In the Beauty of Glenn Beck’s Lilies

Glenn Beck has some chutzpah.

He even cites the Battle Hymn of the Republic as some sort of proof of God’s mercifulness (the verse about the “beauty of the lilies”, of course). For a fiercer portrait of God, we might read another verse of the same Hymn:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.


Why does the canorous Christ of the Battle Hymn need a “terrible swift sword” with which to bludgeon His enemies to death? Glenn Beck doesn’t ask such questions during his nightly reverie on Fox.

I got the video from Pharyngula.

10 thoughts on “In the Beauty of Glenn Beck’s Lilies

  1. Amazingly, my son had to sing the Battle Hymn in a public school program a few years ago. I complained the next day to the principal. She understood my concern, said the choice surprised her, too, and said she would talk to the choir director. A week later, curious, I asked if anyone else had complained. No one had. I didn’t follow up with a formal complaint, and I sometimes regret that. But they never have sung it since then. Also, there was a mitigating circumstance in the context of their singing that song: a revue of patriotic songs. Still… in a public school? Singing about not only “His terrible swift sword”, but how “He died to make men free”? So much for the non-Christian kids, let alone the non-believing ones.

    I guess I shouldn’t be amazed, though. Every day my son’s school pledges allegiance to the flag and the one nation under God for which it stands.

  2. I think your son has every right to omit “God” from his pledge, or even to refuse to say it at all. As for the Battle Hymn, most people don’t even think about the words to songs, especially old patriotic ditties. Anyway, He died for our sins, so what do we have to complain about?
    Did you read Freethinkers, by Susan Jacoby?

    1. No, I haven’t read that. Got a copy for my dad, though, a few years before he passed away, and I believe he liked it a great deal. I intend to read it some day. Good book? And do you happen to know if she’s related to Russell Jacoby? I quite liked his book, The Last Intellectuals, about the retreat of intellectuals from public forums in our culture and the related dumbing down of public debates.

      I once suggested Aidan say “under Canada”–after explaining to him about the First Amendment–but I don’t think he ever did, though he did laugh at the idea.

  3. My dad, btw, was raised a Southern Baptist but quickly outgrew that. My parents raised me to be a Methodist until I dropped out of confirmation class, and while my mom still considers herself a Christian (a very liberal sort), my dad started falling from the faith entirely when his best friend died, about ten years before him, and he realized felt quite certain there was no afterlife. A few years later he declared himself a complete atheist, who, if he had to pick one, would consider the scientific method his religion. So Jacoby’s book was right up his alley. When he died there were certainly times I wished I believed in the afterlife myself. I think only the love and memories of others, and the consequences of your actions in this world, carry on. Far be it from me, though, to question anyone’s faith in reunion with their loved ones. More power to them.

  4. Yes, Freethinkers is an excellent book. I recommend it.

    Is it proper to call the scientific method a religion? It reminds me of religious people who write atheism–or skepticism–off as “just another religion.” This misses the point. Science is a self-correcting method of inquiry, not a belief system. If science is wrong about something, all it takes is consistent proof to the contrary to change the prevailing paradigm. Religion, too, does this, but only when it has lost its endless uphill battles against scientific progress.

    Suddenly, Galileo is a “son of the Church.” It took 400 years for that to happen, though. It took the Shoah for the Church to begin rethinking its anti-Semitism. Too little, too late.

  5. Strictly speaking, yes, you’re right. The scientific method can’t be called a religion. I think all my dad meant was that to him it was fundamental to a meaningful life and to what it means to be human.

    Me, I do think religious people are onto something when they call atheism “just another religion.” Like my dad, they go too far, but I have long considered the leap from agnosticism to atheism a leap of faith, and I do hear the tone of the recent convert and evangelist in the pronouncements of some atheists.

    1. I can agree with you about the tone of some atheists, but I still think that nonbelief (as Sam Harris quipped, like non-astrology) should not be confused with belief. Am I, as a non-Christian, defined by my non-Christianity? So how could I, as a nonbeliever in the broadest sense, be defined by that nonbelief?

  6. I hear you. It’s a good point, and I agree with it partly. Any belief one has in a God or gods or anything supernatural is more substantial than a rejection of such beliefs. That being said…

    Well, we’re heading into semantics, if we haven’t been there all along, but in my book, an atheist believes, decidedly, that their is no God while an agnostic is the true non-believer, not having a belief one way or the other.

    1. There is a tendency within the atheist movement–if it can be rightly called a movement–to move away from the word “atheist.” There are good reasons for this, and the main hindrance is the lack of a better word. Some have tried “brights”, which I dislike. Of course, there is no definite way of proving God does not exist, especially because it seems there are so many definitions of God. So, as Harris again said, “atheism is just the noises reasonable people make when confronted with religious dogma.” That seems like a decent working definition for now, though it depends whether we all agree on what makes a person “reasonable.” Back to semantics.

  7. I think that calls for something from the Devil’s Dictionary, don’t you think? “Religion: A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.”

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