Thomas Jefferson on Healthcare, Big Government, Marriage and Christianity

Several years ago, author and historian David Barton published a book about Thomas Jefferson. For four weeks it remained on the New York Times bestseller list before being pulled by the publisher. Why? Progressive liberals who didn't want the truth revealed about Thomas Jefferson complained heartily, scaring the publisher into thinking the book was full of nonsense.

Encouraged by Glenn to address every issue raised by those skeptics, David Barton has returned with The Jefferson Lies, an historically accurate account supported by original documents. This compelling and fact-based new book gives an account of Jefferson's beliefs on a variety of issues---including healthcare, big government, marriage and Christianity.

"I went through and listed 15 specific things Democrats are doing right now that Jefferson would go through the roof over," David Barton said Tuesday on The Glenn Beck Program. "Not the least of which Jefferson had very clear opinions on healthcare and who should and shouldn't do healthcare. And the federal government was not to do it. It was to be in the states."

Jefferson's stance on the separation of church and state is also widely misused by liberals to undermine faith in public schools. Some even use it to mischaracterize Jefferson as an atheist. But his views on faith were clear:

No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion, nor can it be. The Christian religion is the best religion that's been given to man, and I, as chief magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.

Glenn praised Barton's new book, calling it a must-read for every American.

"The book is about Thomas Jefferson. And the book is called The Jefferson Lies. Everything the left has said about Thomas Jefferson that is an out-and-out distortion and lie, backed up with the facts," Glenn said.

David Barton will discuss The Jefferson Lies with Glenn tonight on TheBlaze TV at 5:00 ET.

Listen to a complimentary segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: I want to tell you a story about how truth in America gets squashed. And somebody who comes up off the rope and says, "Oh, really?" There was a book that came out about, three years ago. And some -- some liberal wannabe geniuses got together and decided that they had a way to get this book off the New York Times list and to get the book pulled off the shelves in America.

Believe it or not, pulled -- a New York Times best-seller, pulled from the shelves. Why? Because these liberal professors got together and scared the publisher and said, "This is -- these are all -- this just isn't even true." And they scared enough people to where it was pulled off the shelves.

I happen to know the author. And I happen to know the research the author does. And I called the author while this was going on, and I said, "What the hell is happening?" And he explained it to me.

And I said, "But I know you well enough to know and I know you have the actual documents to prove this and back this up."

He said, "Yes."

I said, "You know what you should do? You should take all of their concerns, all the things they said and you should add them to this book. And you should use the original documents that shut them down and then republish."

That's exactly what this author has done, and it is even stronger than it was before. And the reason why they wanted it pulled in the first place is not because the facts aren't right, is because this gentleman that he's talking about in this book is revolutionary. This book is about, if you don't take this guy down, you can't destroy America.

The book is about Thomas Jefferson. And the book is called The Jefferson Lies. Everything the left has said about Thomas Jefferson that is an out-and-out distortion and lie, backed up with the facts. The author is David Barton. And he's with us now. Hi, David.

DAVID: Hey, Glenn.

GLENN: I can't tell you how happy I am that you've published and put this out. Do you want to get into at all what happened before and what --

DAVID: I'll go where you want to. But I want to pile on what you said. Because people have to get rid of Jefferson on the left if this is going to work. And they've done such a good job that we've been hearing recently the calls for Jefferson to be taken off Mount Rushmore, for him to be taken off the nickel, for them to tear down the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. The Democrats are saying, "No more Jefferson/Jackson HEP dinners. Jefferson has nothing to do with who we are."

GLENN: Andrew Jackson does.

DAVID: Andrew Jackson, that's a good guy to get rid of.

GLENN: Yeah, he's a good guy -- yeah, I would be for getting rid of Jackson.

DAVID: Absolutely.

GLENN: They will stand around and love Jackson, who was a horrible guy. But you got to torch Jefferson.

DAVID: Yep. You got to torch Jefferson. And, man, his ideas are so opposite to where they are today and where most folks in government are.

GLENN: When I was growing up. It was the Jefferson dinner. The Jefferson/Jackson dinner for the Democrats. And the Lincoln dinner. And they have now -- we still embrace Lincoln. But they are divorcing themselves from Jefferson. Let's go through some of the policies that you say are exactly the opposite, based on facts.

DAVID: Well, I went through and listed 15 specific things Democrats are doing right now that Jefferson would go through the roof over. Not the least of which Jefferson had very clear opinions on health care and who should and shouldn't do health care. And the federal government was not to do it. It was to be in the states. He has very clear --

GLENN: Wait. Wait. Give me some examples on that, David.

DAVID: Let me read you a quote from Jefferson.

GLENN: Because you don't think of health care as something they even debated back then, but they debated abortion back then.

DAVID: That's right. All of these issues. Nothing new. Jefferson says -- here's what he said between the role of federal and state governments on health care. He said, the federal government is to certify with exact truth for every vessel sailing from a foreign port the state of health which prevails at the place from which she sails.

