on the National Mall once I reached the Washington Monument. I went to hear Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and friends speak at a political rally at Constitution and Fifteenth. Interesting. Encouraging. But so strangely and completely unconnected to the moment just past. I could hear her, but my thoughts dwelt on the deeper issues, the more personal issues, that the Rally had raised for me.
Then Al Sharpton’s marchers bisected the scene and threw my experience on the Mall into even sharper relief. On the faces of the marchers I saw resentment, the result of pent-up demand and an inflamed sense of entitlement. This group wanted tangible benefits. They wanted the government to secure those benefits. Now.
In contrast, the speakers at the Beck Rally had incited us to seek, not tangible benefit, but a restoration of honor, honor for ourselves, for our families and for our country.
We left, not rank-on-rank in a march designed to declare our self-righteous discontent, but by ones and twos, quietly, reflectively. This was no day for politics, either Michelle’s nor Al’s.
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Something sure had happened on the Mall. Something marvelous, unique, even splendid, had, indeed, gone down. A half-a-million people will spend the next few weeks coming to understand what all those powerful incitements to honor will amount to. That day’s images and ideas will have a political expression, surely; but the politics expressed will not find root in party or dogma. Those at that rally will root their politics in a shared commitment to the idea that our country owes its greatness to God and survives on its citizen’s gratitude. Reordering our nation’s politics and economy is secondary to reordering our hearts’ relation to God.
We all left the National Mall with a common hunger to restore honor– honor in our personal lives, in our families and in our country. May God satisfy that yearning.
The “God” of Glenn Beck