Fusion Magazine: The Patron Saint of Hope

How the Story of Moses Shaped America

 

By Bruce Feiler

Is there a more empty word in political rhetoric than hope? A third of American presidents have used the word in an inaugural address. In William Safire’s collection of the “great speeches in history,” Lend Me Your Ears, the language maven gathered more than 200 orations from Cicero to Margaret Thatcher. The word hope appears in 100 of them. In American politics of late, the word has become so overused it’s almost, well, hopeless.

And yet, few ideas have had more power in creating the United States than hope. Few concepts have stitched together the sometimes conflicting tensions among our religious, secular, and entrepreneurial impulses than hope. And few ideas are more central to our future than hope.

Even more surprising: These disparate strands of the American character have often found an expression in a most unlikely source. He is the figure who inspired more Americans than any other. He is the figure who shaped more iconic American symbols of opportunity – from the Statue of Liberty to Superman – than any other. He is the patron saint of hope.

His name is Moses.


America's Prophet


by Bruce Feiler

Five years ago, after spending years retracing the Bible through the deserts of the Middle East and writing such books as Walking the Bible and Abraham, I began spending more time at home. One day, while visiting Plymouth, Massachusetts, with my family, I boarded a replica of the Mayflower. A re-enactor was reading from the Bible. “Exodus 14,” he stated, “[the] Israelites are trapped in front of the Red Sea and Moses declares, ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’ Our leader read us that passage while we were crossing the Atlantic.” Hmmm, I thought. Moses, on board the Mayflower.

On a trip to my hometown of Savannah, I saw a letter from George Washington in which he credits his success in the Revolution to the “same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivered the Hebrews from their Egyptian oppressors.” Exodus, on Washington’s pen.

On a trip to Philadelphia, I discovered that the quote on the side of the Liberty Bell is from Moses. “PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF. The law of Sinai in the middle of July 4th.

In coming weeks, I found a similar story over and over again. Columbus comparing himself to Moses when he sailed in 1492. George Whitefield quoting Moses as he traveled the colonies in the 1730’s forging the Great Awakening. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, in the summer of 1776, proposing that Moses be on the seal of the United States. Harriet Tubman adopting Moses’ name on the Underground Railroad. Abraham Lincoln being eulogized as Moses’ incarnation. The spikes of light and tablet on the Statue of Liberty being molded in Moses’ honor. Cecil B. De- Mille recasting Moses as a hero for the Cold War. Martin Luther King likening himself to Moses on the night before he was killed. The sheer ubiquity was staggering, and, for me, completely unknown.

For two years, I traveled to touchstones in American history and explored the role of the Bible, the Exodus, and Moses in inspiring generation after generation of Americans. Discovering how much the biblical narrative of the Israelites has colored the vision and informed the values of 20 generations of Americans and their leaders was like discovering an entirely new window into a house I thought I knew. You can’t understand American history, I now believe, without understanding Moses. He is a looking glass into our soul. But why?

The answer comes back to the profound connection between the story of Moses and the idea of hope. As theologian Walter Brueggemann has written, the role of the prophet is “to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing alternative futures to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.” That is Moses’ gift and his legacy: He proposes an alternative reality to the one we face at any given moment. He suggests there is something better than the mundane, the enslaved, the second-best, the compromised. He encourages people to be revolutionary. Perhaps Americans’ chief debt to Moses is his message that we should never settle for the status quo, and always aspire to what Thoreau termed the “true America.” In the words of W.E.B. DuBois, “Not America, but what America might be.”

This, I believe, is the chief lesson to take from the story of Moses, and why his 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai have had such a profound effect on the American dream. The years I worked on my book about Moses overlapped with the earliest years of my daughters’ lives, and because of that a moment in the Moses story took on special meaning. The passage comes in Exodus, on the eve of the 10th plague and the first Seder, when Moses says, “When in time your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ What will you tell them?” I began to wonder how I would answer that question. What will I tell my children about the meaning of Moses?

