Read Glenn's full keynote address from Restoring Courage: The Courage to Stand

Last year, hundreds of thousands of Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for an event called Restoring Honor.

Some of you were there. It may have changed you. I know it changed me.

In August, I challenged Americans to live a life of honesty and integrity. This year I have a new challenge.

Today, I ask you turn your eyes to Israel and restore courage.

I have been asked: What can you teach Israel about Courage? My answer is simple. Nothing.

Then they ask: Why are you coming to Israel? Because, I say: In Israel, you see courage.

In Israel, there is more courage in one square mile than in all of Europe. In Israel, there is more courage in one soldier than in the combined and cold hearts of every bureaucrat at the United Nations. In Israel, you can find people who will stand against incredible odds… against the entire tide of global opinion, for what is right and good and true. Israel is not a perfect country. No country is perfect. But it tries… and it is courageous.

Today, the world needs courage more than ever.

We need it because whether you live here in Jerusalem, or in London, or in Athens, or in Washington, D.C., you know – we all know -- the world is changing, the world is burning, and whatever we have known… whatever we’ve thought would never change… whatever we’ve grown to think is solid and strong and durable … is under siege.

You don’t have to be a prophet to know that things are not going well in the world. The threats are mounting. Darkness is falling.

Far too many politicians are willing to look away. The shape shifters are at work. They have turned day into night, good into evil. They have changed the very meaning of words.

In New York, the so-called leaders of the world talk about abuses of human rights. But what they will do is abuse the very meaning of the phrase “human rights.”

“Human rights,” they say. But who will they focus on? Libya? Syria? North Korea? No.

They will condemn Israel. Tiny Israel. Democratic Israel. Free Israel. Israel, which values life above all other things.

Israel, as usual, is the exception.

-------

The world is adrift. The world is confused.

In Europe, the great nations of the past – Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain – are falling into chaos and violence.

We have raised up a generation who cannot tell the difference between what they owe society and what society owes them.

They interviewed the rioters in England. Why, they were asked, are you stealing shoes or televisions. “Because,” the rioters said in response, “because we deserve them.”

We may think: Oh, how different are today’s youth! But the young merely imitate their parents. They have seen how the world reacts to evil – with indifference. They watch, they learn, they imitate. What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.

When the Fogel family was killed in their sleep the world barely took note. The grand councils of earth condemn Israel. Across the border, Syria slaughters its own citizens. The grand councils are silent. It’s no wonder children light their streets on fire.

These international councils, these panels of so-called diplomats, condemn Israel not because they believe Israel needs to be corrected. They do so because it is convenient.

Everyone does it. In some countries, it’s a crime not to.

The diplomats are afraid, and so they submit. They surrender to falsehood. The truth matters not. To the keepers of conventional wisdom, a sacrifice of the truth is a small price to pay. What difference does it make if we beat up on little Israel? These are the actions of the fearful and cowards.

But I stand here to tell you this: Fear is the pathway to surrender. And to overcome fear, we must have courage.

This is hard to do. Especially here. Especially now.

The plotters plot. The schemers scheme. And it is easy to tremble with doubt.

Even Israelis – the most courageous people on earth – doubt themselves. “Did we do something to deserve this? Perhaps if we just do something else, it will all go away!”

My Israeli friends, I have a message: You must not lose hope. You must not lose confidence. You must have courage.

And you must draw courage from the knowledge that you were led to this land by God. And in the affairs of mankind, God is not a stranger to the children of Abraham.

He promised that Israel would rise again. For two thousand years the Jewish people held on to this promise. We have seen the promise fulfilled.

Israel, we have witnessed the dawn of your redemption.

We live in an age of manmade, technological miracles. But these are the days of divine miracles.

Not by the hand of any man, whether his name is Balfour or Truman, does Israel exist. Israel is here because the God of Abraham keeps His covenants.

In synagogues just over a week ago, they read the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Comfort, oh comfort My people,

Says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

And declare to her

Her term of hard service is over . . .”

And look at us! Here we are – in Jerusalem united. Jerusalem rebuilt.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not neutral in the affairs of mankind. God is not indifferent to Israel. He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant he made with your forefathers.

-----

In the 40 years of wandering in the desert, the ancient Hebrews were led through the dark of night by a pillar of fire.

Courage is the act of walking into the darkness, and knowing that each step would be guided and protected by the pillar of fire, if we follow it. God is with us.

I will admit, I did not know this, until very recently.

For the first half of my life I did very little. I was the stereotypical American that believed two oceans would forever shelter me.

As a radio and TV commentator, my job was little more than pointing out the problems. And I did. I saw what I thought were obvious things, and I made obvious observations.

I saw the interviews of Osama bin Laden, and so in 1999, I said he will attack New York again. He did.

I saw the unreal expectations of ordinary Americans in 2006, and so I said – there will be a crash in the housing market. It can’t keep going up. And it crashed.

I saw the global financial markets ready to seize up in 2007… I saw the coming unrest and riots in Europe in 2008.

It didn’t take a prophet to see these things – all you had to do was recognize that evil exists and evil was going unopposed.

And so this year, when I saw Tunisia’s and Egypt’s rulers crack and fall and the world called it the Arab Spring, I said: Where could this be going? And behind these revolutions was a familiar force, a force that will place those nations under a new pharaoh. And that force, I said, would come up to the borders of Israel. And so it has.

