Friday, November 19, 2010

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

With Kevin Balfe and Jason Wright.
Published in 2008. 284 pages.

This "feel good" Christmas tale wasn't as awful as I expected it to be - which is probably the highest praise I can give!

When it was announced that The Christmas Sweater would be the next pick for my long-time book club, I told the group that I'd vowed to never to read a book by Glenn Beck. One group member promptly reminded me that I always said that the best thing about book clubs was that they get me to read things I wouldn't choose on my own. Caught in this reading dilemma, I held out for a while (somewhat bolstered by the knowledge that another non-Beck fan in the group was boycotting the meeting altogether) and then decided that I really ought to read the book if I was to have any credibility in the group discussion. I finally read it the very afternoon of the book club meeting.

I found the story to be poorly written, repetitious, wordy, with plot holes and a lack of attention to details. A bad writing gimmick introduced at the beginning of chapter 16 made me want to scream. And despite receiving an assurance from the book club friend who'd selected the book that there was nothing political about it, I found the judgmental commentary on "government handouts" in the form of food stamps on pages 9 and 10 (yes, that early in the book!) to be offensive.

The thing is. I agree with most of the themes and concepts Beck presents in the book. Happiness is found not in material goods but in relationships and within ourselves. The principle of atonement is powerful and can indeed transform lives, giving us the second - and third and fourth - chances we need. God is mindful of us and "when life's perils thick confound [us, we can, indeed] put His arms unfailing round [us]." Those are truths that lie at the center of my life.

But. And this is big. Those messages run contrary to the messages of hate and fear and anger that I hear from Beck in other forums. That makes it hard for me to "feel good" about this book.

I did tell my book club friends that I probably would have been less critical of the book if it had been written by someone else. And I am glad I read it - so the true-ism about book clubs getting the members to read things they wouldn't have otherwise read is validated.



  1. Wasn't as awful as you expected it to be? Oh... now, I don't think I've ever read anything by Beck.

  2. The 'hate and fear and anger' you hear from Beck 'in other forums'? I'm curious. Can you give me an example of this?