Top Glenn of 2010!

Below is a recap from the daily email newsletter special, Top Glenn of 2010! Be sure to sign up for the FREE email newsletter to get more exclusive articles and stories from Glenn!


 

 

December 30, 2010

#1 The Miracle on the Mall

 

The biggest moment of Glenn in 2010, and probably his whole broadcast career, was undoubtedly the “Restoring Honor” Rally on 8/28. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC Glenn addressed hundreds of thousands of people (sorry CBS), and gave them an inspirational message about faith, hope, and charity. There were numerous guest stars at the event, including baseball superstar Albert Pujols and Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Sarah Palin delivered a message in support of the troops. And at the end of it all, Glenn unveiled a new Black Robe Regiment, a group of spiritual leaders who would go back to their communities and carry the message of 8/28.

Of course, the event didn’t just end when people left the mall. The MSM couldn’t stop debating everything from the crowd size to the message. Other groups and media figures tried and failed to recapture the same spirit and energy that was there on 8/28, and in the end only the people that were there and took part in the shared experience that day will truly understand what it meant. Read about the weekend HERE.

The Spirit of 8.28

  

For months, Glenn poured his efforts into a non-profit cause, auctioning off anything he could think of. The goal for Glenn was to give as much as possible to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation on August 28th at the “Restoring Honor” Rally. During a broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program, Glenn recounted a story that he felt embodied the virtue of charity, a recurring theme on his TV and radio programs over the 2010 year.

On his way back from a fundraising dinner, Glenn was reviewing the recent donations he had received, focusing on some of the big donors. Glenn said, “What else did we get? And [a staff member] said, well, we also got a letter in and the person said, I can't make it because I can't afford to come, but I believe in our special forces and I believe in what you're doing. And honor is the key. I wish I could come, but I can't but I wanted to show my support and this is all I could afford. In the envelope was a baggy, and this is not from a child. 8 cents, 8 pennies.”

Glenn was speechless. He tried to wrap his mind around what motivated a person to make a donation of eight pennies. And then he took the pennies and put them in his pocket - after replacing them with eight new ones, of course. Glenn explained, “I remember filling up my gas tank and having to count it out in change. I remember the days that, you know, my kids didn't think that my gas tank held more than $5.27. This to me is the epitome of our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

For Glenn, those eight pennies epitomized the notion of charity, where an individual gives as much as they can, of their own free will, to a cause in which they believe. Glenn had those pennies in his pocket during his speech on 8/28 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Divine Destiny

The night before 8/28, Glenn assembled a group of loyal listeners for a free event at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. For hours, people waited in line outside the Kennedy Center in order to get tickets to what Glenn promised would be an uplifting and spiritually enlightening event. And what an event it was! While ticket quantities were limited, Insider Extreme members were able to watch the event live over the Internet. Glenn and David Barton hosted the event, which was highlighted by gospel music, prayer, and testimonials. Chuck Norris even made an appearance on stage!

The abundance of miracles, amazing moments, people & memories makes 8.28, The Miracle on the Mall, the top Glenn moment of 2010. Click HERE to see the complete list.


December 29, 2010

Redefining media: Glenn launches the all new Insider Extreme @ Nokia Theater

This ain’t your momma’s webcam (wait – that sounded kind of creepy. That’s not what was intended – anyway)…Glenn may broadcast everyday from high above Times Square, but for the launch of Insider Extreme he took the show right to the heart of it all. Setting up at the Nokia Theater, Glenn unveiled the future of broadcasting in March of 2010. Glenn took the audience through the history of media, from print to radio to television, and finally to the web. More than any other event in 2010, the launch of Insider Extreme was a revolutionary moment for The Glenn Beck Program. The radio show, once a mostly auditory experience with a single web cam, became a professional six camera shoot. GlennBeck.TV saw the launch of a second show, the 4th Hour, which saw Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray step into a starring role tackling the news and issues that don’t fit into the regular three hours, as well as fan’s favorite topics (Sports!) and games l ike More On Trivia. The stage show was also the first Insider Extreme Special Event, a precursor to live events like Divine Destiny, Election Night, and America’s First Christmas. Check out this recap video of the first 5 months HERE. Look for even more to come in 2011 - get details on some of the new features  HERE.

