Jim Wallis sent out a letter this week-end asking the pray-ers among us to pray for Glenn Beck. Now let me get this straight: Jim Wallis of Sojourners’ fame has asked his readers to pray for the enemy. Of all the ranters today probably Glenn Beck is way up there with Rush Limbaugh and may even be running a mite ahead of him. Well, I kept reading Wallis’ letter. Glenn Beck has a daughter who has cerebral palsy. When she was born the doctors told him: “She may not really have any quality of life. She may not walk or talk or feed herself. But then miracles happen.” His daughter is now 21. One of the reasons that Beck opposes the current health care proposal is that he fears government bureaucrats just might euthanize people like his daughter. And so this talk-radio host rages against abortions and death panels. Both charges are totally false when it comes to this bill. But what Beck fails to see is that if he had not had good health care for his daughter chances are she might not have lived to be 21—and that is what this health care bill is all about. It seeks to bring into the circle all those who have not had the advantages of Mr. Beck and his family.
We’ve heard a lot lately about all the marchers, the birthers, all those that have screamed out at rallies where there is supposed to be dialogue. Lately many pundits have said that racism lies behind most of this rage and anger. There is some truth to this. But I think much of the anger and fear out there comes from people who are having a very hard time in their own lives. Glenn Beck struggles every day with a daughter with cerebral palsy. That is hard indeed. Could not a great deal of his spiteful and dangerous commentary flow out of the fact of his very sick daughter?
Through the years I have observed that many of those that came to church with their angers and frustration pointed their fingers at the preacher and the church. But behind their fury were broken homes, children that disappointed, jobs that were dead-end streets and homes they could not pay for. Racism may well be in the picture with so many frustrated people today. But I still say many of those that carried signs of hate toward the President and the government brought with them things in their own lives that were out of control.
This does not take away from the demagoguery of people like Glenn Beck. But it does make me wonder if there is not more to today’s furor than just a black President. It doesn’t make our task any easier. But not to demonize the enemy—but to try to understand what Glenn Beck finds at home every night somehow humanizes him and, I think his followers.
So I will pray with some reluctance for Glenn Beck. And I pray for all those others whose rage could do for us what, once upon a time, it shamefully did for a country called Germany.