‘Before You Wake’: Erick Erickson Shares the Story Behind His New Book

What is it like to fear that you and your spouse will both die and leave your kids?

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson and his wife recently faced devastating health crises at the same time, something Erickson has written about on The Resurgent.

“I have to tell you that American politics really does not matter when you have kids and are dying,” Erickson wrote earlier this month. “You begin to seriously ask yourself what you want your kids to know if you’re gone. My kids, were they to learn about me from Google, would really only know what people who hate me think about me.”

Late last year, Erickson wrote a piece styled as a letter to his young children titled “If I Should Die Before You Wake,” calling them to a life of purpose and joy. He has since expanded the project into 10 letters that became a book. “Before You Wake: Life Lessons from a Father to His Children” was released earlier this month.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: In the midst of twin medical crisis, the 2016 presidential campaign was in full swing. And I was a conservative who didn't support Donald Trump.

Protesters showed up at our home. People sent us hate mail. They called my office daily demanding that I would be fired. Everybody was convinced that I had destroyed my career. Our house had to be protected by guards. My two children were yelled at in the store by an angry man, who was angry at me for not supporting Donald Trump. At school, other kids made sure that they knew that their dad was not liked in their household.

Some of them wondered aloud if something bad was going to happen to us.

These are the words of Erick Erickson.

STU: Erick is, of course, radio host and commentator. And the book is called Before You Wake. And he joins us now.

GLENN: Erick, you're one of my heroes, brother. How are you?

ERICK: I'm well. Thanks for having me. Appreciate that.

GLENN: So, Erick, tell me -- first of all, for anyone else doesn't know, tell us about the twin health care crisis you were facing.

ERICK: Oh. So I just assumed it was the stress of last year, back in April, having protesters at the house and my kids yelled at, at the grocery store. And I was having a harder and harder time breathing. My chest was tight. Went into the hospital. And got wheeled into an ICU unit, not expected to make the night. My lungs had filled up with blood clots. Blood oxygen less than 90 percent dying. And, literally, as they're pushing me into a CT scan to scan my lungs, the doctors from the Mayo Clinic called my wife and told her, they think she might have a rare form of cancer. She needed to come out with a lung biopsy. And sure enough, she has a rare, incurable genetic form of lung cancer. And so we're going through all of that, as we're having protesters at our house. Armed guards protecting us. My kids coming home from school, crying with other kids, saying I'm going to get shot for not supporting the president. Their parents hating me. It was a -- 2016 was a rather miserable year in the Erickson household.

GLENN: So you started to write this book because you didn't die. And you wanted your kids to know the truth about you.

ERICK: Yeah, I did. And I really did think for a while, what happens -- if Christie and I, if something happens to us. I remember walking into the bedroom one night and told Christie, I just did not know that I would survive the week. And she just burst out crying that she had made a deal with God, one of us had to survive for the kids.

And I thought I need to actually sit down and write to my kids. What do I want you to know about your family, about God, about faith, and what are your favorite recipes, in case something happened to your parents? How would you make the cinnamon rolls I make for you? And it all wound up being a book that's prat book and part life lessons and part biography.

You know, I'm mindful, if my kids were to Google me tomorrow -- there's a joke in our kid's school, that I'm the one parent they're not allowed to use as an example for Google. Because God knows what they'll find on me. I want my kids to know the true things, the bad things I've done, the good things I've done, and why I want them to believe in God, so on the other side of eternity, we'll see each other again.

STU: Erick, what did going through all this teach you about prioritization?

ERICK: Oh, you know, my life involves politics, on radio, on the Resurgent. On TV. And I want my kids to understand that I think it is far more important for them to have a relationship with their next-door neighbor. Whether they agree politically or not, than to be online yelling people about the politics of the day. There's so much more to like than politics.

GLENN: You -- you actually -- you actually wrote something. I'm trying to find it here. I read it this morning again, about how you just -- the social media thing is just -- you feel is a real problem.

ERICK: Yeah. You know, I think Twitter, in particular, brings the worst out in all of us. Myself included.

