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Over at FaceBook I posted a link a few days ago to something I was a bit upset by. More than a bit, actually. The Christian evangelist Billy Graham met with Glenn Beck, and Christianity Today carried an account of their meeting.

The fact that they would legitimize him was upsetting enough to me. Less upsetting than it was initially (at the time I thought he still had refused to meet with Obama; he refused to meet with candidate Obama and only met with mcCain but has since met with President Obama, in April of last year). That helps a bit, but not enough. When you meet with a man like Beck you legitimize him in the minds of many. And CT went further, by excerpting Beck's own descriptions of his beliefs at great length. The bit that has me upset is this:

My message to you is we must come together. Evil has -- the left has stood -- is standing now with profound and clear evil and they've connected from evil all the way to the average Democrat and everything in between.

And we are sitting here arguing with each other over, well, how do you mean that exactly? Well, what exactly do you believe in religion, et cetera, et cetera? While none of us can sacrifice what we believe as an individual, we must stand together with those who believe in God and that God endows each individual with the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This is Beck laying out his own views; he makes it clear it's not what Graham thought or said. But it appeared in what I thought of as a centrist magazine. I have been called evil. I have been called synonymous with evil, and not for anything I did in particular. I am apparently, to hear Beck talk, part of an organization that is so evil that that perversity extends to "the average Democrat." And that talk is now repeated not by Fox News or RedState or somewhere like that, but on a site I always considered reasonable and open to a variety of opinions.

The comments don't help either. I broke my policy against reading comments because I was hoping against hope that people would smack Beck down and show the good sense I hope Christians would show to this kind of bigotry. They didn't for the most part. People have argued over whether Christians should bother with Muslims Mormons*, but most people seem to accept the premise that liberals are evil.

To put it bluntly, I'm pissed. And it feels like, once again, I am one of "them" rather than the "us." So much for Christian brotherhood.

I want to forgive CT because that's what my faith says I should do. Not so much for them but for myself; this thing has really gotten under my skin to the point that it's keeping me up nights. It's not the only thing but it's certainly contributing! I actually prayed for help forgiving these guys, and I don't usually explicitly pray for myself.

*ETA: My brain thought Mormons because Beck is a member of the LDS and the comments were talking about whether LDS were Christian. But my finger said Muslims for some reason. Really don't know what I was thinking.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 25th, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, we evil horrible Democrats! It's a view I am intimately familiar with, living where I do!

Glenn Beck, of course, is a pharisee and a rabble-rouser. Name-calling perhaps, but I believe it's accurate. Sometimes I'm not sure he even believes what he says, but I could be wrong. When he said that Christians should quit any church that preached social justice, I'm afraid he lost any miniscule credibility he might have had on my part.

I've been reading an interesting book: Split Ticket: Independent Faith in a Time of Partisan Politics I haven't finished it yet--I'm only a couple of chapters in so far but it is fascinating, and gives me a lot of hope for the future, considering these young people who are writing it and their open-heartedness.

Feb. 25th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
As a conservative Christian I feel the need to apologize for Beck and those that have bought into, and are legitimizing, the idea that political disagreement necessarily means evilness, stupidity, naivete, or anything other than what it says on the tin can.

Sorry. :/
Feb. 25th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*

Thank you. I really don't hold all conservatives responsible for the Becks of the world, any more than I would want to be held responsible for the liberals that make me cringe. I believe that two people can disagree in good conscience, and while one may be right and the other wrong, that doesn't mean I disrespect the person on the other end.

Beck, though, is a whole other bag of crazy. To see him endorsed by a publication I generally respect, and by a man I really respect - I worked for his son for a while, and really like the whole Graham clan - was a very bitter pill to swallow, you know?
Feb. 26th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
I know you don't, but since I do share parts of the ideology, and since the religious dimension that conservatism often takes on is so strong, I still feel. There are haters on the left, too, but since they don't claim so boisterously that they follow a religion in which you love your enemies* and pray for those that persecute you, I think that the religious right does need to be held to a higher standard, especially by its own members.

I also think that universal principles of respect in debate, especially debates that are conducted within the windows of possible political action, trump what you may think, and so it becomes doubly important for me to throw my support in with you on this issue.

And Beck really does unsettle me, because of his hyperbolic appeals to emotion rather than reason. Once people learn to turn their brains off, they can believe anything. Even more unsettling was the fact that he, Graham, and CT all assumed that this was acceptable to print because it was preaching to the choir anyway, right?

*which a lot of people on the right believe that people on the left are. I think that certain movements within the left are opposed to Christianity on principle, but not all, and moreover that movements aren't people.
Feb. 26th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
Dear, you have no need to apologize for the Becks of this world. You didn't cause him to say the things he's said, and you are an imminently reasonable person.

The Becks of this world, as well as some of the more extreme and raving liberals, have more in common than they'd like to believe. Their whole purpose is to put everyone into an "us" or "them" box-- and if you don't fit the "us" box *perfectly*, why then you *must* go into the "them" box.

The trouble is, they keep at it long enough, and through mere persistence and loudness, begin to persuade people that's how it has to be.

Feb. 26th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. See my response to Marta above, for why I felt I ought to say something anyway.

Humans don't really fit into boxes. We're too round and angular.
Feb. 26th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
I'm no expert in even Catholic views on forgiveness, but please consider: the same people you would like to forgive are willing to argue that there must be hell because otherwise God's justice would be moot.

They are willing to say God may not forgive some people. Why then should you rush to forgive them, as if the one famous passage were the only thing we had to stand upon when it comes to forgiving those who persist in wrongdoing and who, arguably, are bearing false witness - not only in the sense of being liars, but in testifying to a God who is hateful?

I don't think you're religiously obligated to forgive them on your own behalf; you certainly can't forgive them on someone else's, and what is between Beck and these other Christians and God, is for God to say.

Feb. 26th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
With the full disclosure that 1). I'm coming at this from an old-school Lutheran perspective, and 2). I don't know what you do or don't believe...

Belief in hell does not mean that there are limits on forgiveness. Christ did not take on only the sins of Christians; He took on the sins of the whole world. Whether people receive that forgiveness in faith, having realized that they can't make it on their own, or whether they choose to go it their own way, is what determines heaven and hell in this situation.

With that said, I do think that you could argue this as persisting in unrepentant sin, in which case you're obliged to use the Keys--call them out on it, tell them that they aren't forgiven because they're now following their own morality rather than God's, and pray that this leads to true repentance. (And, if it does, turn the Keys back the other way.) Most of Marta's posts that are critical of the Christian right, I think, do this very thing.

But I don't know if that's the same thing as personal forgiveness, which to me has always been an intrinsic part of living as one who is already forgiven (which is why our forgiving others is even in the Lord's Prayer). We shouldn't try to hold onto the hurts that others have given us: it's toxic, and it goes against what God's done for us. We have no control, ultimately, over the relationship between another person and God, but we have control over our relationships with them. We should use personal forgiveness in that relationship as a witness to God's love, and also to remind them (if they claim to live by the same example) of what they're supposed to be doing. Doesn't make it easy, though.
Feb. 26th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
Well, hey, you're in good company. I'm a Reform Jew; did you hear what Glenn Beck said about us on Tuesday?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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