My Thoughts On Glenn Beck’s “Man In The Moon”

Man In the Moon

I was in Utah to see Glenn Beck’s show, Man In The Moon. I went into the event with a skeptical eye. I do like Glenn Beck (and got the distinct pleasure of meeting him during the weekend) but I will always approach his work with scrutiny because I know how easy it is to bend and warp a message in the light of fame. I wanted to make sure that the message he was presenting with his story was true and wasn’t leading people astray.

I wasn’t disappointed.

I am proud to say that I laughed, cried (a bit, in a manly way), and had my jaw drop on more than one occasion. I want to share with you my observations of the event, or at least of the major things I picked up.

Steampunk

First, let’s get the obligatory culture geekiness out of the way. This show began with two guys wearing top hats, goggles, and steampunk outfits breakdancing to dubstep. There were two bohemian-style fairies wearing goggles on their foreheads that flew down from the corners of the stage to unfurl the giant banner with emporium text reading “Man In The Moon.” There were giant robots that looked like colossal metal ents with flashlights for faces that moved and whirred and served as spotlights for the stage.

I was catatonic.

The music was fantastic as well, and the whole event showed that Beck and his team have their fingers right on the pulse of the American independent culture. The art style of the event made me think vaguely of Don’t Starve, a recently released indie survival game with a quirky aesthetic.

One of the towering spotlight robots. They flanked the stage and moved with lumbering, mechanical torque.
One of the towering spotlight robots. They flanked the stage and moved with lumbering, mechanical torque.

Tower of Babel

The first thing message-wise that really excited me was Glenn’s understanding of the Tower of Babel story. The idea is that the story of the Tower of Babel is a metaphor for progressivism. Glenn says that ” this time [humanity] didn’t make more, they made bigger, which I learned from them is completely different than more.” More leads to humanity fighting and killing each other over a desire for physical things. Bigger is the Tower of Babel, and we see humanity building this grand tower stretching towards the heavens.

In modern days, the Tower is also known as Utopia – man’s efforts to not only usurp God but become God by creating heaven on Earth. In the story, the Moon is saddened that God stopped humanity from completing the tower. The idea of Utopia sounds wonderful, but in reality it will always fail. Because God is evident in natural law – what works and what doesn’t  – we see that socialism, communism, statism – anything that seeks to replace God with the sovereignty of man and the “fixing” of society – is met with failure and ruin.

The Tower of Babel is a major theme in the story of humanity.

The construction of the Tower of Babel, man’s attempt to reach heaven.

Looking Up

This one was pretty clear, that everything in this world falls apart when we believe that we are the highest power that exists in this world. When we believe that we are the be-all-and-end-all, we’re only accountable to ourselves. When you look at history, you can see that the people who are most completely accountable to themselves only are the ones who have done the most evil. Totalitarian dictators and supreme rulers of a nation – the people who never hear the word ‘no’ – are the source of so much evil.

In the Bible, Jeremiah 17:9 it says that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Following the heart, with no higher power to convey right and wrong, leads to darkness.

The narrative of Man in the Moon says that, when things get darkest in human history, people forget to look up. We become beasts who forget about where we came from and why we’re here. The way the story of World War II is told – with air raid sirens and flashing, percussive fireworks skyrocketing from the hills all around, a mirthful calm followed by the abrupt shock of devastation from an atomic bomb – was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever seen.

"No!" the narrator pleads just as the entire stage erupts in nuclear fire.
“No!” the narrator pleads just as the entire stage erupts in nuclear fire.

The Moon

It’s emphasized several times that the moon is just a hunk of scarred rock that reflects the sun, but doesn’t actually emit light of it’s own. This is another theme of the show, the reflection. The Moon of the story tells humanity that, unlike him, humanity has been granted a little piece of God’s light.

I felt that the whole show was designed to do what so many in the Bible advocated: giving glory to God. I appreciated that Beck referred to earth as “Blue” and the Sun as “the Great Light.” I’m not sure, but I think this was an attempt to make it clear that he wasn’t advocating for the worship of the sun as God, as some do, but instead make it clear that the sun, like Aslan from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, is a metaphor for God, not a replacement. Perhaps not, but either way, that should be clear.

The moon reflects the sun’s light, just as it is our purpose to reflect God’s light in the world. Although we, unlike the moon, have the capacity to emit our own light and are given the dangerous gift of choice, it is important that we render any glory we could take for ourselves back up to the one who created us.

The moon of Man In The Moon is just a plain white sphere without the light of the projector.

Which leads us to…

Fireworks

The fourth and final big thing that I noticed was the narrative of the fireworks.

“On Fourth of July,” Glenn says, “usually what happens is that people sit together and then they all look up and then they get in their cars and go home. The problem with the country is we’re not looking up anymore, at least we’re not looking up at the same things and the right things. I’m tired of going to see a fireworks show on the Fourth of July.”

Yet Man in the Moon ended with a fireworks show. What gives?

As Glenn said, “we’re not looking up at the … right things.” The whole intention of the fireworks show is to produce the brightest, most beautiful lights humanity is capable of producing (and I’ll say, the fireworks show that served as the show’s finale was hands-down the best I’ve ever seen.)

Gold streaking down from the sky, silver crosshatching across the black, and a rapid fire explosive finale of sparks and color that looked like the finales I’ve always wanted but only imagined. But it wasn’t just, as so many jaded Americans sardonically smirk, a time to say “yeuh! AMURICA!” and “blow things up.” It was the most beautiful light humanity can produce, to the glory of God.

That’s the part I teared up. So yeah, I cried at fireworks.

Fireworks erupt as air raid sirens blare in a recreation of World War II.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on Man in the Moon. I loved seeing Utah for the first time with adult eyes, and I loved this show. Thank you, Glenn, for putting this together. It was an honor to meet you.

The journey to and from Salt Lake City was a long one, but it was a journey that was made joyfully by over 17,000 people.

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4 thoughts on “My Thoughts On Glenn Beck’s “Man In The Moon”

    1. I’m so glad to hear that! While I think that it was a very cool and nostalgic that Glenn broadcast it on the radio, the visuals were amazing, so I’m happy to hear that my article helped complete the picture.

  1. patt wheeler

    What an insightful compelling narration of a very powerful event. kudos Ben Nanke for you wonderful discriptions . I hope you get the chance to many more blogs. You have an understanding of metaphors and nuance an make it easy to picture.your insights and it gives us the feeling of being there with your compeling and honest reporting.

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