According to the news reports, Glenn Beck is appealing to America to return to a Christian way of life. I read somewhere that he even asked parents to kneel down when they pray and leave the door open so that their children can see them.
So, I conclude that he considers himself a Christian.
Now, I have always considered myself a Christian. But I am certainly not a Glenn Beck Christian.
My parents were Christians and taught me to say my prayers every night. When I was very small, I knelt on top of the bed with my head on my folded hands, and when I was older I knelt on the floor beside my bed. I don’t recall whether the door was open.
I prayed to “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild” and “Jesus Tender Shepherd,” and when I lay me down to sleep I prayed the Lord my soul to keep.
My parents taught me that Christianity means doing to others what we would like them to do to us. That as Christians we should love one another and forgive seven times seven. That we should turn the other cheek, give to the poor and comfort the suffering, lay up treasures in Heaven not greedily go for the gold on earth.
Not one word about hating people who disagree with me or asking God to wipe out my “enemies.” Try to do good to them that hate you, they said. It won’t be easy but keep trying. Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord.
I still believe that’s how decent people should try to behave. And that’s how I would describe a “Christian way of life.”
I no longer kneel by the side of my bed to pray, but I still pray. Constantly. When I feel worried or anxious, when someone I care about is ill or in trouble, when one of our many pets is off its feed, even when I can’t find my wallet or my glasses, which, sad to say, is becoming increasingly frequent.
I also say prayers of thankfulness for I have many things to be thankful for. There is so much suffering, so much hunger, so much pain in this world. And I bear so little of it.
Sometimes I feel vaguely guilty, undeserving of the mercy I have been shown. But, as my brother Bill said, paraphrasing from the Book of Proverbs, trust God and don’t rely on your own understanding. Or as my mother put it, more picturesquely, we’re like ants crawling on God’s shoe, how could we figure out why He does what He does?
So if anyone asked, I would say I am a Christian. It’s the only religion I know anything about. I certainly am no Muslim (what would I do with 70 virgins?). And I don’t know much about Hinduism or Buddhism or any of those other Eastern religions.
Of course, I don’t know much about the prophet Joseph Smith or the angel Moroni, either. But that’s not why Glenn Beck’s Christianity is so different from mine. I don’t believe his vengeful credo springs from his Mormon faith. Or from his Roman Catholic upbringing. My guess is that he makes it up as he goes along.
So rave on Glenn Beck. And foam at the mouth you Beck disciples. I refuse to return your hate. But, just for the record, what you’re doing in no way represents the teachings of Jesus.