We are not at the mercy of these events. We can alter the course of history. We can stand against the dangerous arc of this story.

But we need people who are willing to speak truth. We need inspiration. We need a model to follow.

The last century was a century of genocide. A century where evil rose up again and again… swallowing up the lives of millions.

But evil met its match. Goodness eventually prevailed. People like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr. and Lech Walesa and Mother Theresa and Henrietta Szold awoke the world.

They gave their lives to the pursuit of human rights. They took the side of justice against injustice, they held aloft the torch of freedom to push out the darkness of hate.

These men and women lived difficult lives. They often lived shortened lives. They were often born to relative privilege, but willing to take on suffering. They did want not to martyr themselves. They would have happily lived to the end of their natural lives in comfort… but to the righteous, there is no comfort when evil has taken root.

But the cause of human rights has been taken over by organizations who share little with the individuals who led the movement. Human rights was once a cry for justice. Now it used as a threat.

These organizations have become bullies and grotesque parodies of the principles they pretend to represent. They criticize free nations and spare the unfree. They denounce nations like Israel and America, who have high standards for freedom, and leave alone nations that have no freedom at all. They are nearly comical in their double-standards. Whatever moral force they once had is spent. Their time is up. And so, we dismiss them.

Today, we take back the phrase “human rights” and place it where it belongs, as the first half of God’s plan for humanity. The second half is responsibility.

If we want to be endowed with rights – real human rights, we have to act with responsibility. We must not be comfortable with rights. We must be comfortable with responsibility. We cannot use our few short years on this planet enjoying our rights… we must do everything we can living by our responsibilities to our fellow man. Rights and responsibilities. The two go hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, together.

Nowhere in the Torah or the Christian Scriptures do you see the phrase words “human rights.” But there is a lot in there about responsibilities.

Everything we know about human rights and civilization came from this place. Whether you live by 613 commandments or 10 or just one golden rule, they all came from here. This throne of the Lord.

When the world turns its back on Israel and the Jewish people, the world turns its back on the source of all human rights. Without the Jewish people, humanity would not know that every individual life has dignity, that every life is sacred, that God names every star and knows every soul. That was God’s message to Abraham and Moses. It is the message of the Jewish people to the world, and by their very existence they teach it to us.

Today I propose a new path. I propose a path led by you – the individual, linked in arms with other individuals. A path where governments and so-called human rights organizations get out of the way and people come together to solve our problems. As God intended.

Some may ask: Why not leave this work up to others – the well-connected and well-educated and well-heeled, our political leaders or the media?

Well, I ask you: Whom do you trust to do this sacred work?

Who will protect your rights better? A king, president or you?

Who will protect the truth? A reporter, producer or you?

Who will protect and teach your children to seek truth? A textbook committee, an education bureaucrat, or you?

Did a commission of wise men stop the Holocaust? Did a committee of Congress end Jim Crow?

No. In each case, the work was done by individuals who would not abide convenient lies. They saw injustice and they called it out. They saw their nation wage war against a single group and they said “Not in My Name.” They didn’t wait for the conventions of society to catch up to God’s laws. They pushed. They pressed. And they were victorious.

This spirit lives within us. I believe that you will link arms with others and stand with courage, and walk behind the pillar of fire.

-----

You see evil rear its head in our time. You see the signs again. The swastikas are on display in the street marches. This week they’re holding up signs in Cairo that say: We’re building the gas chambers. They dress their children in suicide belts. They are given the choice, and they choose death.

Let us have the courage to choose life. No more incitement. No more threats. No more terror. No more talk of genocide. No more hate. No fear. No more lies.

We can read their signs, listen to their speeches. So we know that they say what they mean and mean what they say.

Well: So do we.

And I know we will be victorious. Because while their conviction is rooted in hate, our conviction is rooted in love. And love always wins.

When Naomi and her daughters in law lost their husbands, Naomi knew that their future would be far brighter if they went back to their families, to start over. But her daughter in law Ruth would have none of it. She said,

“Entreat me not to leave thee,

or to return from following after thee:

for whither thou goest, I will go;

and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:

thy people shall be my people,

and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.”

And so I say that if the world decides it must know who will stand with Israel, who will stand with the Jewish people, so they know exactly who to condemn, who to target, let them know this.

Condemn me. Target me. I will stand with Israel. I will stand with the Jewish people. And if they want to round us up again, I will proudly raise my hand and say “Take me first.”

-----

There is courage in our time. It is here in this space. It is found everywhere God resides in the hearts of man. It is found in Joplin Missouri. Joplin was devastated by a tornado a mile wide. They lost their hospital and their school. Joplin looked more like a moonscape than the pleasant town it was.

But this is a town not looking to take help but to offer it. They began to gather early this morning. Many are taking the day off from work to show their dedication and love of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

Our problems demand more than checkbook courage. It’s easy to write a check. But we can’t outsource love and truth and courage. We must do it ourselves. We must roll up our sleeves to make a lasting difference.

We will find hope. We will renew ourselves. We will be the first to regain what many of us have lost ... Our faith. Together, we will begin to change the world.

