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Not that I, for one, was terribly hungry for more. Strangely, the book was not on sale in the lobby.
It's hard not to let the starved mind wander during all of this, to what kind of marketing ratfucker decided to trot these poor people on stage and use their losses to sell Beck's book, or to what kind of mother who has buried a young child would be satisfied with the looming aphorism, "No one who ever passes through the storm regrets the journey!" You can't help also wondering how much of the story reflects Beck's own life, which he tearily says it does. (It doesn't, though his addicted, mentally ill mother did drown when he was 15, an event he's turned into acres of self-pitying justification ever since. Whether or not she knitted, I could not say.)
The unholy ordeal of watching Beck "act" aside, the evening's lingering impression had nothing much to do with the puling, quick-fix "message" Beck had to offer, which is entirely unexceptional these days, or even his venomous-yet-saccharine political perspectives, which were not expressed explicitly. No, it was the shameless spectacle of the man himself. I normally avoid righteous demagogues like we tend to avoid photographs of severely burned faces, and so this intimacy with a preening, yowling, self-defined rescuer of America's soul, authoritatively telling other people how we should get up and get back to work (and make money to buy his books with) after our toddler's been eviscerated in a pile-up, or after cancer has turned our bones to charcoal—this was new to me. Naturally, my gaze turned to the viewers around me, who barely moved through the entire performance, and showed signs only of complete credulity and acceptance. Were we seeing the same man?
It's a simple cognitive dissonance I may never decipher. As the protagonist of The Island of Dr. Moreau said at novel's end, I look about me at my fellow man. And I go in fear.
Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater: A Return to Redemption will be rebroadcast in theaters nationwide on Thursday, December 10. Check ncm.com/fathom for ticketing information, if you must.