So if you're coming from overseas, you have to be healthy to come to America. But the state authorities are charged with the care of the public health. So health goes to the state level. It's not a federal thing. It's not one of the 15 enumerated powers. It goes to the states. So there's a role for the feds, only with the borders. Once it's inside the borders, everything inside the borders for health care belongs the states.

GLENN: Okay. Give me the next.

DAVID: Let's take -- debt. How about debt? That's a real easy one.

You know, it's -- so many things here to deal with. But let me take debt. Or even federal growth. Listen to this. Federal growth.

I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary. There are too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. The multiplication of government offices, the increase of expense beyond income, the growth of the public debt, these are all indications that we need a pruning knife in government. Small government.

GLENN: You say that he also is dead-set against what the Democrats are doing with the LGBT.

DAVID: Right. LGBT, he came out very clearly, and he said, the law of nature. Creator. Bible. And by the way, he actually introduced a bill that said that laws should be those that are recognized by the Bible. Marriage should be based on biblical recognition. So he said marriage has to be defined by what the Bible defines it as. That's the law that he introduced.

He also said that sexual relations were designed for procreation, not for entertainment. And, therefore, in that basis, that's how you define marriage, is procreation. So sexual relations was designed by the creator, throughout a law of nature for procreation. Anything that violates that, violates the laws of nature.

And he came up also on the issue of marriage and he said, "Taking from the states the moral rule of their citizens and interrogate to the federal government would break up the foundations of the union." You love it at the states, not the feds.

GLENN: Let's go to gun control.

DAVID: Gun control. He has that going tonight in the State of the Union.

GLENN: State of the Union.

DAVID: So let me just take the gun control. Here's what he told youth, young people. See if we get this from a Democrat.

A strong body makes a strong mind. As to the best species of exercise, I advise the gun. It gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.

GLENN: Holy cow.

(laughter)

DAVID: That's for young people.

PAT: I think Barack Obama said that, what, three times last night.

DAVID: Yeah.

GLENN: So this is not necessarily what the book is about. The book is about the lies. Let's start with -- chapter number one is about Sally Hemings.

DAVID: Right.

PAT: That's the agonizing one.

GLENN: The number one thing people use to discredit, well, he had children with a slave.

PAT: Yeah.

DAVID: Back in November of 1998, that came out in the middle of the Clinton impeachments. And I was talking to a group of law students the other day at a law school. I said, how many of you have heard that Sally Hemings -- HEP that Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings? 98 percent of them raised their hands.

And I thought, that's interesting because here we are now 20-some-odd years later still saying this thing. Why would we say it now? Why does it matter, except to trash Jefferson?

Here's the problem with that. 221 news outlets ran with that story when it came. Six weeks later, the story was retracted. Only 11 news outlets carried the retraction. Now, why would they retract the story?

We actually called and talked to the DNA researcher who did it, Dr. Eugene Foster, talked to him twice. And he said, "Actually that's not what I showed them in my research. That's not what my research said." But the guy who did it, Joseph Ellis, was a defender of Clinton. Had just helped run a full-page ad in the New York Times defending Clinton from impeachment and said, this would really help him. Because if we can say Jefferson had a sexual tryst, then we can say what's the big deal with Clinton. So he comes out and he says --

GLENN: Unbelievable.

DAVID: You know, you would think that if -- if you want to check DNA, you would want to check Jefferson's DNA. They never checked Thomas Jefferson's DNA. They checked his uncle's DNA. Field Jefferson. There were 26 Jefferson males living at the time. They never checked Thomas Jefferson's. And that's why the researcher said, I told them it wasn't Thomas Jefferson's.

GLENN: No. Told them that it wasn't for sure Thomas Jefferson's, right? It's one in like --

PAT: One in 26.

DAVID: One in 26. What they can do -- to test DNA generations later, you have to test the white chromosome which remains the same in male descendants. So you have to have a male descendant. Thomas Jefferson had a son who died when he was one. He has no male descendents. There's no way of testing his DNA. They say, "Well, the Jefferson family, all the Jeffersons in the United States maybe." So they take an uncle of Jefferson, Field Jefferson is his name, they tested him and it was all based on the first child of Sally Hemings. I actually have the newspaper over there. 200 years ago, a guy named James D. Calendar wrote an article that said, Jefferson fathered Tom through Sally Hemings. And she called him Tom because his father was Thomas Jefferson.

And so for 200 years, that's what everybody said. Tom. Well, they tested the descendents of Thomas Woodson, and there's no Jefferson genes at all. Not any at all. Not Thomas'. Not Fields'. Not any of the 26. None.

GLENN: Wait. Wait. So the guy that they said was his son --

DAVID: And they've said it for 200 years.

GLENN: And the reason why they checked the DNA.

DAVID: Is because of this guy, Thomas.

GLENN: And they've checked his DNA, his descendants --

DAVID: His descendants. And there's zero.

PAT: So he's not even one of 26.

GLENN: So where did we get the one in 26?

DAVID: Well, Sally had five children, and the fourth child is shown to have some Jefferson genes. So it could be one of the 26.