We won’t find the answers in some global body halfway around the world…but in ourselves. We won’t find purpose in the drumbeat of destruction and disobedience we hear in the West, but in a mission of building and honor and courage.

In people like Rami Levi. In people like Tamar Fogel. In the owners, one a Jew the other an Arab, who built and reopened the Maxim restaurant after it was bombed. Each made a decision on their own to build.

The prophets and sages promise us, that by small and simple things do great things come to pass… and small means will confound the wise. Let us confound the world.

This will be a movement of honor…. courage… and responsibility.

God has made man in His image and after His likeness. He has endowed us with great privileges and rights. And He has given us purpose on this earth. His blessings are our rights. His purpose is our responsibility.

Because we have a right to worship freely, let us declare: We have a responsibility to fight for the rights of others to worship freely.

Because we have a right to pursue happiness, we have a responsibility to be thankful for our blessings and to comfort the needy.

Because we have a right to knowledge and truth, we have a responsibility to pursue it, and to fight falsehood.

These declarations of responsibility, and others, are being posted at www.glennbeck.com. In the coming days, I want each of you to print them, read them, carry them, and make them a part of your lives. Share them with your family and friends. Remember all that God has done for you, teach these lessons to your children, and obey God’s word. And join me on a historic march towards human responsibility.

Evil is counting on us to do nothing. Evil is counting on us to be afraid. But evil has misjudged us.

Evil has misjudged us as it has misjudged the Jewish people. The last line of a Jewish prayer is…

Adonai li, v’lo ira

God is with me, I fear not.

Those two lines have been uttered for centuries. Through crusades. Through progroms. Through the gas chambers. At the hands of butchers.

In every generation, they rise up to kill Jews. And in every generation, the answer is the same.

LO IRA. I fear not.

I will wait for someone else to rise no more. This time, we are the ones who say – LO IRA.

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Let us begin here: some people call Israel an apartheid state. I reject that. And so immediately following this program I will fly to South Africa, which is where apartheid actually existed. I will broadcast from Cape Town tomorrow morning to remind the world what the evil of apartheid really looked like.

And I will learn from the people who conquered the hatred, ignorance and bigotry and who chartered a peaceful course for a new South Africa.

Then on Friday I will fly to South America to plead the case of human responsibility to a group of nearly 5,000 local leaders from all over the continent and ask them to join me in standing in defense of Israel, the Jewish people and responsibility.

Finally on Sunday, I will speak to 5,000 Americans in Dallas, Texas. I have chosen to end my week in the town where I will headquarter the charitable division of my company, Mercury One. Dedicated to the idea that one man, inspired by one God, makes a difference. This trip will end where a global moment begins.

This won’t be easy for me, and it won’t be easy for you.

Others will say, “come with us, over the horizon.” But that horizon is a cliff. And when you don’t go along, you will stand out. You will be mocked and in some cases your life may be in danger.

So you must remember to say: LO IRA. I fear not.

No one wants to be on the point, the person that sticks out. My first death threat came in 2002 after my first visit to Israel and my declaration of support of the Jewish people and state. My latest death threat was today.

And so I say: LO IRA. I fear not.

Many of us may fall along the way. Some will have their reputation destroyed or business or career ended and others still may pay the ultimate price.

But let us link arms and make the journey together and if one shall fall, let 10 join our ranks.

You were not born so someone else could rule over you. God did not create you, endow you with rights so you could remain silent while injustice and evil grow. You have a purpose and it is rooted in love, compassion and responsibility.

There are many reasons to hear my words, leave here and do nothing. We all have been trained to believe that we are not strong enough, smart enough or powerful enough.

Abraham was old, Moses was slow of speech, Ruth was a widow, David was a little boy, Joseph was in prison, and Lazarus was dead. What is your excuse?

You were born for a time such as this. Begin by declaring that this is why you were placed on this earth. It doesn’t matter how you’ve spent your years on this planet. What matters is what you do now from here.

I cannot promise you safety, prosperity or comfort.

But I can promise you this. One day, your children and grandchildren will ask you: “What did you do when the world was on the edge again? What did you say when the West, Israel and the Jews were blamed again?”

You will look them in the eye and say: I had courage. And on the 24th of Av, I committed to stand with courage… to walk… to march… arm in arm… behind God’s pillar of fire.

Adonai li v’Lo Ira.

God is with me, I fear not.

He may not be a super hero like he plays in the movies, but Chris Pratt is proving once again why he's a hero to so many. The silver screen protector of the universe announced on his Instagram page a contest that will benefit the Brain Treatment Foundation, who is a partner of Mercury One that does amazing work with veterans. The Brain Treatment Foundation specializes in helping combat veterans who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The contest asks fans to donate $10 to the foundation for a chance to win a trip to drop in on the Guardians of the Galaxy star on the set of his new film Tomorrow War.

Watch his video below to hear all the details.


Ryan: The Ascent of Kanye West

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Apollo, god of poetry, light, prophecy, dance. Star of Greek mythology, rivaled only by Zeus, his father. God of justice. God of purification, knowledge, healing. God of the Sun. But most of all, god of music. So they called him the Leader of the Muses.

