I grew up as a Catholic student in the Shrine of the Little Flower Parish. My pastor was Father Charles Coughlin, whose rabid anti-communistic broadcasts inspired thousands of listeners in the 1920's and 30's. Among his tenants were support for the Nazis in their defense against communism, support for labor, and family values. He used his bully pulpit to accuse FDR of Communist and Marxist leanings. At one time he received hundreds of thousands of letters per week as he rallied Americans in an economic slump. He advocated programs of social justice, a term that was bandied about by Glenn Beck last week. Father Coughlin was wildly popular in the difficult economic post WW I economy.
By the time my family joined his parish, Father Coughlin had been muffled by Cardinal Mooney. He had incited fringe listeners to anti-semitic violence. His dogma became dangerous. He could give up his broadcasts or his vocation. He chose the church, but he was bitter. He was left to preach to his captive parish audience. The good Sisters of Charity did his bidding, drilling the students with the terror of an impending Russian invasion. The Communists would make us spit upon Jesus' picture, and we were to risk death by disobeying. We all sat in church, listening to his sermons, terrified that he would pause to excoriate the parents of a crying child. He was an eloquent preacher, but he was obsessed and angry. He is not a good role model for Glenn Beck.
Glenn Beck is the class clown who all of a sudden wants to be cerebral and wise. His latest attention-getting blather, announcing that churches that espouse social justice are aligned with Marxism or Nazism and should be abandoned- is only the most pathetic overreach to date. A few months ago, I split a gut as he pointed out the socialistic and communist symbolism decorating NBC's headquarters at Rockefeller Center. I thought he was on the cusp of a mental breakdown, since the Rockefeller name is associated with the most rabid capitalism in the last century. Now, after this latest folly, I have to wonder, why does the media continue to dissect his every word?
Glenn Beck is the luckiest boob in radio today. He used to do morning zoo radio, moved into personality radio, noticed Rush Limbaugh's ridiculous pay scale, lusted after it, became a conservative/libertarian raver, and Voila! He is the next Rush. I am not sure we need two. Like Rush, he has a history of substance abuse, followed by penance, abstinence, and forgiveness by his clot of fans. He is a lucky man.
I know that his fans are loyal to a fault. I know that even when they have no clue what he means, they are believers and defenders. I admire the loyalty, but Beck exploits it. When you tell your listeners and viewers to run from churches with social justice programs, you are RIDICULOUS. Yes, I yelled. Even a half baked Catholic (me) knows that Jesus was more of a beatitudes guy than a commandments guy. If there was ever a directive for social justice, Matthew captured it in his telling of the Sermon on the Mount. From this gospel, we received a list of expectations that are known as the Beatitudes.
I guess my main reaction to this latest pronouncement is " what in the hell is he saying?" followed by "who in the Hell is listening and embracing this?" The second part sort of scares me.
As always, Glenn is pulling back. Perhaps I overstated. Perhaps you didn't understand what I was saying. I only meant Black Liberation Churches. My critics worked with Obama. The media distorts my message.
Glenn Beck is out of his depth. Once again, his need to be noticed overcame his ability to be a wise man. He got noticed, but in a bad way. The curtains are pulled back, and the Wizard is a manipulating, self serving little man. He is not content to entertain: he wishes to lead. The entertainment business doesn't have the windfall profits that rabble rousing has, nor does it inspire rabid loyalty. Therefore, he will remain the deranged preacher, like the Network cliche, "mad as hell, not taking it anymore." Remember when we laughed at Peter Finch, and hated Fay Dunaway for manipulating a desperate man to incense the masses? 33 years later, a desperate man rallies his fan base. They nod at his every word as if he was intellectually astute and consistent. They line up to buy his prolific literary and auditory offerings.
Did you miss the audiobook America's March to Socialism, why we're one step closer to giant missile parades ? I am sure he was talking about me when he composed Talking to Idiots: How to stop small minds and big government. I'll take a pass on that one, too. Now The Christmas Sweater .....nah. Not a dime of my money will travel into his manipulating pockets.
I think he might want to take a peek at the broadcasting career of my parish priest, a man who over reached and stumbled. He doesn't have a pulpit and vestments to fall back on.
Glenn Beck is a man whose influence is to be taken seriously, even as his dicta is to be ignored. He has been on the cover of Time. God help us if he becomes the Man of the Year.