More on Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

It is only fair: after asking Glenn Beck to consider being quiet (see this post), I would be remiss to not commend him for his recent pledge of nonviolence, and his call for his listeners and viewers to consider joining him in the pledge. (He also presented a Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, which references similar values.) Once again,as with many on the right, Beck’s pledge contains an interesting claim to be continuing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mission (though not all of it, of course, as I commented on here). Still, voices from the non-violent community are already questioning Beck’s sincerity. Writing at the Sojourners blog, Eric Stoner comments:

My problem isn’t generally with the words here, but with his interpretation and implementation of them. While I wasn’t ever an avid watcher of his television show and have never listened to his radio program, the little that I do catch regularly violates this pledge and declaration.

If he really seeks to “defeat the forces of evil not by sword, but through our love for mankind and his creator,” then how can he support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or any war for that matter?

And if he really wants to direct his “attack against the forces of evil, not against the individuals propelling those forces,” why go to the blackboard and rail against George Soros and others in the progressive world as villains who are destroying the world? While we differ on who is propelling those “forces of evil,” his approach is not exactly going after the system rather than the people in the system.

As for the declaration, if he were to take these “responsibilities” seriously, then there could be no demonization of Islam or Muslims on his shows, he would speak out against Guantanamo, and he would work diligently to take care of the homeless and poor. Maybe he’s volunteering at the Catholic Worker on the weekends — or building shelters and food banks with his fortune — but somehow I doubt it.

That said, I’m glad he’s talking about nonviolence in a positive light and calling on his listeners to take these ideas seriously. We should do what we can to hold him to his word and to push his followers to take this pledge and declaration to heart, even if Beck isn’t exactly leading by example.

I would join Stoner in his appeal for Beck to be a man of his word. I hope this is a sign of some real change to come, and pray that Beck will live up to his words. He can certainly continue to believe strongly and do this, as he says in his pledge. I pray that a new age of civility, on both sides will soon begin so that the violent language and violent actions can end, and true cooperation and understanding can flourish.

6 comments on “More on Glenn Beck

  1. “..hope this is a sign of some real change to come….” Are you suggesting Beck has been “violent” in the past and now this vocal call for non-violence is a change? No doubt Glenn has ‘waged war’ on progressivism as an ideology, but he has never, ever called for physical violence of any kind, and has been very consistent in reminding his listeners that real, physical violence is wrong. I’m not sure how this is a “change.” All the same, I do appreciate your open-mindedness in commending him here.

    • I wouldn’t say I’ve heard him advocate physical violence, but I have heard him blast individuals personally, rather than simply systems of thought. I.e. particular progressives as more than examples, but certainly more than his pledge would seem to indicate. To be fair, I don’t listen to talk radio or TV on either end of the political spectrum, so I don’t have a very large sample to judge him from. Hence, it is only fair to commend what I like since I felt compelled to condemn what I didn’t. (I much more enjoy listening to ESPN radio.)

  2. I would suggest, both to you, Sam, and to the author that you quote, that before you make statements concerning Beck, take a significant amount of time to listen to him and read what he writes. Much as I learned to better appreciate James Cone (although I still don’t agree with him) the more I read of his book, such is the case with anyone making a point.

    Unfortunately, outside of specifically Glenn Beck “friendly” sources, most media sites (print, web, visual, etc) portray Beck in a biased light, taking clips and bits of what he says out of the context of not only the immediate situation but in the larger situation of Glenn’s continuing conversation with American cultural, societal, and political structures. I have found any number of things that, in the little clip, make him out as violent and “foaming at the mouth” when, in the larger context, actually come across simply as passionate with a strong emphasis of faithfulness to whatever faith you subscribe to (be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Atheism, Mormonism, etc.), the general goodness of humanity, and the need for human beings simply to take care of other human beings without needing “enforcement” from some outside agency.

    • As I’ve said, I don’t listen to political talk on either side anymore. I used to listen to Rush an others on occasion, but I tired of the schtick and couldn’t help but feel it was an act for listeners at times. Most of what I know of Beck are from posts by friends, often conservative friends endorsing him. I just don’t see the attraction. I’m willing to grant that my sample is not exhaustive, nor random. Still, I would suggest that Beck, and others of his ilk, talk as if (and likely believes) government is the source of the solution to our issues. If it were only smaller (or larger, for some liberals) then everything would be so much better and we’d be closer to God’s ideals. I just don’t see how this view helps, on either side. This is a distraction for Christians. We do need to be concerned about our world, and I do think we should be informed voters. I just think that spending so much time on political debate and division isn’t healthy for people of faith.

      Thanks for the feedback, though. I don’t want to be unfair, so I’m happy to have those more familiar with Beck offer a counter-point.

      • I’m with you in that I think governmental solution, no matter which direction, is out of context of the Christian response to the problems of society. Both the Religious Right and the Religious Left are part and parcel guilty of trying to usurp the secular government authority to push their particular agendas on the country. The primary problem with both those positions is this: Christian ethics is for Christians (can’t take credit for that line, that comes from an article by Mark T. Nation, theologian and professor at EMU). To expect an increasingly non-Christian society to accept Christian ethics on the basis that they ARE Christian… or, for that matter, to accept them at all considering the pluralistic society we live in… is much like trying to teach a pig to sing… it wastes your time and annoys the pig. If we really want folks to follow Christian ethics, why aren’t we first and fore-most working at bringing more of the world into relationship with Christ so that they NATURALLY choose Christian ethics?

        In any case, my critique wasn’t aimed at saying Beck is the answer. I’m not convinced he is. However, much as I don’t like my own words, statements, phrases, actions, etc., being taken out of the context in which they are intended, I really don’t like seeing it happen to others. There are those on the conservative side of the spectrum that do so to our president… and I consider that as unfair as what some do to Beck. My solution? If someone quotes the president, or Beck, or some other public figure, and uses it to spin their statements a certain direction, I do my due diligence to hunt down a full transcript or full-length video of the situation and try to find out the context of what is being said. And, beyond that, I research other things that person has said, look at the broader context of their statements in light of their past statements, their past actions, and the overall, ongoing conversation in which they are engaged. Most of the time what I find out is that, while there may be some truth to the spin, it certainly is not as bad as the person makes it out to be.

        As I mentioned above, though, there are many groups, even supposedly reputable news sources, who have explicitly stated a goal of discrediting Glenn Beck and getting him “off the air”. Any news source like that is then no longer engaged in journalism, even opinion journalism, and is engaged in “legalized” slander and libel of a private citizen. I would, and have, come to the defense of others with whom I politically disagree for precisely the same reason. So… whether Glenn Beck is the solution or the problem or whatever is not the issue here… the issue is prejudging someone based upon incomplete information and out-of-context blurbs and quotes.

  3. […] Of course, I lost my respect for Beck long ago, and this situation seems in conflict with his pledge of nonviolence which promised more […]

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