Now, historically they have always said it was Thomas Jefferson's brother Randall HEP because he lived there at HEP Monte Chello. That's what everybody still says, is there was none in what was believed to be Thomas', but Randall HEP was believed to have an affair with Sally Hemings. And there is some Jefferson DNA in that fourth child, Eston HEP Hemings. So there's absolutely nothing that points to Jefferson.

By the way, after this was done and all this scandal broke and they recalled it and nobody talked about the recall, you know, they pulled the story, they got a whole bunch of research together. All these Ph.D. guys from Harvard and Kentucky University and Indiana. And they were guys that got together and said, we think Jefferson did it. And they looked at all the historical research and unanimously came back and said, we don't think Jefferson did it. Once you look at all the history, Jefferson didn't do it. That didn't make the news either. So it really has not helped the political agenda to exonerate Jefferson from 200-year-old charges that have been out there. But that's what the evidence has been. That's a lie about Jefferson.

GLENN: What was the case when the book was pulled that they said, "Well, you didn't address this -- how did you strengthen this case even more, David?

DAVID: Well, what we did -- it's interesting that when this thing was done. Thomas Nelson had the book, and they never even talked to me about it. They just pulled the book and never even told me they pulled it. I told them ahead of time, here are the professors that are going to come after you. Because these guys on the left have been doing this for a while. Here's two cases of research documents to show you everything that I say is documented historically. And when they come after you, you'll know it. Well, they never did anything. Came after them, they pulled the book.

GLENN: Cowards.

DAVID: So in this particular book, we never had to do anything to that particular lie because the academics didn't even touch it. They left it alone. They went after all the other things we said. So the seven lies we pulled out, even the academics were scared to touch that one because it's too well-documented. They'd much rather have people think that Jefferson is morally impugned than to have him exonerated. So they never even went after that lie.

GLENN: So let's take separation of church and state. Because this is so well-documented.

DAVID: Yeah.

GLENN: So well-documented. And we always go to, name the document.

DAVID: Yeah.

GLENN: But beyond that, in his letters and the things that you outline in the book, it is crystal clear, crystal clear that's not what -- it's not what he meant the way they're using it today.

DAVID: Well, see, they use it today as saying Jefferson is a secularist. A lot of writers say he's an atheist. And so they derive that because he wanted separation of church and state. Well, let's define it the way he did. And let's also look at his actions. So when you looked at the way he defined it, he did not want a state-established government church that was telling you what denomination to belong to. And that's what he made really clear. This is a denominational issue. We don't want what we had in England. Because in his state of Virginia, the Anglican church was the state-established church, and they literally persecuted the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists. Threw them in jail. Killed them. Fined them. Whatever. He didn't like that. Was he a secularist? No. Not by a long shot.

The thing I love to point to is that when he gets -- he helps build the US capitol -- as Secretary of State under Jefferson -- under George Washington. 1795 is their building. They start having church services on the grounds of the US capitol every Sunday.

Then when he becomes vice president under John Adams, as vice president, they vote and they say, we want the largest building in the capitol, the brand-new building to be a church building. So Jefferson not only helps to enact that. He starts going to church there every Sunday. And as president for eight years, he goes to church there every Sunday. And I love the quote, let me just read you a quote that -- because somebody said, "Why do you go to the church at the capitol? Why is it that you're so faithful there?" And even his political opponents that were in the other party, talked about how that he never missed a church service at the capitol, even if it was raining, sleeting, snowing, whatever. He jumped on his horse and made it there. And asking him, "Why is it that you do this?" Here's his response.

I want to read the exact quote. Sorry here, guys.

GLENN: It's all right.

DAVID: Here's what he says. This is what he told the guy.

They were walking to the capitol church together. He says, no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion, nor can it be. The Christian religion is the best religion that's been given to man, and I, as chief magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.

There's no way I'm going to miss church. I have an example to show to the nation, and I'm going to make sure we have church here at the capitol. He starts church in the War Department and the Treasury Department every Sunday. So if you want to go to church in D.C., you can take the Capitol Building or the War Department or the Treasury Department.

GLENN: Jeez.

DAVID: While he's president of the United States, he sets aside on three occasions property so that it can be used to propagate the Gospel among Indians. Federal property. He approves -- I have it over here in the folder. The actual treaty with the Gascasi HEP Indians where he sends money so they can have priests, and he builds them a church in which they can worship. He directs the Secretary of War to give federal money to a religious school in Tennessee. He told a Christian school in Louisiana that it would enjoy the patronage of the government. I'm just going through the list of stuff he did.

GLENN: Jeez. At 5 o'clock today on the TV show, David is going to join me. He has all the documents.

DAVID: I have the documents.

GLENN: So he will show you. It's always great to watch David. He has the documents. How do you argue --

PAT: You can't.

GLENN: And he'll just take out the documents tonight, and he'll show them all to you. And you don't want to miss it. That's tonight, 5 o'clock. Only on TheBlaze TV. Back in just a second.

Featured Image: Screenshot from The Glenn Beck Program

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