And on a bright Sunday morning midway through November, at the tail end of a decade, Kanye West looked out at the congregation of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, a 16,000-seater originally built for the Houston Rockets, and said, "Jesus has won the victory: Now the greatest artist God ever created is now working for him."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye's newest album, Jesus Is King, had been out for three weeks, and like every Kanye album, it was controversial, as adored as it was unaccepted.

Critics had shown a mostly tepid response, but nobody could tell if their disinterest was genuine, or if it was politically motivated.

After all, for the past year, Kanye had once again managed to penetrate the epicenter of American society. The last two Presidents had literally shamed and cursed Kanye, but, still, who could've guessed he would befriend this one?

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The week after Kanye's Olsteen appearance, at the House impeachment hearings, as the entire country watched and listened, Congressmen and diplomats would mention longtime Kanye collaborator A$AP Rocky no less than five times, in casual reference to the Kardashians and the deal between Trump and Sweden, struck at the urging of Kanye West.

Meanwhile, Jesus is King became the ninth consecutive Kanye album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 — a feat he shares with Eminem and The Beatles — and the sixth time in the 2010s alone. And, to be fair, his only studio album not to debut at number one was The College Dropout, his first, which went triple platinum and earned the third-most Grammy nominations in one night, winning Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song with "Jesus Walks."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Jesus is King was also the first record ever to top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Rap Albums, Christian Albums, and Gospel Albums simultaneously. All eleven tracks charted on the US Billboard 100, joining the other 96 Kanye songs to have landed on the Top 100.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

This album was different, and not just because of Kenny G. For the first time, Kanye was not a god or a self-destructive fallen angel. He was a father, a husband, a son, and, most important, a man full of belief, with his hands outstretched, surrounded by a choir.

"I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a breakdown," he told the congregation, "and there's documentations of me drawing a church and writing about starting a church in the middle of Calabasas."

That night, following an afternoon of ice-skating at the Galleria, Kanye returned to Lakewood Church and performed a concert. Imagine hearing a his electro-gospel opera in an arena designed, acoustically, for professional basketball games. Only better, because everything had been padded. With LSD graphics on the swirly blue carpet.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When we experience art, it changes us.

So there I was, four rows from the stage, crying in front of FoxNews. Because Kanye had brought his Sunday Service choir with him, and they were singing "Ultralight Beam," one of the few perfect songs ever made, a song that played during my wedding ceremony, the song my daughter, God willing, will be born to, a song I have never once listened to without at least tearing up.

“Jesus Is King" A Sunday Service Experience at Lakewood Church with Kanye West youtu.be

"This is a God dream, this is a God dream. This is everything."

Kanye was the only person onstage dressed in his own clothing, a neatened blazer. The choir were draped in grey, like holy silhouettes.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

So who cares about FoxNews and their snotty reporters in their shoulder-padded blazers. The rest of us had drifted into the immediacy of it all. And I wasn't about to play stoic journalist here. I wasn't a reporter first and a human or an American later.

The choir zigzagged on the loft flanking the stage. Each of them had a headset microphone, like Garth Brooks.

God only knew how they sang so perfectly. How did they project their voices like that? More beautiful than anything we had ever heard, more beautiful than water.

After "Ultralight Beam," it was "Every Hour," the mesmeric opening track of Jesus Is King.

Sing every hour, Every minute, Every second, Sing each and every millisecond, We need you

Every Hour youtu.be

The performance felt all the more sacred because this was church, where people gathered to lose themselves, to sing as a chorus, to confront who they really are.

Across the street, one protestor stood hollering.

Meanwhile thousands of people waited at the entrance, giddy to get in. They would join us in no time. Soon, they would fill every seat in this church.

*

That morning, Kanye told Olsteen,

"It's like the devil stole all the good producers, all the good musicians, all the good artists, all the good designers, all the good business people and said, 'you gotta come over and work for me.' And now the trend, the shift, is going to change."

Jesus Is King was the result of a new cultural and artistic movement that more or less started with 2016's Life of Pablo, Kanye's closeted gospel album. Which was a surprising departure from 2013's Yeezus, with its tangled social commentary and fashionable solipsism. And that drum sound, the one every half-decent producer has spent the last six years failing to emulate.

The 2010's saw him grow more cerebral. He even teased a book of philosophy titled Break the Simulation.

Then, in 2018, he released Ye, the second of five albums in a Kanye-produced series, all recorded at his Wyoming studio. In keeping with the criticisms of hip-hop he voiced on "Ye vs. The People"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye eschewed many of the themes he'd embraced for so long, replacing them with meditations on mental illness, fatherhood, suicide, love, and addiction. The album's working title had been "LOVE EVERYONE."

On "I Thought About Killing You," he raps,

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest.

The title "Ye" is not just the diminutive of "Kanye."

As he said in an interview

I believe 'ye' is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and, in the Bible, it means 'you,' so it's [saying] "I'm you, I'm us, it's us." It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything, that I'm just more of a reflection of who we are, just as beings.

Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer wrote that

All individuality is a manifestation of universal life, and hence everyone carries a tiny bit of everyone else with him, so that divination is simulated by comparison with oneself.

In the months following the release of Ye, Kanye would live out this idea, and build his own movement, a reflection of who we are, then begin his church in Calabasas.

