There has been all kinds of back and forth on the Internet concerning the much ballyhooed "Restore Honor" rally put on by Fox TV commentator Glenn Beck. And I have read a lot of it seeing as how I have been too sick to do much of anything else since last Friday.
One of the more thoughtful observations that is making the rounds is an essay written by a Jesuit priest named James Martin in which he discusses Beck's accusation that President Obama subscribes to "liberation theology" which makes him automatically a "Marxist." You can read Father Martin's essay at the jump:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-james-martin-sj/glenn-beck-vs-christ-the-_b_698359.html
I enjoyed the essay for no other reason that it caused my mind to go back to my happy days as an undergrad back at that known laboratory of Communism Hendrix College in which we discussed "liberation theology" and other schools of thought in Dr. Christie's classes. I was pleasantly surprised at how much of this stuff I had actually retained.
The Catholics refer to the "preferential option for the poor." The Methodists don't put it exactly that way but this is just semantics. Where the Catholics and the Methodists are on the same page is that we are both "do-gooders." Whether that comes from a theology of social justice or just the right thing to do misses the point. Marxist it is not.
But I think all of this hand-wringing over this "Restore Honor" foolishness misses the point as well. Beck is a cipher. A product of his time just as Father Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith were products of their's.
Neither Father Martin nor myself know whether President Obama knows the first damn thing about "liberation theology." Neither does Beck. What Beck does know is that calling Mr. Obama a racist cost him advertisers. So he'll just call him something else that is equally unprovable.
But I do know this: Beck believes that God has called him to lead America "back" to it's lost values. OK fine.
Look around you. Poverty abounds. The Earth has recently been plagued by disasters both natural and man-made. The nursing homes are filled with lonely people left to die by their lonesome in some cases. Good people are visited with lousy breaks. You get my point.
And yet God decides to make a cameo appearance in human history for the limited purpose of anointing the likes of Glenn Beck as His official spokesman and catalyst for America's revival?
Do you Tea Party types actually believe such piffle?
Enjoy your Labor Day.