I hate to see people duped. Hate it. With most people, though, I'm sorry to say that if you can find ONE solid connection to their emotions, you can own them, you can do their thinking for them, and you can inspire them to do, say, and support some very ignorant things. It's the way the movements I write about work - manipulation and preying on irrational and illogical fears. Very seldom do I write about anything political, but as you can see in the blog description below the title, the Religious Right is nestled very solidly among the movements I consider as dangerous, and generally brain-dead, as patriarchy, courtship, et cetera, so from time to time (like today), it'll get some attention here.
Well, Glenn Beck, master manipulator, is at it again. A "Restoring Courage" rally to be held in Jerusalem. This time more reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous than the brain-dead rally he held in Washington last year (which American Christian leaders did everything but tie knots in their rear-ends to be a part of). Anyone who thinks ANYTHING spiritual, at least from a positive spiritual perspective, or thinks ANYTHING Christ-like came out of Beck's rally last year is a fool. It was a sad day for our Christian faith in this country from where I sit - a day where the already prolific draping of the Christian faith with an American flag was made even more prolific - a day where the already blurry line between faith and patriotism was blotted out, and for many American Christians, they became the same thing.
To those of you who share faith in Christ with me, please don't diminish Christ in this way. PLEASE. Please don't surrender your mind to a sociopolitical movement cloaked in faux-spirituality. Christ is Christ, and everything else is everything else.
There are those who say that it's America's duty, as a "Christian nation", to support Israel. Funny, but I've read the bible cover to cover many times in many different translations, and not once, NOT ONCE, have I found so much as a reference to America in it, and I'll even go so far as to offer this bit of heresy - I don't think any of the disciples were registered Republicans. [* gasp* *How is that possible?!!! They couldn't have even been Christians?!!! They had to be Republicans!!! They had to be!!!*] You'll find nothing in the bible to back up the idea that America owes any political or military support to the current Israeli nation. These are all human ideas that have nothing to do with the bible, but are applied as if biblical commands. The same people who believe these things with their whole hearts would call me a heretic for writing articles like this one. Life is so much easier when we can just attach ourselves to emotional trains of thought, particularly when the thought is that of someone else, and when we can put all our faith in what's been rendered a rule book that men have determined for us to be - in its entirety - dictation straight from the mouth of God.
And please note, people, that I'm not suggesting America should or shouldn't support the nation of Israel. That's completely irrelevant to the point I'm attempting to make.
Some people will find this move by Beck to be harmless in the sense of causing or creating more problems with the Islamic nations in the Mid-East - "They already hate us." Well, that may be true with the radicals, but you wanna know why most of them hate us, radical or otherwise? Because of crap like this! Do you REALLY want Glenn Beck to become the American poster boy to a group of people who already resent us for going all over their region trying to tell everybody how to live? THAT's how they see us (whether that's who we are or not). Do we really want Beck's freaking manipulative face on it? What possible good can come from this for anyone but Glenn Beck?
Glenn Beck is a MASTER at whipping the right-wing, cultural Christianity base up into an emotional frenzy, whether through fear or through appeals to their "Christian" patriotism, then capitalizing on the emotion by showing his own feigned emotion to stir them up even more, leaving them to believe that it's all been a spiritual experience at it's core.
I've said before that everytime I see him begin to cry, I feel like I'm in a little, country Baptist church somewhere here in the south, and somebody just said something about "Mama" (you rural southerners will know what I mean). Just watch...
The man is completely shull of fit. "Lewis! You don't know that! How can you say that?!" I do know it, and I can say it, cause I've seen Christian music artists pull these same stunts more times than I can count - always to manipulate - with the goal of getting people to the merchandise table. There are people among my family and friends who can verify that for everytime I've watched Beck turn on his BS waterworks, I immediately say, "If he'd just do a product pitch, it'd be perfect." (SA)
Christian music artists generally have a formula for compelling people toward purchasing product. For many, maybe even most (at least in the Southern genre I was in - the worst for doing this), that formula involves and revolves around the setlist. For the sake of this article, I'm gonna use a 10 song first set and a 5 song second set as my example. Again, I've personally witnessed this, from 100 member country churches to major arenas and 20,000 people in the audience.