*

At 10:30 that morning, the three of us — Samantha Sullivan, my wife Caroline, and me —- strolled into the arena and claimed seats in the media section.

That place resembled the inside of an ant colony. We were three ants.

The service began with errorless music, then shifted into a quick, stirring message by Osteen, who always seemed to appear onstage from nowhere, privvy to the kind of big-money stage tricks you find at a Shania Twain concert.

The entire place and all the Jumbo-Trons and all the people, it all had a cinematic presence.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

A preliminary giddiness spread through the room. Then, Kanye emerged, there on the stage, and the place erupted.

A man in a "Jesus is King" shirt danced around his seat.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Everyone took their seats, but one man standing in the crowd shouted affirmations. "Speak truth my brother," he shouted.

The man shouted several more times, then Kanye politely told the guy to hold off on the support because it wasn't helping, because Kanye needed relative quiet to capture and release his flow.

The ceiling glowed in skittish purple.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye described the corrupting force of the media. A chill came over the room. Behind him, the unapologetic blue of Jesus Is King.

It was my first encounter with Joel Osteen, and I was surprised and somewhat baffled to find him likeable, based on everything I'd ever heard about the man.

Kanye said as much, that Osteen is nothing like the version of Osteen many people have broadcast.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Osteen laughed, "When you've got Kanye defending you, you've made it, man."

Rays of light danced through the arena. I'm talking Pink Floyd light show levels.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

With 21 Grammys, Kanye is tied with Jay-Z as the most decorated hip-hop artist of all time.

Osteen asked Kanye what he would say to his younger self, if he could go back in time.

"You know, it's nothing I can say to the younger Kanye through words," he said. "I could speak to the younger Kanye through music."

*

Osteen played the middle section of "God Is," arguably the focal point of the album.

And Kanye danced and rapped along with it. And the surreality of the situation was daunting. Was that really Kanye West up there? with Joel Osteen? dancing to his gospel song?

Six or seven years ago, I saw Kanye a mile away at the Toyota Center — coincidentally, the current home of the Houston Rockets — for his and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne tour. It was a much different experience than this.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When Kanye finished, the media flooded out. As did a quarter of the people in the congregation. This bothered many of the regulars.

Security and ushers yanked big grey mop buckets from cabinets, and dispersed them down aisles, and money music played.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then the time for prayer. Prayer leaders lined the walls and pews. And anyone could walk over to them and pray. Men and women clung to strangers, crying sometimes, hugging. Holding hands, whispering phrases.

*

One of the media coordinators pulled us out of the sermon, led us through passageways and elevators, past classrooms and security guards, through a black sheet, then behind a barricade.

This is where all the media had rushed off to like old folks trying to get the best seat for bingo.

Each news outlet was allowed one question.

After 15 minutes, the energy changed and you could tell they were near.

Then, Kim Kardashian-West was walking our way, holding her daughter's hand, followed by Kanye, who was followed by Osteen.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

"Nice tags," Kanye said, referring to my "GOOD" necklace.

Then:

Brief interview with Kanye West and Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Nov. 17 in Houston, TX www.youtube.com

Some of the outlets asked more than one question, but that was on them. They were the ones sinning in church.

*

As Kanye and Olsteen shuffled away, down the line of journalists, I said hello to a small crew from FoxNews as they packed their equipment.

"We're from TheBlaze," I said, smiling. To which they sneered and glanced at one another then got back to their conversation.
Samantha rolled her eyes and the three of us wandered around for an exit.

"Did we just get stiff-armed by Fox News?" Said one of us. "I didn't think they were allowed to look down on anybody."
"I've had that with people from Fox on several occasions," one of us replied.

"I mean, I thought I was doing them a favor a favor by acknowledging them. Nobody else does."

Then it happened again, a few minutes later, this time with someone we had worked with, someone who knew us.
You bet we were salty.

Bad as it felt to be judged like that, it was good to be underestimated. A relief. It meant we could perform without anyone caring or watching.

They had no idea who we were or what we were really doing. Good.

*

In November 2007, Kanye's mother died during a routine surgery. He and his mom, Dr. Donda West, had always been incredibly close. She raised him alone, after Kanye's father left, when Kanye was three.

A few months later, his engagement with Alexis Phifer abruptly ended.

He was 30 at the time.

Oddly, this tragic sequence of events would cause the birth of auto-tune in rap. Broken-hearted, Kanye wanted to sing. So he ran his voice through a vocoder.

Kanye's album 808s & Heartbreak, which like Jesus is King has no curse words, shoved music ahead at least two decades, into a world of synth-driven robotic R&B/Rap love songs belted out in janky auto-tune. That description doesn't sound ridiculous today. But that's only because Kanye eschewed the stale hip-hop of the early 2000s and reinvented the genre, something he has accomplished with every album.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then, he went on tour. But he never took off any time following his mother's death. And, by the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he'd fallen to what he calls his sunken place.

He and then-girlfriend Amber Rose brought a bottle of Hennessy with them to the award show. They took slugs in the limo. Then on the red carpet.

When Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video, Kanye stormed the podium, sunglasses on, and grabbed the microphone, said "Imma let you finish," then let everyone know the award should've gone to Beyoncé, for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

He was kicked out immediately. He tweeted, "Everybody wanna booooo me but I'm a fan of real pop culture... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real."