Election Night 2010 & subsequent gloat-fest

No one had ever seen election coverage quite like this. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on fancy technology and “qualified” experts, Glenn broke out chalkboards and stickers. He relied on Stu for expert analysis, while Pat provided some armchair commentary. Brian Sack provided “on the ground” coverage from Times Square, San Francisco, Alaska, and, of course, Jupiter. Among the night’s many highlights was Glenn wandering off camera for twenty minutes, Brian Sack's “wardrobe malfunction”, and general conservative domination of the election results. But there was perhaps no bigger highlight than Alan Grayson losing the election, which Stu, Pat and Glenn pointed out over and over again. And again. And again. The five plus hours of coverage was available exclusively to Insider Extreme members and was the only place that Glenn could be found on election night.

Gloat-fest!

Not quite as fun as Gloat-fest 2004, but fun nonetheless. For one day only, Glenn & Co put all common decency aside and had a good hearty laugh at the expense of the Democrats who were absolutely thrashed in the mid-term elections. All the news wasn't perfect, of course - Barney Frank and Dick Blumenthal won their races. But Alan Grayson didn’t win! He lost. Badly! Watch gloat-fest 2010 HERE.


December 28, 2010

Glenn nominated for Time Person of the Year

Love him or hate him – one thing about Glenn that everyone can agree on is that people love to read about him. Fans want to hear what he has to say and so do the haters. That meant (unfortunately for America) Glenn’s mug was popping up everywhere.

Forbes Cover

Glenn talks a lot about how his business practices are more than a little unconventional, and yet 2010 has been Glenn’s most successful year yet. Forbes took notice, and on April 8th Glenn was the cover story on their magazine. It was an article about the success of his company. But it was really an article about you because Glenn's company literally wouldn't exist if it weren't for you. Your support has been amazing and it is truly appreciated. You work extremely hard for each and every dollar earned  - Glenn knows this and that's why it is his mission to ensure that when you spend your money (and even your time) with him, it's an investment you won't regret. Read the full article HERE.

NY Times Magazine

Glenn was all over the place in 2010. Washington DC, Wilmington, OH and various other cities all over the country. But perhaps the most shocking place Glenn showed up was on the cover of New York Times Magazine. The article made somewhat odd comparisons between Glenn and Drew Carey, talked about Glenn’s past and tendency to break out in tears, and - of course - his emergence as a media superstar. Nevertheless, Glenn found the article to be very fair, especially since it came from the bastion of media liberalism. To read the in depth (very long) article and see Glenn’s reaction, click HERE.

All the attention culminated with Glenn being nominated for Time’s Person of the Year – which eventually was awarded to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. But the real story isn’t that Glenn received recognition – this is recognition of you. Only a year prior you were ignored by Time in their ‘year in pictures’ – you felt alone – now everyone is hearing you loud and clear.


December 27, 2010

The Blaze

As if Glenn didn't have enough on his plate, he thought it'd be a good idea to pick up the slack for the mainstream media and start a brand new media platform. The latest is The Blaze ( theblaze.com), a site for news and opinion that's dedicated to covering all the big stories, and the stories the MSM are neglecting, spinning or not understanding. As Glenn put it, too many important stories were being overlooked or being distorted by the MSM. Let’s face it, Glenn was no stranger to complaining about the media. So he decided to do something about it. He went out and hired a team of journalists to go out and report the news the way it really happens.

Why call it The Blaze?

Glenn explains that when Moses saw the burning bush – the fire blazed  but the bush was not consumed. That fire was God. Stand in the truth and you will not be consumed – everything that isn’t the truth will eventually crumble.  Everyone at the Blaze will seek out truth and insight into current events, popular culture, and matters of faith and family. Built over just two months, The Blaze has already become a force to be reckoned with in the arena of online news, and 2010 was only the beginning. 2011 promises to be a big year for The Blaze as it continues to grow and become your #1 source for breaking news. Read Glenn's welcome note HERE.