You know, there's that scene in the Bible where Jesus -- I'm actually in seminary right now. We studied this two weeks ago, where the possessed man comes to Jesus. And he says to the demon possessing, what is your name? And the demon says, Legion.

And Christ throws the Legion into the swarm of pigs, which runs down the bank and drowns in the lake. And I think what the Bible leaves off after that, is that after the pigs have drowned and the demons get out of the bigs, they all got Twitter accounts. And you see that so much online. I mean, it brings out the worst in all of us. And I swear hell's army is on Twitter.

And I want my kids to get their sense of self-worth by being ethical people created in the image of God, not because they got a bunch of retweets or likes on Instagram or Facebook.

GLENN: I want to quote a couple of things. I always try to forgive. As I've gotten older and dumber, I've come to realize how much more I need forgiveness and how often people refuse to forgive.

First of all, give me that.

ERICK: Well, you know, there's a lot less grease in the world today. And I've done dumb things in my life. Things I regret. And I find ten years later, people still want to throw them in my face of, you're no moral authority on this because look at what you did ten years ago.

And I -- I can't tell someone to get over that, but I can get over it myself with other people. I can show forgiveness to other people who have done good and not still define them by the bad things they've done.

I think more and more in this world, people want to define you by the worst thing you did, no matter how long ago it is. And if we do that to each other, we have no incentive to improve as people, because we'll always be defined by that.

GLENN: So, Erick, I was up in Nantucket, in a conference, at a summit. And I was --

STU: Popular? Is that the word you were looking for?

GLENN: I was pretty popular up there.

ERICK: That's one for Nantucket.

GLENN: Yeah. And so I was up there for three days. And it had been a horrible, horrible experience. And there were other things that happened in my life at the time that just -- I mean, it broke me. It broke me in half. That weekend was just a really hard weekend for me.

And I had to speak on Sunday. A second time to this crowd.

And I've never -- I got up in the morning, and I was -- it was -- I was in the bathroom. In front of the mirror. And I was on my knees, when my wife came in.

And she said, honey, what's wrong?

And I said, mercy. I don't believe there's mercy anymore. And I've never understood the plea for mercy more than I do right now.

It's -- it's a remarkable gift that I think Facebook and Twitter -- you're exactly right, will never allow you to move forward.

ERICK: Yeah. I think that's true. And I think that's why we have an obligation to do it. And, you know, I -- I decided a couple years ago. I kept getting asked to give Sunday sermons in small churches around Georgia. I talk about culture and faith on my radio show. And decided I probably ought to go to seminary, which was the greatest thing I did. Although, the moment I went, I stopped getting the invitations to preach, when I found out where I was going, to seminary. But I love it.

And we spend a lot of time on this topic. And one of the things that's made me appreciate it is that, our ways aren't their ways. And we need to be a light in the world. And whether you're a person of faith or a conservative, however you view yourself, you need to be a light in the world. And you start by showing grace and extending mercy to people who don't do it to you. And show that your way actually is a way forward. And I -- I don't know that there's enough of that. And I fear that as conservatives who look more and more towards political solutions to spiritual problems, that they're going to be to become more tribal as well and not show grace and mercy the other way. And those of us who do, I think, stand out more and more. And that's not a prideful thing. It's a humble thing, knowing that you've got to be willing to extend the hand to people who don't want to extend the hand to you. But you still got to make yourself do it.

GLENN: It's amazing. It's almost -- if I ask a crowd of Christians how many believe in the gospel of Christ. They'll all raise their hand.

ERICK: Uh-huh.

GLENN: If I say, will you really follow it, they'll all raise their hand. But even Peter denied Jesus three times. Even Peter.

Worse. You know, Judas sold him out.

ERICK: Right.

GLENN: I'm not sure how many of us are even at Peter's level because it's not that hard to offer mercy and forgiveness to people who are saying and doing horrible things to you or to your country or whatever. And trying to have compassion and forgiveness -- and empathy for them.

And yet so many Christians see that as a sign of weakness.