First, the power of story. Exodus 1:8 features this memorable phrase: “A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.” The story begins with forgetting. The rest of the Five Books of Moses becomes an antidote to this state of forgetfulness. God hears the groaning of Israel and “remembers his covenant” (Ex. 2:24). Moses leads the Israelites from Egypt and urges them to “remember this day” (Ex. 13:3). The Israelites are ordered to “remember the Sabbath day” (Ex. 20:8). Moses’ goal is to build a counter-Egypt. He must construct a society that offers an alternative to ignorance and unknowingness. He must devise a community that remembers.

Moses’ success in this regard may be his most underappreciated accomplishment: The Five Books of Moses are a memory device. In slavery, the Israelites made bricks; in freedom, they make stories. As historian Jonathan Sacks put it, “By telling the Israelites to become a nation of educators, Moses turned a group of slaves into a people of eternity.” So my first message to my daughters: Remember. Keep the story, as Moses says in Deuteronomy 30, “in your mouth and in your heart.”

Second, the story is a narrative of hope. “This year we are slaves,” the Passover service says, “but next year ...” History is not set in stone. It is not an immovable pyramid. It can be remade. The pyramid can be flipped. When you despair, when you hurt, when you fear – and especially when you encounter those feelings in others – remember the slaves who first groaned under bondage. In America, the pilgrims, the founders, the enslaved, the ghettoized, and the segregated, all read the Israelites’ story and believed that they, too, might be free. You should read the Israelites’ story, too, and remember this lesson: There is a moral dimension to the universe. Right can prevail over might; justice can triumph over evil. As Princeton Professor Michael Walzer writes, “Anger and hope, not resignation, are the appropriate responses to the Egyptian house of bondage.” You should read the story of Moses and remember to flip a few pyramids yourselves along the way. And as long as it’s not your parents (remember that fifth commandment!), you should question authority. Overturn injustice. Befriend the stranger, for you, yourselves, were strangers once in a land with no hope.

Which leads to my third point: Act. One reason Moses has inspired so many Americans over the centuries is that he evangelizes action; he justifies risk. He gives ordinary people the courage to live with uncertainty. As I found in my own travels in the Sinai desert over the years, no matter how full of hope the Israelites were when they departed Egypt, they were still leaving the most civilized place on Earth for the most barren, based only on the word of a God they’d never actually seen and a leader they barely knew. Moses is the enemy of caution, which is one reason so many visionaries have been inspired by him – Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King. And these people were not born to greatness. They became great by tapping into the anger and hope within themselves. The moral of their lives, like that of Moses, is that each of us must become our own agitator, our own entrepreneur, our own freedom fighter. Our own Moses.

The Bible suggests a similar ending in Deuteronomy 34 when it says that Moses’ successor “was filled with the spirit of wisdom” because Moses had laid his hands on him. Moses’ farewell gesture is also an act of love: He teaches. He may not achieve the Promised Land, but he transfers his wisdom to those who shall. The man becomes a book. Born on the lip of the Nile, he dies on the brink of the Jordan. The boy who was given life by being floated on the water becomes the prophet who yields to death at water’s edge. And in doing so, he leaves the crossing to each of us, who must hear his words and heed his story. Left with only his telling and his wisdom, we must split the sea ourselves now. We must run our own errand into the wilderness.

I will tell my daughters that this is the meaning of the Moses story and why it has reverberated through the American story. America, it has been said, is a synonym for human possibility. I dream for you, girls, the privilege of that possibility. Imagine your own promised land, perform your own liberation, plunge into the waters, persevere through the dryness, and don’t be surprised – or saddened – if you’re stopped just short of your dream. Because the ultimate lesson of Moses’ life is that the dream does not die with the dreamer, the journey does not end on the mountaintop, and the true destination in a narrative of hope is not this year at all.

But next.

Bruce Feiler is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including  Walking the Bible, Abraham, and The Council of Dads. The article is adapted from  his book America’s Prophet: How the Story of Moses Shaped America, which Glenn Beck called “the best book of narrative history I have ever read... I cannot recommend it highly enough.” For more information, please visit www.brucefeiler.com



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Glenn Beck: Here's how YOU can fix the Great Reset's housing crisis

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How's the housing market looking these days? Because under Build Back Better (aka the Great Reset), investors are grabbing up homes at a record pace.