December 24, 2010

Christmas Message from Glenn

Tomorrow is December 25th, what most think of as the end of the season.  But me, I see it as the “middle child” in our trilogy of American holidays.  We started back on Thanksgiving, preparing for the renewal that comes at the start of the New Year.  The thing is, January 1st can often be a disappointment. Not because your goals or resolutions were unrealistic, but because you didn’t properly prepare yourself spiritually.  That’s the process we’re going through.  So now that you cleared away the unnecessary distractions in your life on Thanksgiving (both material and otherwise) Christmas is the time to stop and think about what you really have and what it is you are truly grateful for.  This Christmas, I say that instead of spending the day saying, “Merry Christmas,” maybe it’s time we started to instead say, “Thank you.”

Christmas is a time for gratitude.  Think about just how blessed you are, and not just for your friends and family and whatever may be under the tree.  Think bigger. Think deeper.  Think of the Christ child and what he grew up to do.  What did he give up for you?  What are you willing to give up for others?  This is a time for service. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Be a shelter for someone else.  Help shoulder a burden and lighten someone’s load.  You, me…we all deserve a second chance, and that clean slate comes in the form of God’s redemption.  It’s the one gift we can all receive whenever we’re ready to accept it.  His redemption is always there for you, and not just on December 25th.

Be humble, get down on your knees and help your family rise up by getting down on their knees with you.  Christmas is a glorious time of year and perhaps the best time to remember the saying that goes, “All that is not given is lost.”  Show your gratitude through deeds and not just words.  Reflect on who you really are and what you really have. And through it all, be grateful that you’re here to experience it and know that the path towards redeeming your own life runs through the lives of others who also need help.  Then and only then can you be ready for what lies ahead in the New Year.  What a year it’s going to be!

And while I’m talking about gratitude, let me say just how thankful I am for you.  This year you have been especially gracious with your time and attention. You’ve sent me and my family your warm thoughts and prayers, and for that I will never be able to say thank you enough.  But I promise I’ll try.

May God bless you always, and I wish for you and yours a very Merry Christmas.


December 23, 2010

5pm on Fox still steamrolling

It was another great year on TV – the ratings continue to defy all the odds in the cable news world, routinely pulling down primetime numbers in a non-primetime slot. There were so many highlights, chalkboards, radicals and more – here’s 2 moments that stood out:

Glenn takes on Spooky Dude

Glenn had been talking all year about “Spooky Dude” George Soros, the power behind the throne of the Progressive movement. Well, after George Soros made a donation of a million dollars to support Media Matters in their crusade against Fox News, Glenn decided to reveal the puppet master behind the progressive structure that has taken hold over America. No stone was left unturned, as Glenn exposed Soros’ involvement in collapsing multiple governments throughout his lifetime. He tackled Soros’ childhood and education, drawing connections between his youth and his current world view. Glenn also went into depth about Soros’ connections to President Obama, known radical Van Jones, The Center for American Progress, and controversial legislation such as cap and trade. Glenn could have spent weeks and weeks focused solely on Soros, but rather than give all the answers on air, he put up the research needed for viewers to do their own homework.

The Red Phone finally Rings

It was a day that will live in infamy. Something happened that had never happened before. The red phone rang. As far as anyone on Glenn’s staff knew, the only people who had the number for the red phone were White House employees - so when Glenn was in a commercial break and the phone rang everyone went into a panic. The phone had sat quiet for so long on the set that no one could remember quite how to patch the audio into the control room! Glenn answered, and everyone was wondering who had called. Was it Robert Gibbs? John Holdren? President Obama himself? No, it was Tim from Texas. During one of Glenn’s monologues earlier in the show, he picked up the phone and the observant viewer was able to pause his DVR and copy down the number. After everyone calmed down, Glenn thanked him, got his information and made sure to send him something nice from the show. The staff made sure to change the number that night. The phone has not rung since.


