Last week, Lawrence O’Donnell attempted to live up (or arguably down) to his Beck-bashing maestro predecessor Keith Olbermann by unleashing a litany about Bill O’Reilly, the word “hype”, Glenn Beck, the Bible and something about the end of the world.
The predictable MSNBC vs. FOX head-butting session wouldn’t have caught my attention except for one thing – the MSNBC host used the talking points skirmish to discredit the world’s most renowned literary source: The Bible.
After playing a very short clip of Beck chatting about the premonitory nature of the book of Revelation, O’Donnell scoffed on March 17th,
“The book of Revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious God would bring about the end of the world. Now, no half-smart religious person believes the book of Revelation anymore. Those people are certain that their God would never turn into a malicious torturer and mass murderer beyond Hitler’s wildest dreams.”
I’ll briefly interrupt this message to say: The above assessment of Revelation is dead wrong (click here to read more on the subject).
O’Donnell inferred that Beck’s mention of Revelation will cause people to think they can give up on life and be irresponsible. But after hearing Beck’s emphasis on preparedness and self-governing and reading Jesus Christ’s emphasis on the same (Matthew 25), it’s obvious that O’Donnell is completely missing the point.
However agnostic he might have tried to be on this issue, the former executive producer and writer of The West Wing couldn’t go on for very long without dropping his skeptic extraordinaire guise:
“Glenn Beck doesn’t know if this is the end of the world. Luckily for you, I do. I know – and I know it with absolute certainty – this absolutely is not – it is not the end of the world…”
Pardon me again: It’s easy to dismiss after-the-fact that the natural disaster which occurred in Japan was not “the end of the world”. No single disaster signals the actual end of the world, and Beck didn’t say so. He merely said what any person who acknowledges entropy and current events would say: There is a steady, interdependent decline going on worldwide. Watch out so you don’t get caught off guard.
“Why would anyone listen to a guy who doesn’t know if this is the end of the world when there’s another guy on MSNBC at 8 P.M and 11 P.M. every night who can tell you with absolute certainty - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that it is not the end of the world? What do I have to do? Change the title of this thing to ‘The It’s Not the End of the World Show’ with Lawrence O’Donnell?”
Weird advertising ploy aside, how is this guy privy to the future of the universe?
Apparently the public would much rather listen to a guy who tells them, “Don’t just take my word for it. Look it up yourself.” When it comes to scoring intellectual honesty thus far, I’ll have to say Glenn, 100 and Lawrence, 0.
If you thought The Last Word host couldn’t get any sillier, just take a look at what happened the next day:
“Did you see what Glenn Beck just did? He did something he has never, ever, ever, ever been forced to do before. Ever. He agreed with me. Do you have any idea how much it pained him to do that? I think we better back up and show that just one more time because it is not going to be every day that we get to roll tape of Glenn Beck being pushed back on his madness to the point that he has to publicly acknowledge that he agrees with me…and there you have television history.”
That’s television history? What happened to news about Japan and Libya?
This week the dapper little scuffle continued, with O’Donnell gloating:
“Glenn Beck is very, very angry with me - so angry that he dare not speak my name…I’ve gotten to Beck as no one has before – thrown him off his game by going where none of his television critics have gone before: To his preaching. To the religious components of his fact-free presentations on FOX News and his radio show…
…Beck has enjoyed the convention that we must never talk about another person’s religious beliefs…the more religious education you have, the less trained you are to observe a phony zone of sanctity around this subject…with 12 years of formal religious education behind me, in which matters of doctrine and faith were debated relentlessly in classrooms run by nuns and priests, I don’t have the fear that Beck thrives on – the political media’s fear of discussing religion…
…He is now enraged that I have told you the truth…he’s enraged that I would dare to suggest that the book of Revelation has nothing to do with what is going on in Japan or in the world today and that I know it has nothing to do with it…he is much more enraged that I have said good and thoughtful Christians do not believe the book of Revelation, just as no good and thoughtful Christian literally believes everything in the Bible.”
Pardon me one more time: The Bible contains a variety of literary styles within its pages, from literal to figurative. Coming from over 40 authors in a time span longer than 1500 years, the unity of its overall message is quite impressive and undeniable. This is among the reasons why (contrary to O’Donnell’s assessment), many thoughtful Christians believe what the Bible says.
Also, O’Donnell referenced misconceptions about the Old Testament that skeptics mistake for genuine criticism. Bible-believers don’t select “what makes sense”. We just read the Biblical message in its entirety, which resolves misunderstanding. It’s a matter of reading comprehension more so than interpretation.
“Glenn Beck’s fake Biblical literalist piety has taken itself to its obvious extreme…how long will his audience allow him to be wrong? …And tomorrow, Glenn Beck will be torn between the businessman side of himself who wants dearly to never refer to me in any way again for the rest of his life, and the religious fanatic side of himself that so far has been unable to resist the temptation I have put before him.”
Like every little boy at MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell has a conflicted man-crush on Glenn Beck. But how did it come to this?
Perhaps depressing, scripturally unfounded, soap-opera-style spirituality has something to do with it.
A 2005 episode of The West Wing that O’Donnell wrote entitled “In God We Trust” features the same sort of anti-Bible reasoning that he has used in the past few days (watch a scene here). Another West Wing episode of his centers around a politician being pressured by a “powerful Christian group”. In 2006, O’Donnell played an attorney in a TV drama series about a polygamist cult family.
The self-proclaimed socialist who is to the “extreme left of…mere liberals” is apparently enraged against the God of the Bible, oblivious to the fact that he has micharacterized that target beyond recognition.
O’Donnell has subsequently made Beck the scapegoat of Bible-believing Americans. Of course, one has to be Biblically literate in order to fully understand the meaning of “scapegoat”, so perhaps it isn’t fair to mention that term in the same sentence as O’Donnell.
O’Donnell’s excuse for attacking Beck is a lukewarm soup of the valid and invalid (he’s been thoroughly “Dawkinized“, at least). It is evident that matters of faith are not given much air time by the mainstream media. That is why last year I wrote that Beck shattered a glass ceiling in mainstream media by shamelessly invoking the faith of the individual within the political newsroom, and this year wrote about a Super Bowl ad that was rejected for featuring a Bible verse.
Yet in recent times it appears that most outlets treat religion as unquestionable only if it is in some fringe category like Black Liberation Theology and is believed by a liberal or two (as S.E. Cupp can attest). Christianity is treated like the plague - avoided if at all possible, quarantined and condemned if it makes its way in. The political media expects Christians to feel ashamed of and apologize for it.
It is the likes of O’Donnell that are building a “phony zone of sanctity” around religion by treating it like the brutal product of lesser-evolved human brains rather than a subject of intelligent debate. So many Christians have been conditioned to fear offending temperamental secularists by explaining the “private” matter of faith that public dialogue on the topic is hideously one-sided.
When somebody like Beck actually starts talking about the Bible, they are accused (ironically) of thriving on the “political media’s fear of discussing religion”. Thus continues the talking points rat race.
O’Donnell’s mockery of Beck is notable only because it highlights a contempt towards and confusion about the Bible that believers need to take seriously.
It is also amusing to note that O’Donnell apparently doesn’t realize that people scoffing at “the end of the world” is one of the signs of the end times.
(2 Peter 3:3-10, Matthew 24:36-44, Proverbs 27:1, James 4:14)
Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 16 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.
Read more of Amanda’s column Not Your Average Read in the Communities at The Washington Times.
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