My mother used to tell me the story of Bedward. And when I read those news stories about Glenn Beck’s rally or see video clips of him promoting it, Bedward’s story springs to mind.
If you’re a Jamaican of a certain age, you will have heard Bedward’s name. He is mentioned in a folk song about the “sly mongoose” that stole our chickens and was always so hard to catch.
“Mongoose go down a Bedward kitchen,
Tek out one o’ him big, fat chicken,
Stuff it inna him waistcoat pocket,
And there’s another folk song about Bedward:
“Dip dem Bedward, dip dem
Dip dem in the healing stream
Dip dem deep but not too deep
Dip dem fe cure bad feeling.”
According to my mother, there was a real person named Bedward.
He styled himself some kind of prophet – or he might even have claimed to be the returning Messiah. Anyway, he told his followers he was going to ascend to Heaven and take them with him. So they sold (or gave away) their worldly possessions, and assembled at Race Course on the appointed day.
Some of the supporters erected a platform for Bedward, and he climbed up on it. After the obligatory mumbo jumbo, he leaped toward Heaven – and fell to earth breaking his leg.
The dejected followers went home and tried to get their belongings back. But, according to my mother, the people who had bought them – or who had been given them – said a deal was a deal.
Anyway, that’s how my mother told the story. I looked it up on the Internet once, and there really was a man named Bedward.
And there’s a play about Bedward that’s staged in Jamaica from time to time. In the top photo above, actor Winston Bell plays the role of the “prophet” in a 2003 revival.
One account I read in The Gleaner said Bedward was arrested and locked up as a lunatic.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be true. In those days lunacy was against the law in Jamaica. (Sometimes when I listen to people like Glenn Beck (lower photo), I wonder if lunacy shouldn’t be against the law in America today.)
This latter-day Bedward is a goofball if ever there was one. Yes, he has a lot of followers, but so does every crackpot that comes along. Think Jonestown. Think Haley’s Comet. Think David Koresh.
They come and go – the “false prophets” we are warned about in the Gospels:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
I don’t know what kind of clothing Glenn Beck is clad in. Fox News pays him enough to buy the best. But inside he sure is a ravening wolf. A crazy ravening wolf.
In the video clips I’ve seen, he has promoted today’s rally by comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and even Jesus Christ.
I would not be surprised if a bolt of lightning were to strike him down as he stands on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial, on the anniversary of MLK’s immortal “I have a dream” speech, and blasphemously proclaims himself the savior of mankind.
Or maybe he’ll just fall and break his leg – like Bedward.