December 22, 2010

The blueprint for America

“America’s First Christmas” from where Glenn dubbed ‘the ground zero of the recession’ Wilmington, Ohio. One of the themes all year long for Glenn was his core belief that we should expect miracles. In the midst of a tumultuous year, some incredible miracles still happened – including most recently in Wilmington. The people there are just incredible, and as soon as Glenn heard about them (a story in itself, how he found out) he knew their tale had to be told. Here were people who get it – America the way she was designed to be, people helping each other to get through very difficult times. The town had been thrust into economic hardship after DHL packed up and left town, taking 7,000+ jobs along with them. Glenn brought the show to Wilmington, not to bring them a message – but to bring their message to the rest of America. The values, principles, and all around human goodness in Wilmington and the ripple effect it’s already having on other Americans everywhere makes this a top moment of 2010…and look for more to come in 2011!


December 21, 2010

Health issues

Cancer? Rumsfield disease? Aspartame poisoning? Glenn’s health was a major concern in 2010. It’s hard to imagine someone built as rock solid as Glenn could have health issues (*cough*) but it was a scary year for Glenn and family this year. He announced he could go blind (he hasn’t), occasionally lacks feeling in his hands and feet (he’s still working like crazy), and has been working with a trainer to improve his health (on occasion). While Glenn underwent a series of tests at The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, there was one disease which could not be ruled out: nanobots!

While most “doctors” would not have reached this diagnosis, a caller was kind enough to call in and alert Glenn about “electronic harassment”. While the caller could not identify the sources of the attacks, referring to the attackers only as “they”, he said he had experienced many of the same symptoms as Glenn and was currently partially blind, hard of hearing, and experiencing similar tingling in his hands and feet. Stu immediately spent the rest of his day researching nanobot attacks, but nothing conclusive has been found at this time. But one thing Glenn can say conclusively – he felt each and every one of your prayers during times of doubt. The love and concern of this audience has left Glenn speechless (and often in tears) and the outpouring of support is something Glenn appreciated more than you can ever know, and will never be forgotten.  ( Transcript,The Blaze)


December 20, 2010

The next 2 weeks we are counting down the top Glenn moments of 2010. Today we start with:

Hey HEY, Ho HO, Glenn Beck has gots to GO! 2010 was another big year for boycotting Glenn Beck. He’s seen his share of boycotts since joining Fox News in 2009. Last year the highest profile boycotter was Obama’s Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, who used the group he founded, Color of Change, to lead the charge against Glenn. This year that boycott continued and a few others joined the mix. President Obama’s spiritual advisor Jim Wallis, through his group Sojourners, attempted to boycott Glenn over two words: Social Justice. Also joining in the fight to stop Glenn was the George Soros funded Tides Foundation. This ‘grassroots’ effort caught the eye of another organization: the George Soros funded Media Matters for America. They worked tirelessly and spent millions and millions and millions of dollars trying to get Glenn off the air. They failed. Instead, Glenn grew his radio program to over 400 stations nationwide, continued huge ratings on Fox News, pumped out New York Timesbestselling books, sold out theaters all over the country, had countless speaking engagements – AND actually expanded his media reach by adding 2 brand new platforms. That’s what the youth call a ‘boycott FAIL’.

One of those best-selling books is another top Glenn moment in 2010: The Overton Window

Glenn has spent years conquering the New York Times bestseller list, but the summer of 2010 saw Glenn pen his first political thriller. Noah Gardner, a young PR executive, has little interest in politics until he meets Molly Ross and gradually learns more and more about how America as we know it is about to be lost forever. Glenn blended fact and fiction to address the problems facing our country, andThe Overton Window debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list. Some of the books glowing reviews:

“Let's face it, this book is horrible on all fronts. The plot is completely stupid and gets derailed every three chapters so someone can launch into pages-long political theories that make absolutely no sense.”

“I would never read this book and based on the reviews I read, I think I get the book.”

“The book is garbage. The writing is horrible.”

“This is an excellent read if you are suffering from insomnia, or need to purge your stomach.”