Followed by an apology. Then a few days later, during an appearance on debut episode of "The Jay Leno Show"

Leno asked Kanye, "What do you think [your mom] would have said about this?"

That hit Kanyelike a punch to the jaw. He teared up, froze.

He publicly apologized to Swift. Several times.

But it did little to quell the blowback. Once again, it felt like the entire nation hated Kanye. Compounded by a hot-mic recording of Barack Obama — the country's first black President — calling Kanye a jackass.

So the embattled Kanye retreated to Hawaii to record a masterpiece, 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

*

"We are a Christian country," Kanye said at one point, to uproarious applause.

The vast majority of Americans, 90 percent, believe in a higher power.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

And America has the largest number of Christians in the world, with roughly 167,000,000, comprising 65-to-70 percent of the population. But that's down from 80 percent, as part of a downward trend over the last two decades.

The percent of Americans who attend a religious service of any kind — church, synagogue, or mosque — is even lower, less than half.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

One political scientist blamed the public's growing distrust in institutions. Another blamed conservatives. A writer from New York Magazine took it a step further.

Meanwhile, David French.

As always, the issue is far more nuanced than either side will admit.

Somehow, in the last twenty years, church and religion had become not just uncool, but slightly villainous.

All day, every time I looked around — at people singing, at people dancing, at people crying in joy or in the relief and recognition of their pain — I thought, "How could this ever be a bad thing?"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

I had spent my life going to concerts, had seen Kanye West numerous times, and this was something other than a concert, and unlike anything I'd seen from Kanye. It was also more than just religious or spiritual.

A family of strangers in a city of 6 million, in a world of 7-and-a-half billion, broadcast live, led by a man who fought off the devil in front of us for years. Who struggled with life just like we do, only we could nitpick through the one-way mirrors of our phones and our TVs.

But, now, he had been baptized in public.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Some people were still negative about Kanye's recent faith, especially Christians. As Kanye raps on "Hands On"

What have you been hearin' from the Christians?
They'll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Consensus was, they couldn't believe him. As a Kanye fan since I was 13, I can tell you that he is genuine. It's really his only setting. Plus, his spiritual transformation has been building for quite some time.

*

By the time we returned to Lakewood that evening, the sky had turned dark blue, and frantic with airplanes.

The sidewalks around the arena overflowed with people. Police cars jutted out in crooked lines to block entrances or exits, the strobe of red-white-blue whirling onto pedestrians' faces.

Across the street, facing the giant arena, a man with a bullhorn ranted about the evils of sinful music.

Earlier that day, sheepish protestors had occupied the spot, holding red poster-sized letters that spelled out "I M P E A C H." There were only four of them, though, so they had to double up and share, and sometimes the "H" slanted down or the "I" slipped loose.

"Impeach Kanye?" one of us said, laughing.

"Kanye 2020," shouted someone.

The air was electric. People bounced when they stepped, or walked faster than normal, or turned oddly as they spoke like a third-year professor.

They sang along as they passed traffic-jam cars, most of which were blasting Kanye.

A chorus of police whistles and the usual rumble of semi-trucks passing on US-59. Just down the street, porn shops and strip clubs and a Ferrari dealership. Immediately Southwest, the Mahatma Ghandi District. West, the Galleria, home of the opulent Galleria mall, where Kanye and Kim and family gone ice-skating earlier.

Inside the arena, a different world, low-lit and glowing. A dreamscape of lambent crimsons and violets, a deeper, warmer, slower take on the lights atop the police cars outside. Globular squares of blue were arrayed along the ceiling.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When the musicians emerged to their instruments, the arena was still half-empty. The show had already been delayed 40 minutes. The demand to get in was so ferocious that the security gate was jammed up like a glass Ketchup jar.

Then, like spirits, men and women drifted onstage in all-grey uniforms and matching hats that looked like they should say "VIETNAM VETERAN" but actually said "Sunday Service."

Every single member wore brand-new grey YEEZY Boosts.

From the start, the performance was cinematic, a sort of new-world opera sung by a chorus of young American muses with nose rings or gold chains or dreadlocks or pink hair.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

From the huddle, a young man rose, and began reciting a poem. It was the invocation of the muse.

Gadamer wrote that poetry "becomes a test of what is true, in that the poem awakens a secret life in words that had seemed to be used up and worn out, and tells us of ourselves"

*

After a whirling rendition of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," the choir began "Ultralight Beam."

They let the song spread. It grew enormous.

The air swirled as the song widened.

Kanye waited out of view, then appeared without ceremony.

A collective gasp when people recognized the melody of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Which sounds like a dream already, with all that wilderness.

So it was even stranger when the song morphed into SWV's "Weak," a skating rink anthem written by Charlie Wilson of the GAP Band. A classic.

The choir were their own countervailing force. Yet they also connected us to the drama of the performance.
Looking back, I wish I could live in those moments forever.

*

Then came their cover of "Father Stretch My Hands" by Pastor T.L. Barrett And the Youth for Christ Choir.

Father Stretch My Hands www.youtube.com

Kanye has paid homage to Barrett's track on two different songs, from two different albums.

It was his prayer.

