Paying attention to weepy demagogue Glenn Beck is akin to giving oxygen to a house fire–no good will come of it, and you’ll probably make it worse. I was cross enough about his appropriation of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 (and only in part because it was my birthday)–but his comments on President Barack Obama’s supposed “liberation theology” bear a little commentary. I’m surprised that more people haven’t commented on this already–so here goes:
My theory is that this is Beck’s stealth strategy for calling Obama a Marxist or socialist. Not that I think most of his followers get that–he’s dressing up his ideas in inteleckshual-sounding phrases that are designed more to deflect deep thought than inspire curiosity and further research. Finally today, Tim Rutten in the L.A. Times tells us what liberation theology actually is, and why it’s so stupid to accuse Obama of being one of its acolytes:
Liberation theology is a movement that took shape in the late 1950s and ’60s among Latin American Catholic thinkers, foremost among them the Peruvian Dominican priest Gustavo Gutierrez, who coined the term. The other “founders” were the Uruguayan Jesuit Juan Luis Segundo; the Spanish Jesuit Jon Sobrino, who has spent most of his career in El Salvador; and the Brazilian Franciscan Leonardo Boff. (These are hardly shadowy figures; Gutierrez, for example, is the O’Hara Professor of Theology at Notre Dame.)
Their common position was that social injustice is a form of violence arising from sin. They urged the poor — and those acting in solidarity with them — to reflect on Scripture from the perspective of the poor. To that end, some argued that certain facets of Marxist analysis, particularly those having to do with social class, could be helpful. None of this is particularly mysterious, nor does it have anything to do with Obama. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone touched by liberation theology proposing anything like his Wall Street bailout.
Word. But for the full-on Beck-a-palooza roundup, head on over to our friends at Religion in American History. Paul Harvey has links to lots of posts and articles by actual inteleckshuals and their analyses of Beck:
- Messiah College Professor and Blogger John Fea in the New York Daily News, on “How Glenn Beck distorts the Christian Teachings that Inspired MLK, Jr.” He writes today that “I’ve been taking a little bit of heat from Glenn Beck supporters who have been writing in the comments section of my New York Daily News op-ed.” Ya think? No one ever said fighting the crazzy was easy work, John!
- Joanna Brooks, on “America’s First Mormon Televangelist.”
- Alex McNeill, “‘Me’ The People: A Day with the Tea Party”
- Andrew Murphy, “Beck Plays Prophet”
American history doesn’t disappoint, does it, friends? Just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse–it finds a way! Never say we’re not a can-do kind of people.