Saturday, February 18, 2012

Glenn Beck's bibles

It’s been months since I've heard Glenn Beck, and "heard" is the accurate word, since the only time his voice penetrated my ears was on those mornings when I fell asleep the night before with the radio on, tuned to Coast to Coast, which airs on the same station. I doubt that I’ve missed anything.

Beck spends most of his broadcast time excitedly promoting his products, usually a book for which he takes credit as author but which common sense suggests is the work of his staff. Where would he find time to write books when he has a five day a week, 3 hour a day radio show to do, a nightly show on cable TV (since cancelled by mutual agreement), and also makes personal appearances? And it’s not like he writes one book a year. In the past year and a half or so, he’s had a book of his usual rants, a novel (The Overton Window), a rewrite of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (for those apparently too dumb to comprehend the original), and most recently, an update of The Federalist Papers which, he tells his audience, they “must read.” Beck has a real talent for sounding urgent, for shilling his products while insisting they benefit his audience rather than his bank account.

Although some of what he says is sound, I think the man is a huckster. He found a successful gimmick and is exploiting it to make millions. “Glenn Beck” is a brand name like Budweiser or Camel. Just as one beer tastes much like another no matter the label (Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud this or that), and a cigarette is all smoke regardless of the style (unfiltered Camel, Camel Filters, Camel Wides, Camel 99s, Camel Red, etc), one Beck book is just a rewrite of the others and merely print versions of his radio show.

Like many another “conservative,” Beck wields a Bible in one hand (he’s a Mormon, by the way) and Atlas Shrugged in the other. The late Ayn Rand’s 1,000 plus page novel has become an alternate Bible for modern right wingers who champion Capitalism and denounce the socialist policies of the Obama administration. But the Bible is at odds with Rand’s secular vision which she wrapped in a philosophy she called “Objectivism.” Rand loathed religious faith and once told William F. Buckley, a devout Catholic, that he was too intelligent to believe in God. The kind of conservatism - if, indeed, it is conservatism - that Rand proposed lacks compassion which Jesus had in abundance, and, it could be argued, said was the most important quality for His followers to possess. Rand separated the world into two warring factions - the haves and have nots with the former considered admirable and the latter dismissed as mooching parasites. There were no shades of gray in her world view.

Rand’s philosophy actually compliments the kind of ideas embraced by atheists and others who reject God. To Rand, man is a sort of god himself. Is that not the same twisted notion that brought about Lucifer’s fall?

© 2012 Brian W. Fairbanks


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