Pastor T.L. Barrett, a man who's lived an exciting and at times difficult life, only to become a Pentecostal preacher on Chicago's south side, and form a choir of 40 teenagers from his weekly choir practice.

If you dive into Barrett, you'll better understand what Kanye is doing.

*

Ten seats from Kim Kardashian-West, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX) stared ahead in a neat grey suit, occasionally poking at his phone and blasting people on Twitter.

Which means there were at least two people in the building who have appeared on Saturday Night Live.

There were other politicians, including Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick. And even more at the earlier service. You could tell they were politicians the same you can tell a vegan burger from a real Whopper. Several times, Kanye held up his phone up and read the words from his newer songs.

Like "Selah," which built into "Hallelujah"s at the end, intoxicating and perfect, like being sucked into an undertow. Which led into "Follow God," a continuation of "Father I Stretch My Hands."

Kanye uses the image of stretched hands to express his own submission and the process that leads to his healing. As a reference to John 21:18

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

But the song is also about Kanye's literal father, and an argument they had. Then, under it all, he adds a sample of "Can You Lose By Following God" by Whole Truth. He ended the song with his Kanye shriek, somewhat confusing and abrasive with a choir present.

Then — something I did not expect. The thumping bass of Cajmere's "Brighter Days (Underground Goodie Mix)."

And now this was cosmic gospel.

It felt like a rave. Have you been to a rave? It's people dancing, taking MDMA. That is what it felt like.

Flourishes like that were part of Kanye's genius. No other gospel performance would dare. You won't find that kind of diversity at any other hip-hop show, either. The acoustic instruments, the choir. Maybe during a set by electronic musicians like Moodyman or DJ Koze. But, no choir. Yet here Kanye was, at Joel Osteen's church, blasting classic techno.

Oddly enough, though, the most popular song of the night was "Closed on Sunday," Kanye's ode to Chic-Fil-A.

Everyone in the arena knew the words. So then there were two choirs, in a dialogue. I didn't think it was possible, but the collective harmony got even more intense and engulfing than it had all night. So much so that the house speakers started to peak in one corner of the arena.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use a chorus. In the 5th Century B.C., 50 actors would gather in the orchestra pit and sing in unison, commenting on the action of the play, describing scenes to the audience. They were a collective force. They represented one character, who was able to connect the audience to the characters and events onstage.

Kim Kardashian was front and center filming with her phone, as two of the West kids jumped around on the trippy blue carpet.

The performance was nearing its end, and suddenly Kanye was dressed like everybody else in the choir. Grey Yeezy kit and the Sunday Service hat. His transformation. From Kanye West to Pastor Ye, stretching hands.

Then, he was gone.
One by one, the choir began fluttering off the stage, to the Clark Sisters' "You Brought the Sunshine."

Half were gone, when I noticed the singer with braided hair crying. With every exhale, she collapsed her hands into the floor. Let them fall like tired flowers. Arrayed in fitful blue. She gasped. She heaved her shoulders like a wingspan. For a moment it was like she would actually take flight.

A security guard peered over the railing from above the stage. He looked like God.Symbolically, he was.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Don't believe in time travel? Think it's just a wild conspiracy theory reserved for late night alien radio programs? Well, we have unearthed bombshell evidence that will blow you away and have you questioning everything!

A 120-year-old photo PROVES climate change activist teen Greta Thunberg is actually a time traveler warning all generations of the dangers of global warming.

Glenn did some exhaustive research and found several other photos and subjects in historical paintings. Check them out here and see if you are now a believer:

Warning Elvis fans

Ryan: Suction energy, pt. 1

Photo by Sean Ryan

After his speech at the Boone County fairgrounds, Joe Biden nodded and people engulfed him like he was their oxygen. Journalists shouted questions, photographers shoved people aside. Biden's bodyguards even drew closer. I found a good oak tree and hid out in the shade, 100 yards from the chaotic huddle.

Photo by Sean Ryan

They shoved closer and closer and closer, with a vacant urgency to their eyes. They had to get as close as possible. It was like some force of nature had taken control of everyone, and now their only goal was to merge their lifeforce with Biden's.

The frenzy of writhing arms and contorted bodies reminded me of Shark Week, when the hulking Great White breaks through the protective cage and how's the diver gonna make it out alive this time?

*

A need for convergence, often leading to upheaval.

Most of the Democratic candidates caused this effect. As did their opponent, to a far greater degree. Because he was the president, and he was Donald Trump, so, for the time being, he embodied this magnetism more fully than anyone else in the entire world.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every time Trump entered a room or a building or a space of any kind, every person within a reasonable distance felt it. And they couldn't help but bob their head around, and arch up on their tiptoes, scouring till they saw him, and then all they could do was lean forward and wonder if it was actually him.

Some of the Democratic candidates had a stronger magnetism than others. Which meant the gravitational pull had laws that guided it. The term I started using for it was "suction energy."

It was something you could physically feel.

At the Iowa State Fair, Bernie Sanders' suction energy was so intense, so visceral that it reminded me of a hurricane.

Photo by Sean Ryan

People wanted to be as close to the man as possible. They wanted a picture. Proof that it happened—that they had actually seen someone that famous.

And they were perfectly right. And their reactions were understandable and lovely even, and altogether innocent. Encouraging. Because they were genuine.