ERICK: Well, you know, one of the things I wrote in the book for my kids. And I hope one day they will read this. Is that my wife has a very hard time with grudges. And she will admit it. And I have told her, as I wrote in the book, that if you can't forgive someone, you are saying that your conscience was pricked more than Jesus', who having been beaten, tortured, bloodied, and nailed to a cross, on a cross, before he died, said, "Forgive them." If you can't forgive someone for slighting you after what they did to him and he said forgive them, you're saying you were -- you were abused more than he was on the cross.

GLENN: She must love that when you say that to her.

ERICK: Oh, yeah. Well, let me tell you, it puts me in the doghouse. But sometimes you got to make your wife feel guilty. Because she's making me feel guilty every day. I mean, she guilted me into buying her a Harley. She said, I've got cancer. You have to buy me a motorcycle. So I had to.

STU: Erick, God forbid something does happen to you. You know your kids will obviously read this book. But if everything goes okay, at what point do you become angry at them for not reading it while you're alive? What is the age?

ERICK: Maybe when they're in their 20s. My 12-year-old has tried twice. And she can't get past the introduction.

STU: Okay. That's a good line. At least they know where their line is to be a good kid.

GLENN: So, Erick, I've been concentrating lately on what matters most in my own life. And I think we can all get to this point to where you say, this is garbage. I mean, what I'm doing maybe is garbage. What I'm thinking is garbage. What I'm pursuing is garbage. Whatever. And you start to look and say, "What matters most?"

ERICK: Yes.

GLENN: You're in a political position. What matters most?

ERICK: I always fall back on the first question in the shared catacysm of the Catholic and Protestant. What's the chief end of man? To glorify God or enjoy him forever? And it doesn't matter what I do in life. As long as I think I'm glorifying God, then it's okay. And I'm in politics. And I spend a lot of time trying now to write about conforming my politics to my faith instead of my faith to my politics. And it's made it much more difficult in life to have that realization, I have to do that. But I think as long as I'm doing that, I'm okay. And people might hate me. They may stop listening to me or stop reading me. But I think I'm in the right place.

GLENN: How has that manifested itself with you?

ERICK: It makes me much more difficult for me to find the easy solution. Whether it's on immigration or crime or anything else. There's lots of easy solutions when you abandon your faith. And when you have your faith, there's a more difficult balancing act. But I'm also challenged by that. And I like that challenge of doing it every day. And honestly, I sleep well at night. And there is an art to sleeping well at night. And part of it is understanding there are real priorities, and policies isn't one of them.

GLENN: Erick Erickson, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

ERICK: Thank you.

(music)

STU: Erick Erickson. Of course, he started the Resurgent, the website. You definitely should be reading, as well as Before You Wake: Life Lessons From a Father to His Children is the new book. We'll tweet that out, @worldofStu. And @GlennBeck.

Stop trying to be right and think of the children

Mario Tama/Getty Images

All the outrage this week has mainly focused on one thing: the evil Trump administration and its minions who delight in taking children from their illegal immigrant parents and throwing them all in dungeons. Separate dungeons, mind you.

That makes for a nice, easy storyline, but the reality is less convenient. Most Americans seem to agree that separating children from their parents — even if their parents entered the US illegally — is a bad thing. But what if that mom and dad you're trying to keep the kids with aren't really the kids' parents? Believe it or not, fraud happens.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

While there are plenty of heartbreaking stories of parents simply seeking a chance for a better life for their children in the US, there are also corrupt, abusive human traffickers who profit from the illegal immigration trade. And sorting all of this out is no easy task.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security said that since October 2017, more than 300 children have arrived at the border with adults claiming to be their parents who turned out not to be relatives. 90 of these fraud cases came from the Rio Grande Valley sector alone.

In 2017, DHS reported 46 causes of fraudulent family claims. But there have already been 191 fraud cases in 2018.

Shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pointed out this 315 percent increase, the New York Times was quick to give these family fraud cases "context" by noting they make up less than one percent of the total number of illegal immigrant families apprehended at the southern border. Their implication was that Nielsen was exaggerating the numbers. Even if the number of fraud cases at the border was only 0.001 percent, shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

This is the most infuriating part of this whole conversation this week (if you can call it a "conversation") — that both sides have an angle to defend. And while everyone's busy yelling and making their case, children are being abused.