Everyone knew the libs would bash the book no matter what – need proof? To promote the book, Glenn played this fantastic promo which featured a poem by Nobel Prize winning writer Rudyard Kipling. Of course, the progressive dolts from the Huffington Post and others thought the poem was done by Glenn, so they bashed it. Oh, you progressives are sooo culturally superior! Not. Another thing critics get wrong about Glenn is that they often call him a shill for the Republican Party. Obviously they didn’t see his CPAC speech…

CPAC

Back in February, Glenn gave one of the biggest speeches of his career at the 2010 CPAC conference. Glenn was the keynote speaker for the three day conservative conference, and he took the opportunity to deliver a message to Republicans about getting their own house in order and eliminating the threat the Progressives present to America. Was it still morning in America, as Ronald Reagan so famously put it? Yes! It’s just a really bad hangover morning! Glenn accused the GOP of having an addiction to big government and big spending, and that the only way to fix the problem was to admit their problem, enter a “recovery program” and stop being Progressive-lite. Shockingly, most of the media coverage following the speech was fairly positive, or at least ignored.  Check out the full video of the speech HERE.

 

Ryan: Elizabeth Warren does the Wing Ding

Photo by Sean Ryan

Two thousand people yipped and howled as Elizabeth Warren bounced onto the stage like it was a stairmaster and she was a gym rat.

Sold out. Maximum capacity. Whole place writhing, all 30,000 square feet, with tight rows of folding chairs like checkers on the dancefloor big as a Walgreens.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Under the disco ball that hung from the dark blue ceiling, the crowd screamed like Warren was Led Zeppelin and the year was 1970, when really she was a 70-year-old Senator and this was a fundraiser called Wing Ding, in Clear Lake, Iowa, at the Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly spent the last few cold hours of his life.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Warren did not stand behind the podium like Biden or Bernie Sanders.

She was a yoga grandma! A rapping pastor! A beat-boxing cop! An energetic manager! A cat who thinks it's a puppy!
It was like she needed to move around the stage and wave her arms and fire up the congregation or else the floor would belch into lava.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Iowa would work its magic on Warren. By the end of the weekend, she emerged as a top contender, a position she'd maintain with alacrity, then build on.

In her turquoise blazer and her shoes-that-meant-business, she strolled out to the edge of the stage and gave her speech like a natural-born specialist of hootenanny.

Only thing missing was The Who's "Teenage Wasteland," or, better yet, that "Sail away, sail away, sail away" song by Enya.
Warren was a car commercial, the kind directed at Millenials, with plastic indie rock and a phony "who gives a shit" vibe. She was expensive cheese from right around the corner. She was Nancy Sinatra, but without Lee Hazelwood.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Voice like a stack of hay catching fire, she made promises. She riled the crowd. And it was an odd sight, the way these meek folks attempted to get rowdy. The way they grimaced and writhed, it was like seeing the reclusive kid volunteer to be the mascot.

It was like they were trying to match the intensity of Trump rallies. No politician has been able to do that so far. The man fills arenas, for God's sake. And his supporters wait for hours outside hoping to get inside. Then he makes them wait. Let's the place get feverish.

Until people are so psyched that they literally cannot remain seated, and they stand their eagerly for thirty minutes, gasping every time a song ends with the hope it means he has arrived.

The Wing Dinger — God bless them — just didn't have that dragon energy, that ravenous devotion. Have you ever seen that show "Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job"? The people in the ballroom were hyperventilating and spazzing like characters from Tim & Eric. The whole occasion would have been a pickpocket's dream.

Variously, they bulged and shuffled and freestyled to themselves. Who gave the kids sugar cookies at the Baptist youth sleepover? You know they can't handle it, you know they get twitchy, so manic it's almost violent.

And that fed Warren, revved her manic engines.

Full speech: Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding www.youtube.com

If this had been the 1980s, I would have suspected everyone there had spent all day railing cocaine. And Warren would be the Sly Stone of the event, guarding the vault full of drugs.

If only she could have pulled out a guitar and played AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" or performed a duet with a cat on a keyboard. My dad and I had arrived late, and both of us struggled to relax our eyebrows because this scene was unbelievable. It must have been especially odd for my father, who emigrated from Ireland at 33.

And right now he was frowning because it was so loud in there.