On "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn discussed a recent Redfin News report, which shows that almost one in five homes sold in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2021 was purchased by an investment firm, and many are paying tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price.

"Think of that, one in every five homes that are sold are going to a big investment firm," Glenn said. "Investors bought more than 90,000 homes, totaling more than $63 billion, representing 18% of all homes sold in the quarter. The numbers broke all records."

"The same factors have pushed more Americans to rent, which also creates opportunities for investors, because investors typically turn the homes they purchase into rentals," he continued. "And now they can charge higher rents. Rent for single-family homes surged by more than 10% in the 12 months, through September. The fastest annual rent inflation in 16 years."

"And nearly 77% purchased were bought in an all-cash transaction," Glenn added. "That's not your average person. These investment firms, like BlackRock, are going in and buying entire neighborhoods. They are the people that come in, and say, 'I'll give you $70,000 over the asking price.' ... Now, why would investment firms think they will just be able to make money paying $70,000 over the asking price? What is it that they know, that you don't know? Could they know, as the Great Reset states, that by 2030, you will own nothing and you'll like it?"

Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn offer his thoughts on how you can solve the Great Reset's housing crisis:


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To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On "Glenn TV" Wednesday, Glenn Beck exposes the radical plan to flip the United States from capitalism to socialism and into a lawless nation. It's an old strategy that mirrors a communist Cold War playbook. The goal now, as it was then, is this: How do they get a revolution without all that civil war stuff? It’s a five-step plan, and we're deep into several of the main steps RIGHT NOW.

Our justice system has been infiltrated by woke leftists, and something called "the progressive prosecutor movement" is methodically transforming Main Street USA into Main Street Gotham City. We can see it all over the country in places like San Francisco, with the Waukesha massacre as a terrifying glimpse into more of what's coming. And the media? They're currently running interference in one of the largest misinformation operations in history.

It’s happening at the city, state, AND federal levels. And President Trump might be one of the biggest victims of them all, a fact that even Trump critic Joe Rogan has realized on the Russia collusion hoax: “No one is being held accountable!” That ends now, as Glenn calls on Americans to push back on the lies that keep us divided in a cold civil war.

Watch the full episode below:

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To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

A "one-world government" is being formed right now and it’s called the Great Reset, Glenn Beck said on the radio program Monday. And now, rebuild plans for the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral hint at the formation of a global church, too.

In this clip, Glenn detailed plans for the iconic, 850-year-old church’s "woke" renovations that sound more like a 'politically correct Disneyland' complete with a "discovery trail," "emotional spaces," and 14 themed chapels.

"Notre Dame is now being built back better as a 'woke theme park' dedicated to environmentalism and social justice," Glenn explained.

"There will be several different chapels within, [for example] a chapel for social justice, and then chapel for environmental justice," he continued. "Which leads me to this point. The 'one-world government' is being formed, right now. One-world government. It is being formed and it's called The Great Reset."

Glenn went on to predict that one of the first steps in the direction of a one-world government will be a push for a global religion.

"I think we're seeing the first church now being dedicated to the new global religion — and it is social justice, environmental justice, and all this gobbledygook. We all know, it's not just wrong, it is dangerous. That's the first church, the cathedral of Notre Dame, in France, is the first global church. Mark my words. Christian, Jews, Muslims ... this global church will bring darkness unlike you've ever seen."

Watch the video clip from "The Glenn Beck Program" below:

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To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

The Omicron COVID-19 variant: Should we ACTUALLY panic?

Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

As the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus approaches, it seems like those in power want everyone to be terrified, Glenn Beck argued on the radio program Monday.

The chair of the World Medical Association's Council, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, is already comparing the variant to Ebola and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has declared a state of emergency, despite the doctor who announced its discovery describing the new variant's symptoms as "unusual, but mild." So, should we really be worried or not?

In this clip, Glenn and producer Stu Burguiere reviewed what we know about the Omicron variant so far and gave a few reasons why we should wait for more information before succumbing to panic.

Note: The content of this clip does not provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of local health officials for any COVID-related questions & concerns.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.