In the 10 song first set, you come on stage with something upbeat but not outright "in your face" in dynamic. Song #2 is something more mellow, usually a lesser known song from the artist's catalogue having never been released to radio, but with a deeper emotional dynamic than song #1. You use the emotional momentum from song #2 to go into song #3, an energetic number (perhaps even your latest single). You've done no talking to this point, but just gone from one tune right into the next, giving them energy, relaxation, and then familiarity with more energy. Having now built a "bond", you head into the next phase...
After song #3, the artist (or group MC if a group) gets folksy for a few mintues, flatters the audience ("We're honored to be here with you tonight"), introduces the band, tells a couple of jokes, and uses the positive momentum to propel everything into song #4, an uptempo, energetic number, very likely a past hit song for the artist. Songs 5, 6, and 7, are a deeper period, songs with heavier, meatier, sometimes somber messages, often containing their own emotional peaks and valleys, usually set up with personal, heart-wrenching, emotionally connecting introductions ("This isn't just another song to me...I've lived it...yadda, yadda"), and all of this to build momentum to go straight into song #8 (the HAMMER), usually one of the artist's bigger songs of their career and something the audience recognizes favorably (now ready for an emotional release) from the first note of the introduction. After possibly a short encore of song #8, you go into the final phase of the set...
Song #9 can go one of two ways - it can either be an emotional power ballad, likely a past hit at that, that builds up to an emotional frenzy at its end, OR, you can cover a traditional old song that everyone is sure to know (a song they may likely sing at their church), probably even sing along with you, and feel comfortable in their connection with you...and then from this, song #10 (the REAL HAMMER), the artist's signature song.
As soon as song #10, and any necessary encore, ends...the product pitch...with HEAVY emphasis on songs #8 and #10 (which the artist has conveniently made sure NEVER appear on the same CD or DVD), not to mention references to "If you liked that song Sissy Sue sang (with the touching, personal intro) you can find it on such and such CD...yadda, yadda). Everything is scripted and intended to manipulate you to the merchandise tables at intermission, particularly to purchase songs 8 and 10.
For the second set, the first four songs aren't really scripted - perhaps some requests are handled here - but that last song...
One thing EVERY gospel artist knows, particularly those in the Southern genre, is this: If you can't get them to respond to anything else, DO A PATRIOTIC SONG. Think about the connotations of what I just said there. Christian music artists KNOW than the typical Christian sitting in the pew of a typical church, or the typical Christian who attends Christian concerts, will respond 1000x quicker to a song about America than they will to a song about Christ, His love, or His grace. This is their ace in the hole. Close the second set with a patriotic number to arouse the emotions and manipulate those who haven't already dropped their money at the merchandise table to visit it on their way out. If you can't get them to respond to "Jesus loves you" (and often they don't), you can absolutely bet your bottom dollar that they'll respond to "The devil is out to destroy America". It's a guarantee, and it doesn't speak well of the modern American church body. Priorities are out of whack and our nation itself has become a religious idol.
Do you think I'm being cynical? I've personally witnessed the group manager ask the product manager what units were in surplus back at the storeroom at the office. I've witnessed the product person's answer. Then, I've been handed my setlist for the night, and mysteriously, it contained several songs (particularly those that had once charted) from the particular CD that the merchandise guy mentioned having a surplus of, with emotional peaks built to center around the promotion of a couple of those songs, songs that may not have been staged in months, and NEVER in this particular order. This would continue for several nights...until the surplus evened out, and then the setlist would go back to normal.
While what they're doing may not be necessarily sinister in the intent of all who do it, it IS manipulative and it DOES take advantage of people and their emotions, so, in essence, it IS sinister, and it's something I don't ever want to be associated with again.
Glenn Beck does this same thing. He's become a very wealthy man doing this. He WANTS you to confuse your faith with your patriotism - because then he can manipulate you.
Don't be duped.
And puhlease, people...I'm a political conservative, not one of those "mean ole liberals", and I love my country very much. My soul, however, does not belong to the GOP...and neither does my brain.
ETA: For a few other of my thoughts on the Religious Right, try this post from about a year ago.