Monday, September 6, 2010

Beck's Minus: Doctrinal Indifference

Before I venture into the minus or limitation of one of Glenn Beck's positions, I think it is important to state that he has done what no other Conservative commentator has done: And that is, he made a direct appeal to the American people that they return to God. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage have all made references to God and to religious values in passing. However, I do not recall any of them professing to their audience that, ultimately, God is the answer to our national challenges; and that these challenges are too big for a conservative fix. Indeed, politics is important but beneath that layer are many other layers which need fixing i.e. individual morality, broken marriages and families, State-run education, and a host of other issues.

With every virtue, however, there lurks a corresponding vice. A kernel of truth can turn into a bad seed if it is not planted in rich soil. It was virtuous on Glenn Beck’s part in that he pointed to God as the solution to our nation’s troubles. With that said, his call to “restore honor” may travel down a rough and narrow road if he says or implies it doesn’t matter what God you worship or how you worship. On the August 28th “Restore honor” rally in Washington, D.C., he invited rabbis, imams, Protestant ministers, and Catholic priests up on stage in order to show that there is solidarity among the monotheistic religions in America. In one sense, this show of unity is pleasing to the eye but in doing so he gives the impression that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are equally compatible with the founding principles of our country. Using Beck’s logic, it would seem that Judaism and Islam were just as capable of supplying the frame work for the U.S. Constitution.

I do realize, however, that Glenn Beck said on his show a number of times that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. But on other occasions, he makes it clear that he doesn’t fuss over doctrine or worship; that it is important enough we believe in one God. This is where the Catholic would have to part company with Glenn Beck if we are to be consistent with the Church’s teachings.

We are increasingly pressured by the both Right and Left to refrain from “making a fuss” over the things that divide us monotheists like doctrine and the nature of worship. One of my old roommates, who happened to be a practicing Christian, tried to tell me that God doesn’t care what denomination we belonged to, as long as “you love Jesus." As Catholics, our response might sound something like this: “If God doesn’t care what denomination we belonged to, then He doesn’t care how we live, what we believe about Him, and how we worship Him. After all, our church affiliation has a profound effect on all three.”

More on the next blog