Wednesday, September 01, 2010

God-Blessed America

Glenn Beck is still the talk of the nation. Columnists and news analysts are still obsessing over the latest far-right spokesman following the Glenn Beck Extravaganza of the past Saturday, which, given the hype before and during the event, is certainly not surprising. However, I did find one critique of the event, especially of Mr. Beck's speech, which did rather surprise me. It was written by Robert Parham, who is executive editor of and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.

No amount of Bible reading, sermons masquerading as prayers and Christian hymns can cover up Beck's civil religion that slides back and forth between the Bible and nationalism, between authentic faith and patriotic religion.

He treats the "American scripture" - such as the Gettysburg Address - as if it bears the same revelatory weight as Christian Scripture.

What is important to Beck is belief in God - God generically - not a specific understanding of God revealed in the biblical witness, but God who appears in nature and from which one draws universal truths.

Not surprisingly, Beck only uses the Bible to point toward the idea of a God-generic. He does not listen to the God of the Bible who calls for the practice of social justice, the pursuit of peacemaking, the protection of the poor in the formation of community. Beck has little room for God's warning about national idolatry and rejection of fabricated religion.
[Emphasis added]

Frankly, I hardly expected such a lashing from a representative of a mainstream Protestant tradition, especially one which is perceived as conservative. That said, I also admit I shouldn't have been surprised, given the mish-mash ladled out by Beck in that rambling, often incoherent speech. The conflation of nationalism and of revealed religion shouldn't sit well with theologians from any of the Christian traditions, something the Christians present at the Extravaganza hanging on every word from Beck probably hadn't considered.

Beck, who I think is nothing more than a huckster plying his trade for his own personal glory and enrichment, displayed his ignorance of both the Christian tradition and of the founding principles of this nation. He may have mouthed words of inclusion for all the religions of the world, but he still promoted a country which could only be guided by faith in God, something which should have our founders spinning in their respective graves. And then he couldn't even get that part right, as Mr. Parham makes clear.

Hopefully Mr. Beck's fifteen minutes will be up soon. He has become as tiresome as his sidekick at the Extravaganza, Sarah Palin.

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Anonymous Jamie said...

If you don't stop picking at it it's never going to heal

2:07 PM  

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