What if we just tried, for two seconds, to love having mercy more than we love having to be right all the time?

Remember when cartoons were happy things? Each panel took you on a tiny journey, carrying you to an unexplored place. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes:

The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen. The visible and the invisible. This dance is unique to comics. No other artform gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well. This is why I think it's a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction. What happens between . . . panels is a kind of magic only comics can create.

When that magic is manipulated or politicized, it often devolves the artform into a baseless thing. Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published the perfect example of low-brow deviation of the artform: A six-panel approach at satire, which imitates the instructions-panel found in the netted cubbyhole behind seats on airplanes. The cartoon is a critique of the recent news about immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border. It is a step-by-step guide to murdering US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.

RELATED: Cultural appropriation has jumped the shark, and everyone is noticing

The first panel shows a man shoving an infant into a cage meant for Pomeranians. The following five panels feature instructions, and include pictures of a cartoonish murder.

The panels read as follows:

  1. If an ICE agent tries to take your child at the border, don't panic.
  2. Pull your child away as quickly as possibly by force.
  3. Gently tell your child to close his/her eyes and ears so they won't witness what you are about to do.
  4. Grab the ICE agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust, causing the agent's sternum to break.
  5. Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
  6. Hold his bloody heart out for all other agents to see, and tell them that the same fate awaits them if they f--- with your child again.

Violent comics are nothing new. But most of the time, they remain in the realms of invented worlds — in other words, not in our own, with reference to actual people, let alone federal agents.

The mainstream media made a game of crying racism with every cartoon depiction of Obama during his presidency, as well as during his tenure as Senator, when the New Yorker, of all things, faced scrutiny for depicting him in "Muslim clothing." Life was a minefield for political cartoonists during the Obama era.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This year, we saw the leftist outrage regarding The Simpsons character Apu — a cartoon representation of a highly-respected, though cartoonishly-depicted, character on a cartoon show composed of cartoonishly-depicted characters.

We all remember Charlie Hebdo, which, like many outlets that have used cartoon satire to criticize Islam, faced the wrath and ire of people unable to see even the tamest representation of the prophet, Muhammad.

Interesting, isn't it? Occupy Wall Street publishes a cartoon that advocates murdering federal agents, and critics are told to lighten up. Meanwhile, the merest depiction of Muhammad has resulted in riots throughout the world, murder and terror on an unprecedented scale.

The intersection of Islam and comics is complex enough to have its own three-hour show, so we'll leave it at that, for now. Although, it is worth mentioning the commentary by satirical website The Onion, which featured a highly offensive cartoon of all the major religious figures except Muhammad. It noted:

Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is free to publish any cartoon they like. Freedom of speech, and so on—although there have been several instances in which violent cartoons were ruled to have violated the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" limitation of the First Amendment.

Posting it to Twitter is another issue — this is surely in violation of Twitter's violent content policy, but something tells me nothing will come of it. It's a funny world, isn't it? A screenshot of a receipt from Chick-fil-A causes outrage but a cartoon advocating murder gets crickets.

RELATED: Twitter mob goes ballistic over Father's Day photo of Caitlyn Jenner. Who cares?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud concludes that, "Today the possibilities for comics are — as they've always been — endless. Comics offers . . . range and versatility, with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word. And all that's needed is the desire to be heard, the will to learn, and the ability to see."

Smile, and keep moving forward.

Crude and awful as the Occupy Wall Street comic is, the best thing we can do is nod and look elsewhere for the art that will open our eyes. Let the lunatics draw what they want, let them stew in their own flawed double standards. Otherwise, we're as shallow and empty as they are, and nothing good comes of that. Smile, and keep moving forward.

Things are getting better. Show the world how to hear, how to learn, how to see.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.

Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

RELATED: If Bruce was never a he and always a she, who won the men's Olympic gold in 1976?

Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?