As Warren shouted into a handheld mic, my dad turned to me, almost upset, "Who is she?" he asked, but before I could answer, he said, "I do not like that woman."

*

When Warren was 12 years old, her father suffered a debilitating heart attack.

He didn't die, but he wouldn't be able to work for years.

The medical bills got so bad that Warren'sfamily nearly lost their home. The car was repossessed. Those were gritty, emaciating days.

Her older brothers joined the military. Her mother got a minimum wage job at Sears. And, at 13, Warren started waiting tables.

She grew up in Oklahoma, where I myself was raised, so I can tell you that it is the Cinderella of States. My personal favorite. At night, the stars croon down over you like they are checking on their infant in its crib and you are that infant. Much like Iowans, people from Oklahoma tend to be kind, and patient, and wild like Americans ought to be.

*

When Warren was growing up, Oklahoma was a Blue State. Her family wasn't Republican. And, these days, Warren is considered a progressive.

But her worldview has evolved over the past few decades.

Photo by Sean Ryan

As a girl, she had seen the effects of bankruptcy firsthand. But her early conclusions led her to personal responsibility. After all, she had taken a job at 13 to help pay her dad's medical bills.

One of Warren's former students, told reporters that, "What changed [Warren's ideology] was the stories of ordinary people filing for bankruptcy. That speaks really well of her that she was presented with information contrary to her worldview and adopted it."
Before that, she leaned right, politically. Or, in the words of one of her best friends growing up, "Liz was a diehard conservative in those days."

Another friend called her an "ice-cold Republican."

A colleague at the University of Texas in Austin, where she worked in the early 1980s, said that "Liz was sometimes surprisingly anti-consumer in her attitude."

Another colleague said "I remember the first time I became aware of her as a political person and heard her speak, I almost fell off my chair. She's definitely changed. It's absolutely clear that something happened."

Until 1996, when she was 47 years old, Warren was a registered Republican.

And I do not mean this in a snarky way. Opposite. It's admirable when people undergo personal change. We have to. It's a matter of survival. A person who never evolves is blinded by hubris and destined to fail.

Longtime Warren collaborator Jay Westbrook has told reporters, "It drives me crazy when she's described as a radical left-winger.

She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal. When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line."

At some point she got pregnant for the first time, setting in motion a series of events that may have involved discrimination, or may have been a fabrication she has since used in stump speeches as a heart-tugging anecdote.

As far as controversies go, it's as goofy and PG-rated as her onstage persona.

Who cares if she lied for the sake of a story and the benefit of victimhood? Trump lies constantly. Politicians lie constantly. It's part of the reason public trust in government has sunk lower than ever before.

No, it's not morally acceptable that politicians are habitually dishonest. But the outrage aimed at Warren isn't actually about that, is it?

*

Warren won state debate champion in high school. Shortly after graduating, at 19, she married Jim Warren, a mathematician who worked for IBM, then NASA.

The two dated when Elizabeth was 13 and Jim was 17. Warren chose marriage over a full-ride to the prestigious George Washington University.

Three years later, she gave birth to her first daughter. You can find the picture of her in the hospital bed, surrounded by white sheets, her eyes an oceanic blue, glowing as she holds her baby for the first time, a technicolor sash around her left shoulder.

She focused on being a mom for two years, then put herself through law school at Rutgers. At her graduation, she was eight months pregnant. Most airlines won't allow women so close to their due date.

After ten years of marriage and two children, her husband divorced her.

Warren hadn't expected it. One night, she asked her husband, "Do you want a divorce" and he said yes, even though she'd been asking in that, "Something's wrong but surely things aren't so bad" kind of way.

Imagine the enormity and disbelief she must have felt as her husband said he'd be leaving her. The kind of moment that gives a person vertigo.

Warren tried to revive the marriage, but her husband had given up. Before long he moved out, quit smoking, got super into dancing, then remarried.

Politicians tend to mention tragedies only as evidence for a policy stance. Or occasionally these stories will appear in a candidate profile. Or you can read the ice-cold Encyclopedia version.

