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Glenn Beck the Theologian: Product of Innocuous Preaching, Ignorant Church

March 15, 2010

Social justice, which I take to mean “fairness for all of humanity”—black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, male or female, American or not—is of great importance to me. As a Christian, I am convinced that social justice, though obviously an anachronistic term, was at the heart of Jesus’ life and teachings. As I understand them, even his death and resurrection encompass what we refer to today as social justice.

So, naturally, I was upset to hear about Glenn Beck’s recent remarks urging parishioners to “run” if they discover the words “social justice” and/or “economic justice” on their church’s website.

Just to be clear: on matters of theology, which I have a hard time separating from political matters, Glenn Beck doesn’t know what he’s talking about!

That said, my issue isn’t with Beck; it’s with those that listen to him, those that take the time to extract and call attention to his asinine comments from radio shows, those that eat up the healthy dose of media attention he gets every time he spews his misinformed theo-political logorrhea.

I really don’t care about Glenn Beck—he’s just a bigoted white guy that craves media attention and, like Pat Robertson, has learned how to get said attention. My real issue is with those that pay attention to Beck in the first place, those that make him matter.

But this raises an interesting question: Who is ultimately responsible for Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson, et al. receiving more media attention than, say, the Pope each time they wax theological?

Should we credit Beck himself? That is, is he actually using his esteemed high school education to say something so new, so riveting, so profound that he simply demands our attention on matters of faith and theology?

The obvious answer is no.

So how do we account for the deluge of media attention Beck received late last week when he told Christians to leave churches that promote forms of social/economic justice?

As with any television and/or radio personality, s/he is only as important as his/her audience deems him/her to be. We needn’t look any further than The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien or, conversely, American Idol to understand this fact: for good or for ill, when it comes to media, ratings always trump quality of content.

With this rule in mind, I think the church in America would do well to consider its own role in the emergence of Glenn Beck the theologian:

If the political components of the gospel and the subversive implications of the claim “Jesus is Lord” were actually being preached in American churches, would Glenn Beck still matter? If more pastors were voicing the prophetic spirit of the gospel, would we care when pompous windbags go out of their way to distort the gospel for headlines? If the church really knew the social character of its message, would Glenn Beck have a job?

I think not.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. DAD permalink
    March 15, 2010 5:33 pm

    COULDN’T AGREE MORE. HE SHOULD BE THOUGHT OF AS SIMPLY A COMEDIC FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT WITHOUT ANY SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE. HE IS GENERALLY FOLLOWED BY PERSONS THAT DON’T HAVE AN ORGINAL THOUGHT, BUT LOVE TO YELL ” RIGHT ON ” AND JUMP ON WHATEVER BANDWAGON HE IS PULLING AT THE TIME. HE REACHES FOR THE OUTRAGOUS AND IS GLORIFIED BY THE MEDIA WHOSE JOB CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AS SELF PROMOTION AT THE EXPENSE OF ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. JUST WATCH ANY TV PRODUCTION OBJECTIVELY ( NEWS, ENTERTAINMENT, TALK SHOWS, YADA YADA ) AND A GOOD 80% OF ALL THAT THEY PROJECT AS BEING MEANINGFUL IS STRAIGHT UP SELF GRATIFICATION. THE PROBLEM IS THAT UNLESS HIS RANT IS ADDRESSED DIRECTLY, IT IS TAKEN AS BOTH TRUTHFUL AND ACCURATE. SOUNDS LIKE AN EXCELLENT SUBJECT FOR A SERMON TO ME.

  2. May 8, 2010 6:15 am

    I think that Glenn Beck is am absolute disgrace – I can’t stomach to listen to anyone who is so extreme or ignorant in their views, and I don’t respect the manipulative use of rhetoric to influence/scare others.

    Personally, I am not religious, but I can appreciate/respect your perspective about the potential positive influence of more appropriate sermons in houses of God. I infer, from your comment, that you are concerned with the integrity of the teachings being delivered.

    I don’t own a television. For one thing I have better things to do with my time. I gave up years ago when the act of listening to the BS on a television became more frustrating than entertaining. I don’t even want to watch the news. The media entities are all drama all the time. I prefer to read the news on the internet, and listen to NPR or other talk radio, etc. It seems to me that our country has been socialized to focus on others instead of themselves, and that humans are drawn to drama more so than to the celebration of something good or positive. Also, by nature, the majority of people are followers, and hence are always looking for a leader.

    This enables the media’s antics to be effective, and I suppose the media is simply “smart” enough to play off of human weakness in order to make a $. People’s addiction to television and to focusing on what others are doing have created a reality in which people no longer think for themselves, and look to others for what they should believe in. It seems that people have absolved themselves from creating their own moral code, and then living up to it. I think this is why people have a tendency to swallow the rhetoric spouted by the Glenn Beck’s of the world.

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