Even journalists were susceptible to suction energy. In fact, they could spazz even harder. Unlike the public, they were there as workers.

*

Suction energy is an art, something you cultivate. But it's also a result of luck and reality. Some people will just never have an ounce of it.

Take, for instance, Jay Insleey, who was apparently a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election. At some point in my travels, I wound up in the same place as him.

Maybe it was a couple times. A couple, two, three. I can't remember.

All I know is that I went to Clear Lake, Iowa for the Democratic Wing Ding, to see Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren and the 20 other candidates, and this guy Jay Insless ... sorry, I mean Inslee took the stage at some point. It's hard to say when exactly because, as I mentioned, he was impressively forgettable, like a human thumbtack.

Wing Ding featured Jay Insee?Photo by Sean Ryan

He was yammering about something, and, man, he looked and sounded like P.C. Principal, from South Park, and that was pretty funny.

I told my dad, and then we were both laughing. Then my dad did an imitation of P.C. Principal, and we were really hooting.
Then all I could think about was P.C. Principal. So I ducked out into the hall to watch a P.C. Principal clip compilation, and I laughed and laughed and nobody went "Shush!," because there were plenty of others like me.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, boy, I laughed. I was actually a bit sad when the clip was over. I'd forgotten where I was, and when I caught a glimpse of the guy onstage, my sadness deepened into pity. The feeling you get when you realize that the amateur thinks he can beat the professional. When the replacements think they will know valor. When your dog thinks they're going to the park, but really it's the vet, and they wake up without balls.

Do we have an obligation, a moral imperative, to tell a Square when she's trying to shove into a Triangle hole? How much teeth-lettuce does a person lodge into their incisors before you are inclined to alert them?

Like, after this speech, that guy John Insley, would wander around the walkways of the Surf Ballroom, same as Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang, only he'd lack their glow.

Crowds flocking to Kamala HarrisPhoto by Sean Ryan

At one point, he'd clench his jaw into what must have been a smile, ready for any nearby journalists to sneak a candid photo or rush forward for a quote.

Photo by Sean Ryan

If any of the others noticed, they didn't let on. So here was this chubby kid in a costume knocking on the front door, and I know full well Halloween was weeks ago, but who's gonna feed the harmless lie if I don't?

Photo by Sean Ryan

Nobody, that's who.

So I groaned and shrugged and told my dad, "Let's give the tubby kid some Starburst."

"Wha?" he asked.

Then I asked would he get a picture of that candidate over there.

"Who," he replied. As in, "I can't see an important person over there, which one is running for president?"

In other words, Insleep had absolutely zero suction energy. To a near-magical extent.

Within a few weeks, he would announce the end of his campaign on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Yet there he was, somehow center stage, looking out at the packed Surf Ballroom, where, on February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly played his last show.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Buddy Holly, now there's a man with suction energy. So much suction energy that, when he died, music went with him.

*

When I saw Kamala during the week of the Iowa State Fair, she was at the height of her campaign, having climbed to second place, within nine points of Biden.

Everywhere I went, there was Harris, with her personalized KAMALA bus, and her chartered press pool, and her entourage of staff and fans and media.

Photo by Sean Ryan

On the first Saturday of the Fair, my dad and I wound up seeing Harris five times. Five times! In part because she could hustle. She wanted that job. But also because she understood power and optics.

Before her speech at Jasper Winery, (when she played savage 4D chess with Andrew Yang, she spoke to several hundred people packed into the atrium of Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, her fourth rally of that day.

Photo by Sean Ryan

When she finished her speech, a horde surged straight for her, eighty or so.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Just a month earlier, The New Yorker had run a glowing profile on Harris. That was huge. As of the release of this story, Harris was the only 2020 presidential candidate that The New Yorker had featured.

Photo by Sean Ryan

At that point of the election, excitement for Harris was so intense that it seemed obvious she would get the nomination, or close to it. So I wrote five pieces about her.

But by the time I finished all five stories and added them to the publishing schedule, Harris had sunk 11 points to 4 percent, which put her in 8th place. In New Hampshire, the first state to hold primaries, she was polling at 1 percent. By comparison, Biden, Warren, and Sanders were locked at 19.

Now, the only headlines were about her foundering campaign and her dwindling cash and her downsized staff. In each case, the sentiment was the same, "Whatever happened to Kamala Harris?"

Which answer a question I posed in my first story. Would Harris "I got this one in the bag" attitude help her or ruin her? Turns out the ostentatious bus and the unnecessary press accommodations had been a premature move, and now she just seemed cocky.
Because suction energy can, and often does, vanish in an instant.

A Bernie can always become a Jay InslepInslee. Nobody is immune, no matter how powerful they appear. Look at Bill Cosby. Harvey Weistein. Both were godlike in their power. Both had a gravitational pull so intense that they raped women for decades and nobody did a thing. Cosby's suction energy was so intense that he collected honorary degrees like a vacuum collects dog hair. 70 of them. Then, off to prison to eat pudding in the dark.

By the time I saw Harris at the Democratic Debate in Houston, a month after she stormed Iowa, she'd begun transforming into Joe Biden, focused on all the wrong things, laughing at her own jokes, without realizing that nobody else was laughing.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com