I always wonder about the desperation people suffered in those moments that must have seemed so long, the quiet after bitter words or desperate outbursts. The enormity they must have felt.

In moments of trauma, we become intensely aware of the noises and smells and colors and momentos around us. What was the first object Warren noticed after hearing her husband say, "Yes"?

She has since said that she and Jim never really fought. That she didn't blame him for leaving. But that they just didn't work out. "I can't imagine anybody putting up with me over long periods. It's why I can never be cranky about Jim. I get it."

Still, a marriage has to be fairly bad for a couple with young children to divorce. But even an amicable divorce is devastating. It marks the death of a love that had once been good enough and deep enough for two people to bind themselves together, if only by law.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Now, Warren was a single mother. Surely, at times, that was lonesome. She must have felt moments of intense waywardness.

There must have been anxious nights, lonely mornings, swarming with memories about life as it was, all those plans for the future that must feel so naive in hindsight.

Warren's quirkiness has made her an easy piñata for her rivals.

But I just think about her, alone in a room, folding clothes or staring off, blinking and slouching there alone, and I feel disgust for politics as a bloodsport.

What do rancor or invective get us in the end? A winner who trounced a loser? What is the human cost? Not just for the people being targeted, but for the world as we'd like it.

Why isn't it enough to disagree with an opponent? Why does there have to be humiliation?

And if it's wrong from one politician, it's wrong from them all.

A person can't decry the abuse that President Trump faces — which is daunting in intensity and volume — then cheer him on when he's doing the same exact thing.

Somebody is going to have to take a slap or two to the face and not react, but it would accomplish far more than a vitriolic comeback.

At this point, three years into Trump's Presidency, there was no way to tell who started it and who was just reacting, so everyone involved in the fight was guilty.

In other words, people could no longer blame Trump for how the selfsame persona they had taken in response.

To quote Morrisey, "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind."

When the ram charges straight for you, all you have to do is take a step to the left or the right and off the angry bastard goes, headfirst into the ground. Do that a few times and you'll get more support than you might expect.

Which, I'm not saying to never fight. Conflict is healthy. Passivism can be worse than violence. To fight is to live honorably. But only if justice is the reason for fighting.

If the ram is coming at you because it wants to silence or control you, grit your teeth, chalk up your horns, lower your head, and go to battle. Courage and morality are vastly different than bravado and self-righteousness.

As Tolstoy wrote in his novel War and Peace, "If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war."

*

Two years later, Warren married Bruce Mann, a law professor. They've been married ever since.

For nearly three decades, she taught law, mostly at Harvard.

Then, she shifted to politics. In 2008, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed her to a congressional panel. Two years later, she became a special advisor to Barack Obama, who had selected her as special adviser to the Treasury secretary, but stopped short of nominating her as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Shortly after, she resigned. A month later, she announced her Congressional bid, which gained momentum after her speech at that year's Democratic National Convention.

In 2013, she was elected senior Senator of Massachusetts after beating Republican incumbent Scott Brown with 53 percent of the vote. She would go on to win a second term in 2018, this time with 60 percent.

Every candidate has a stain. Warren's happens to have led to mockery. For years, she claimed Native American heritage. For many of the right, it was yet another example of the left's allegiance to identity politics.

The left was more concerned with the way the issue come to attention to begin with, after remarks President Trump made during an event honoring Navajo code talkers. As has become the norm, many of the country's leading news outlets ran scathing anti-Trump op-eds that they labeled as hard news.

In other words, opinion was being packaged as fact. In other words, propaganda. Like the passive-aggressive tone of this Washington Post article.

Which is certainly not the right way to handle injustice. And is certainly not journalistically sound.

Once again, the media's blatant disdain of Trump only served to further empower him. Gave him more proof of fake news. And allowed him to justify, in the eyes of his followers, the repeated use of the Warren's nickname.

Worst of all, it widened the distance between the news media and the portion of the American public they'd long ago lost access to.

Likewise, conservative news outlets pounced with an air of, "See? I knew it all along?"

