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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GLEN BECK AND THE MORMON CONSERVATISM - WHY GLEN BECK SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF ME

Hello, all:

This is a column from a couple of months ago, long before Glenn Beck started on his latest crusade of hatred and denigration. I re-read this after I posted my last column on his general insanity, and he STILL scares me! Unfortunately, as my research turned up, the Mormon Church stands right behind him in his views. THAT is scarier, believe me.

Enjoy!

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I don’t know about the rest of you all out there in ReaderLand, but Glenn Beck scares the crap out of me. He was a bit on the lunatic side to begin with, which is why CNN declined to renew his contract – but since he’s been on Fox News, he’s turned into a real loon. Since he’s now a mainstay in the national debate, we’re all getting a good, long, hard look at a peculiar strain of religious political conservatism rooted in Mormon culture. Trust me that it’s NOT a pretty sight.

Whether or not you believe that God rewards baptism with fortune, it’s clear as a bell that Glenn Beck’s conversion to, and education in, the Mormon faith after 1999 corresponds precisely with his rise as a media force. His story is pretty pathetic, and it’s a mainstay of LDS conversions as well:

"I was friendless, working in the smallest radio market I had ever worked in... a hopeless alcoholic, abusing drugs every day," Beck said inan interviewtaped last fall. "I was trying to find a job and nobody would hire me... couldn’t get an agent to represent me."

That’s when Beck’s wife-to-be Tania suggested that the family go on a "church tour," which finally led (after some prodding from Beck’s longtime on-air partner Pat Gray, a Mormon) to his local Mormon wardhouse. Six months later, the Beck family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

"I was baptized on a Sunday, and on Monday" - Beck’s throat tightens again; he wipes tears from his eyes with his index fingers - "an agent called me out of the blue." Three days later, Beck was offered his own political talk radio show at WFLA-AM in Tampa , Florida , the job that put him on the road from "morning zoo" radio prankster to conservative media heavyweight. Spiritual narratives of the I-once-was-lost-now-I-am-financially-sound variety are commonplace within Mormonism, which, like most of American Protestantism, has never been allergic to wealth.

Oh, BOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO . . . somebody hand that boy at least 10 boxes of tissues. He NEEDS them to deal with his issues.

Please don’t get me wrong here; I have relatives that are Mormons, and they are the happiest, most mentally balanced and physically healthiest folks that I know. I’ve been to LDS services, and I’ve fed missionaries on their rounds. I have a great deal of respect for what LDS does in the world. For one thing, they don’t take welfare – NONE of them. The church does that for them. Everybody tithes 10% of everything that they have, be it money, time, food, clothing – you name it, they tithe it. The food and clothing all go into a warehouse where the less fortunate Mormons can get them when they need that sort of help. None of them smoke, none of them drink anything with caffeine in it – and all of them hold outside jobs. There are NO paid clergy positions except the Council of 70 and the Quorum of 12. That’s all.

NOW, having said that, I’ll say this: The Mormon Church is a corporation. Period. Look at the way that the men dress, for example: dark suits, white shirts, and red or blue ties that all church leaders wear instead of vestments. Their most powerful public figures? Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman Jr., and Bill Marriott Jr., all of whom come from the business world. Many key elements of Beck’s on-the-fly messaging derive from a Mormon lexicon, such as his Twitter-issued September 19 call: "Sept 28. Lets make it a day of Fast and Prayer for the Republic. Spread the word. Let us walk in the founders steps." This call to fasting and prayer may indeed have been an appropriationof the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, but it is also rooted in the traditional Mormon practice of holding individual, familial, and collective fasts to address spiritual challenges. So, what’s wrong with this picture?

Well, for one thing: It’s overtly religious. For another, it’s a very narrow strip of religious thought. For still another, it’s NOT appropriate for a prime-time “news” show on a network whose slogan is “FAIR AND BALANCED.” Mr. Beck is about as UNfair and UNbalanced as a person can be and still be considered sane. His tears are real; that’s all part of the Mormon cult of masculinity. The LDS praises the man who is able to shed tears as a manifestation of spirituality. Crying and choking up are understood by Mormons as manifestations of the Holy Spirit. For men at every rank of Mormon culture and visibility, appropriately-timed displays of tender emotion are displays of power. Real, raw, masculine power.

Unfortunately for us all, his bombastic crap is still largely intact as well as sanctioned BY the LDS Church . If he’d been raised as a Mormon, he wouldn’t be saying the things that he says in the way that he says them. THAT would have been trained right out of him at an early age. Just as all little girls in the LDS Church – like Stephanie Meyers, for example – are raised to be good little wives and mothers in that order, all little boys in the LDS Church are raised to be good little followers. The testosterone-driven crap that most men learn at an early age simply is NOT part of Mormon culture. The boys start at age 12 learning how to be GOOD men, and not “regular” men. I think that this is one reason that Beck is so popular with born-Mormons; he’s NOT a born-Mormon, he can say outrageous things and get away with them because of it, and his male Mormon followers LOVE him precisely because it’s what they themselves would love to be able to do – and can’t.

Think that the Mormon Church isn’t a potent political force? Take a good, long, hard look at the Prop 8 fiasco in California . 2% of the population put up MORE than 50% of the volunteers and money to get a Constitutional amendment in California over turned.

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