I don't plan to make a habit of embedding Glenn Beck clips on my blog, but this one--it's a doozy, and I just have to comment.
This man is so intellectually and artistically impoverished that the best he can come up with when he wants to evoke an earlier, simpler time in US history is A COUPLE OF ADS. That's right: to Glenn Beck, what represents America in its best incarnation are advertisements, which are as manipulated and crafted and unreal as anything can be in all of US culture.
It makes sense, though: Glenn Beck works for an ersatz news organization, and his whole agenda is to manipulate. Most of his emotions, even if real in themselves, are caused by something unreal--a past that never existed, a future that can never exist, a present that bears no correspondence to truth.
His whole shtick is as realistic and likely as a little kid offering a football player an ice-cold, opened, unsipped-from bottle of Coke in the passage to the locker rooms in a major league football stadium--but hey, it chokes people up, so it's all good.
I'll admit that this clip did take me back to an earlier time in my life. It took me back to my childhood, to testimony meetings in a ward with a decent share of crazy old people. Baffled and horrified as I am by this strange tirade, at least I can put it in a context: Beck is crying and emoting because he's "feeling the spirit." He invokes a mundane, didactic, adolescent analogy (staying out past curfew and knowing you'll get in trouble when your parents find out, but having to tell the truth because that's what people in good families DO) because Mormons perennially cast themselves as adolescents, as that is the best way for them to relate to their authoritarian god, and one more reason it's difficult for them to achieve spiritual or moral adulthood.
Also present in this clip is a good dose of the crazy factor. Beck is bearing a totally wacky testimony because he's totally wacky.
Beck has been Mormon for, what, a decade or so? And in that time he's become a kind of uber Mormon, out-Mormoning even lifelong Mormons in his weepy weird delusional didacticism.
At times I fear the church of my childhood. But when I see Glenn Beck doing this, I fear FOR the church of my childhood. I hope his approach remains what it was for ages: a wacky performance you just roll your eyes at and endure.