And responded with a different version of the same aggression used by the media. Outlets like FoxNews played up their masterful victim narrative, the idea that the mainstream media has a stranglehold on America, despite the fact that FoxNews has long been the dominant news source of the mainstream media they claim to be a victim of.

Photo by Sean Ryan

This feedback loop played out until Elizabeth Warren's genetics became a national conversation.

Last year Warren released a DNA test that revealed sher to be only between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native America. Fellow democratic candidate Corey Booker — a Senator from New Jersey — has more Native American DNA than Warren. And, unfortunately for Warren, the nickname that President Trump gave her gained more power.

During an interview on MSNBC, Warren said, "It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur. Donald Trump does this over and over thinking somehow he is going to shut me up with it. It hasn't worked in the past, it isn't going to work out in the future."

In a bizarre twist, Warren's ex-husband was a pioneer in the field of genetics and helped make the technology accessible to the public when he co-founded FamilyTreeDNA, which sells genetic testing kits.

*

Across the street from the Surf Ballroom, 300 yards from the entrance, a Trump 2020 sign the size of a front door glared out, impossible to avoid.

Photo by Sean Ryan

It's a power play in line with Trump's own combat style — which, again, there's nothing wrong with a good fight, even if there is some dirty fighting, but why did it have to be all of the time? And why had everyone joined in on it?

*

Warren began her presidential campaign on Febraury 8, 2019, with a rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts, at the site of the 1912 Bread and Roses textile strike, a two-month-long standoff that led to 296 arrests.

Three people died, an Italian immigrant, who was shot in the chest. A Lithuanian immigrant who was beaten to death for wearing a pro-labor lapel pin. And a Syrian boy who was bayoneted in the spine.

The strike takes its name from a James Oppenheim poem.

"As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,For they are women's children, and we mother them again."

*

As Warren drove her speech to a close, Kamala Harris paced down the long ramp by the side of the stage, then walked through a curtain that divided the hallway from backstage, then into the crowded ballroom, immediately surrounded by cameras, lights, hands, selfies.

Ten feet behind the curtain, Joe Biden shifted at the side of the stage, chatting with several people in brand-new Biden 2020 shirts, and waiting to go on.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Each candidate had 10 minutes or so, which Biden, like most of the other candidates, would use to insult Trump and fumbled through his "President's words matter" speech, two days after his "poor kids are just as talented as white kids" comment, and I wondered if everyone else found the irony as hilarious as I did.

Now Warren was pounding her fist.

The already hysterical crowd became even more incensed with each of her words. It was the first moment I realized that Warren actually had a shot at winning the nomination.

*

Of all the towns we visited while in Iowa, Clear Lake was the most puzzling. It didn't feel like the rest of what we'd seen. It didn't resemble any other town in the country, far as I can say. Just a general ideal for "lovely American town."

Maybe Clint Eastwood's Carmel, California, or the wealthy part of Charlotte, North Carolina, or the gorgeous shaded Rice Village neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

Warren shuffled offstage and shook hands with Biden.

Then cue the Bruce Springsteen song. And somebody hurry up and push the button that activates Biden's facelift.

"The words that Presidents speak matter," said Biden. And some of the crowd were hearing him say it for the first time.

Warren gabbed with a lady in a floral dress backstage. They held hands like sisters. After a minute or so, she vanished backstage. Then the whole gig was finished. Closing time had come.

Andrew Yang hung out in the lobby after all the other candidates left. He took selfies. Talked policy. Behind him, young people in Yang 2020 shirts and hats that said "MATH" handed out Yang money.

He hugged. He laughed.

People puttered out of the Surf Ballroom in no sort of hurry, giddy in their candidate t-shirts, ready to effect change, to dethrone Trump.

The air had a gentle sway, tilted by a northern cold that felt winter-like, especially for August.

Right as the last big group of Wing Dingers walked out of the Surf Ballroom, a small car drove by, windows down, packed with young men who kept shouting, "Vote for Trump, baby!"

Then, stalled at a stop sign, the driver revved the engine and spun the tires, and as it sped off, one of the guys in the back seat shouted "Trump 2020, bitches."

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

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