Glenn Beck's gospel

Glenn Beck announced today that he won't appear on his radio show for two days next week because of medical problems in his hands and feet. He said on his radio show that doctors tell him that there may be "small fiber" issues involved, and he will undergo two days of testing.

"I wouldn't ask for your prayers on healing," Beck said. "I would ask for your prayers on clarity. I would ask for your prayers...for a desire to continue to stand."

Beck tied his medical problems to "spiritual wounds." "There's a physical reason, but I believe physical, mental and spiritual are all can't injure the soul of someone and not have physical wounds appear eventually...a lot of physical things, a lot of mental things are from spiritual wounds and vice versa." Beck also attempted to interpret the news with a few religious references.

What is happening to my physical body to some extent and what it happening to me mentally is not a depression, is not a death. It is a transformation. It is a transcendence. It is a reaching out of the slime and pulling yourself out. So it is not bad news. It is just a transition period that will leave us in the end still meeting every day...still standing for what we want...still questioning with boldness the very existence of God. But it will leave us in the end being bearers of light.

All of this brings me back to Mark Leibovich's lengthy profile of Beck for the New York Times Magazine titled "Being Glenn Beck." For someone who sprinkles religious language in his appeals, you would think the profile would deal with Beck's faith a bit more. Instead we get just a few glimpses from his past.

By the mid-'90s, Beck had been married, divorced, pony tailed and seemingly at a dead end. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous, reluctantly attending his first meetings in a church basement in Cheshire, Conn. ... He tells of walking into a bookstore and loading up on books by a hodgepodge that included Alan Dershowitz, Pope John Paul II, Carl Sagan, Nietzsche, Billy Graham and Adolf Hitler. "The library of a serial killer," he called it. He even enrolled at Yale, with a written recommendation from an alum who was a listener at the time, Senator Joe Lieberman. He took one class, early Christology, but says he "spent more time trying to find a parking space" than in class and quickly dropped out.

Then the writer explains how the Becks landed in Mormonism -- as if they had picked out a minivan.

No. Honest. The section doesn't explore why the two were led to Mormonism, what attracted them to the faith, why they didn't choose Catholicism, etc.

Beck met Tania in 1998. She walked into the New Haven radio station where he was working to pick up a Sony Walkman she won in a contest. They began dating. He wanted to marry, and she agreed, but only on the condition that they find a religion together. They shopped around, attended services and eventually settled on Mormonism--inspired in part by Beck's best friend and radio sidekick, Pat Gray, who himself is Mormon. Beck, who was brought up Roman Catholic, has called his faith "the most important thing" in his life.

Man, for someone who feels so strongly about his faith, you would think religion would deserve another paragraph or two. Fear not: the piece gives us some information about how consumption habits.

Beck is also a showman at his core and a workaholic. His insomniac mind spins with ideas for segments and revenue streams (which he will duly e-mail to his staff at 3 in the morning). He sleeps little: three, maybe five hours a night if he is lucky, Beck told me. His Mormonism forbids coffee, but he consumes a lot of Diet Coke and chocolate.

Well, you don't know what led Beck to Mormonism, how it influences his political thinking, or, well, anything substantial. Do I sound picky? I just figured that in an 8,000-word piece, you could make room for something the man calls "the most important thing" in his life.

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