UPDATED: What's it like to create a music album with Glenn Beck?

Miss Part 1 of Believe AgainWatch it ON DEMAND and then tune in for Part 2 Wednesday at 8pm ET!

On Tuesday, TheBlaze debuted the first installment of a two-part musical special called Believe Again.  A few months ago, Glenn asked several musical artists of different faiths to come together to record a full Christmas album over the course of four days.

Mark Mabry, a member of Glenn’s American Dream Labs team in Dallas, headed up the project and sat down with GlennBeck.com for a quick interview during the editing process.

GlennBeck.com: So, what was it like when Glenn first downloaded the idea for Believe Again?

Mark: Glenn, (composer) Clyde Bawden, and I sat together in, I think it was May, Glenn’s office. We were eating cookies and talking about doing a few Christmas songs, when the album idea was born. Glenn mentioned Andy Williams and a lot of other ideas. The concept kind of snowballed, Clyde went to work on some fantastic arrangements, including Go Tell it on the Mountain, Oh Come all Ye Faithful, and some others. He also made a fantastic version of What Child is This that we’re saving.

Anyway, we ate all of the cookies, then found a sharpie and wrote our plan - which, by the way, totally got turned on it’s head when we found out that none of the songs were in the public domain – on the back of a paper plate! 

Glennbeck.com: So what was your role in the production of the album?

Mark: Officially, I was the producer of the TV show and co-producer of the album. Glenn, Jason, Clyde, and I were all equally nuts enough to think you could jam 9 strangers into a room and make an album from scratch in 4 days. So whatever you call that job, I was 25% of that.

LJ Herman was also a big part of coordinating the idea around the offices, and then he helped get the album into the music world. Unsung hero.

Everybody on the album arranged, composed, performed, etc. It’s tough to pin down “roles” for this kind of project.

GlennBeck.com: What are some of your favorite stories from the recording process?

Mark: There was so much good stuff, more than we could possibly include in the album. There was Jason, Clyde, and I late at night wondering if we had gone off the cliff and what Glenn would say when he saw the stuff.  It was the energy of seeing the moment of creation of these songs.  I grew more in awe of my long time collaborators Jason Barney and Clyde Bawden. It was tough to relate in the show how much I love and respect them.

 

 

GlennBeck.com: It’s well known around the office that what we affectionately call “Glenn Ideas” usually have a pretty nontraditional creative process. Can you go more into what those late night conversations were like and how the three of you worked to execute Glenn’s vision?

Mark: We took some liberties with traditional Christmas songs that we knew might ruffle a few feathers. Glenn is a creative enough guy to understand and appreciate just about every style of music that is well performed, so we weren't super worried about his acceptance. I've been with him jamming to Muse, Sinatra, and classic rock. But, we have a  conservative audience and that extends beyond political conservatism in a lot of cases into traditionalism on a lot of fronts. Putting an electric guitar on Angels We Have Heard on High is not a traditional Christmas music choice.

But here is what makes me comfortable with it - Our musicians are not a bunch of Godless rockers locking to capitalize on a commercial holiday. They are worship leaders, churchgoers, and God fearing people. The last thing they would do is offend the spirit of Christmas.

When they sang Angels We Have Heard On High it was in a spirit of praise and happiness. They felt that the louder they did it, the more right it felt. If people understood the composers of that version, Cody Carnes and David Osmond, they would understand the spirit of the song. That song should rock chapels all over the country.

GlennBeck.com: And Glenn’s been a big part of the behind-the-scenes too, right?

Mark: It’s tough to explain to people just how good Glenn’s ear is. He could pick out audio issues with precision and also had a great handle on what would hit when released. People forget that he was a music guy for decades.

GlennBeck.com: What was the biggest challenge with putting the album together?

Mark: Time was our challenge. Being so close to it that there was no time for evaluation. We had to produce on the fly, dropping all egos and trusting each other to say if something wasn’t right. That made our greatest challenge also our greatest strength. It was a speed of trust thing.

Also, we have kind of made a big deal about the artists all being from different branches of Christianity. That’s isn’t just part of marketing the special, but it was an internal issue early on because some people we reached out to declined to participate. But to these guys, our guys, it was a non-issue. They were all smart enough to recognize their theology differences, but they were also smart enough to realize that those differences should not define us.

GlennBeck.com: So how did you pick these musical artists?

Mark: Glenn, Clyde, Jason, and I chose them. Since time was compressed we only had time for phone calls and YouTube videos. Generally speaking, they were all in the first wave of people we wanted on the show. We realized that we wanted another girl on the album and it was tough to put our finger on exactly what sound. Cody recommended Dianne Michelle, whom he knew, we watched her on Youtube and fell in love.

GlennBeck.com: What are your favorite songs on the album? Why?

Mark: It’s changed a bunch of times. I love Angels We Have Heard On High and Deck the Halls for when I want to put on a red Christmas sweater and boogie.

But not too long after Oh Come all Ye Faithful was done my family was having a rough time with something and that song was playing in the kitchen. It ended up with everybody embracing in tears during that song. That’ll always be a favorite. I love where the choir hits on Go Tell it on the Mountain as well. Kim turned them into a pretty good gospel choir for that song.

GlennBeck.com: Mark, thank you for taking a few minutes to talk with us. We know you have to go get the special finished before air time. 

 

 

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?