06 February 2008

Glenn in Idaho

This article originally ran in the Feb. 5th edition of the Scroll.

I'm a Glenn Beck fan. I've spent time listening to all the conservative radio show hosts: Rush, Hannity, Ingram, Savage, Medved. There are some I like and others I can't stand, but there's something about Beck that make him stand out.

I believe it is his conviction. Whether you think he's right or wrong, Beck believes in every cause he undertakes on his programs. He takes a lot of flack for his stances on illegal immigration, global warming, terrorism and other topics, but he refuses to back down.

He shows that same level of tenacity when it comes to his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though his faith is sometimes a giant bullseye, as Mormonism can be for high-profile individuals (see Mitt Romney), he often mentions it both on his radio program and television show.

Glenn Beck holds a unique place in the minds of Church members. He's a nationally prominent figure who is also “one of us.” Many people see him in the same light they view Steve Young, or Steve Martin.

And yet, Beck's a convert. He's only been a member for about eight years. He grew up in Seattle and lives in New York, places that are not exactly bastions of the LDS faith. So when he comes to an LDS area like Southeast Idaho, it's an interesting experience.

I attended such an event February 1, at the Civic Center Auditorium in Idaho Falls. Glenn had heard of the Clark family, of Rexburg, who were in severe need of assistance. Even though he is recovering from major surgery and his doctor has ordered him to be on bed rest, he decided to hold a benefit for the Clarks. $100,000 in tickets were sold, and upon hearing about this family in need, prominent businessman Jon Huntsman donated an additional $100,000.

Glenn opened the event by praising Idaho, the same way every rock band does in every city they visit. He mentioned he and his wife are looking for a place to settle down when he is “released from [his] calling,” and Idaho is looking better and better. “You people just get it,” he said. “In a world where so many people don't understand, you do.”

The crowd loved it. Everyone, but especially Church members, like it when someon from the “outside” comes in and tells them how great they are. Initially, I was cynical. “Of course he's going to talk up Spud Country,” I thought. “He's smack dab in the middle of it.”

But as time went on I realized that, like with everything he does, Glenn was being sincere. He really does see something special about Idaho.

He appreciates how guns are seen as tools and not instruments of evil in Idaho.

He likes how kids can go outside and play without the parents also scheduling their funerals.

He envies the way neighbors take care of each other.

Many people who live in Southeast Idaho, especially students, complain about “the bubble.” They speak in annoyed tones about how living here protects us, unnecessarily, from “the real world.”

But do we really need to experience higher crime rates? Do we want to see more babies born to single mothers? Do we want more drug dealers to move in to our neighborhoods?

I say no.

Glenn's message was not about politics. In fact, he only brought Hillary Clinton into the event once in the 90 minutes he spoke.

His focus was on appreciating this freezing, potato-ridden, great place we live.

As Glenn said just before he left, “Don't make it so a stranger has to come in and remind of what you have here.”

I've been planning on bolting from this frozen wasteland as soon as I graduate in December, but honestly, I'm not as eager to go anymore. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but maybe in reality, it isn't.


Aliese Fry said...

My husband and brother-in-law are big Glenn Beck fans as well. They both work construction together and that's what they listen to all day long.

Anonymous said...

Steve Martin? That was a joke I hope.

Brandon said...

You wish. I went to church with Steve when I lived in Utah.

Anonymous said...

That's an urban legend. The famous Steve Martin is not a member.