Tag Archives: Mormon

Glenn Beck: Restoring Jack Squat

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I am continuously astounded that many on the far right – which has a large contingent of fundamentalist Christians – have been more than willing to overlook Glenn Beck’s Mormonism because they like his brand of low-brow, popcorn-density “journalism.”  I think that his particular blend of civil religion – one that confuses any reference to “God” to an endorsement of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and cannot distinguish enlightenment Deism from orthodox Christianity – is so vague than many of these Christians on the right honestly can’t tell he’s coming from a different place from them theologically.

A friend of mine pointed me to an article by Dan Webster over at Episcopal Cafe’ that makes some interesting connections between Beck’s Mormon faith and his political program:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, believes Christianity fell into apostasy when the original apostles died. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, believes he was called by God to restore the gospel that Jesus taught but had been radically changed by second generation Christians and those who came after.

So when Beck says America has been “wandering in darkness” and that he is here to help lead the country back to God he is emulating the founder of his religion. He wants to restore America’s greatness just like his church believes it is called to establish the “restored gospel.”

I don’t agree with Webster on all points, but he makes some interesting arguments that I have not seen elsewhere.  Webster also points out that, while Beck is vague on his own theological proclivities, he isn’t shy about attacking the details of others’ faith.

He’s expressed discomfort with Obama’s brand of Christianity (hey, props for calling Obama Christian!) due to its affinities with liberation theology, which he calls “socialist.”  And to an extent, he’s right.  Where he is wrong is finding any expressions of a strong faith in Obama’s policies.  It may be there, to the President, at least.  But Obama’s not really talking about it; whether because it’s not there, or he’s trying to distance himself from Bush, his outspoken evangelical predecessor, is not really possible to know.  Beck has made too much hay out of something he knows little about.

In his piece, Webster argues that Beck is channeling Joseph Smith moreso than Martin Luther King, Jr.  And so far as that comparison goes, he’s spot on.  But Smith wasn’t really a restorationist; he wasn’t restoring an existing church, he was making a new one.  The LDS church is a creation of his own mind, which I think makes him equal parts huckster and genius.

Like Smith, Beck isn’t really trying to restore anything so much as create something that never existed and in the process garner a great deal of attention, wives, money, and power: a pristine, just, and prosperous America that is simultaneously the sole superpower and completely God-fearing (though,significantly, the question ‘whose God?’ is never asked).

I think that makes Glenn Beck more like the Pied Piper of legend.  A man playing a flute, making pleasant noises, leading us away like children…on a journey to nowhere.

Mormons and ‘Acceptable’ Sports

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For the first time in the history of the UFC, they are pulling up and moving a show from one city to another.  The reason: poor ticket sales.  The cities involved: Salt Lake City, poised to host its first UFC event, did not sell enough tickets, and now the event (UFC on Versus II) will be hosted in San Diego.  San Diego, a long-time MMA hotbed, is expected to have no problems selling tickets.

Read the details of the press release here.  What no one is saying, so far at least, is whether or not religion has anything to do with the poor ticket sales.  Interestingly, UFC President Dana White defended the original choice of Salt Lake City based on excellent TV ratings in that market.  But for some reason, that normally reliable indicator did not translate into ticket sales.

I can only wonder, is this because of the heavily Mormon population of Utah?  Granted, I don’t know of any specific rules against viewing fight sports in the LDS community, but there may be other issues.  Bud Light has become a prominent sponsor of the UFC recently, and we all know that alcohol is verboten in Mormon life.  My own suspicion is that many Mormons, whose church cultivates (and, to their credit, practices) an image of squeaky clean,  moral families, were simply afraid to attend.  It’s one thing to watch cagefighting in the privacy of your own home; it’s another to go out with all those beer-drinking, TAPOUT-wearing neanderthals and actually place butt to seat.

In short, my thought is that however fond many Mormon men are of Mixed Martial Arts, the sport itself (thanks to bloodshed, ring girls, beer sponsors, and tattoos) still has too much stigma attached to it for a tight-knit, tea-totaling community like Salt Lake City.  If anyone has a better idea, I’d love to hear it.  And for the record, I have beloved family members who are Mormons, and I have no ill will against the LDS Church.  I’m simply reflecting on what seems to be a logical scenario.  Thoughts?

EDIT: It also just occurred to me that this event was scheduled for a Sunday.  Really, UFC?  Does no one in your planning office know a thing about religious practices in Utah?