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Commentator Glenn Beck brought his "Very Merry Stand-Up Tour" to the E Center. He also talked about his conversion to the LDS faith.

GLENN BECK CHRISTMAS TOUR, E Center, West Valley City, Saturday

WEST VALLEY CITY — For nearly 3 1/2 hours on Saturday night, commentator-storyteller Glenn Beck kept an estimated 7,000 fans entertained in the E Center arena for what is reportedly his final "Very Merry Stand-up Tour."

In addition to the 2 1/2-hour Christmas show, Beck showed film clips of work being done on next season's show "The Christmas Sweater" — which appears to be slightly more dramatic with a musical score. He also gave the local crowd an hourlong bonus about his journey from alcohol and drug addiction to his conversion to the LDS Church.

He's gone from rock-bottom to rock-solid.

Beck (who seems to be this generation's version of Will Rogers) cheerfully, almost impishly, digs into liberal social and political issues. Saturday, in a family-room setting, he was considerably less tense than he is on his nightly CNN television show. He displayed a laid-back, comical side in sharing stories about his dysfunctional family and their assortment of Christmas traditions.

One issue he brought up was the ridiculous amount of "political correctness" this time of year. "We can't even speak to each other about it," he said.

Beck focused on the meaning of Christmas and how it's been lost in recent years. The stage setting included two large Christmas — not "holiday" — trees. "Today, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' would be about a handicapped animal, probably covered by Title 9."

He also lit into the endless "Twelve Days of Christmas," including all the birds in just the first three verses. "And my true love would never give me eight maids a-milking."

Then he invited the rapt audience to join him in a search for the true meaning of Christmas. "It's the magic — but where do we find it?" he said.

Beck told of some of his childhood adventures, and, later in life, helping his daughters discover Christmas — looking for just the right tree, writing letters to Santa and the disastrous time when his daughter Hannah wrote her own letter to Santa and didn't let her Dad see it, which became a hilarious incident where Beck had to come up with some sort of explanation — and fast.

He also touched on his grandfather's penchant for tales, many of which were more fiction than fact; his "dingbat-nice" stepmother's nasty-tasting "smoke cookies"; his grandmother's top-secret sugar cookies (no, ground beef is NOT an ingredient); and the time his stepmom attacked her sofa with a saw.

"Christmas is not just about the birth of Christ," Beck said, "it's about the man that Baby Jesus grew up to be ... about the power to start over again. We are all worthy of redemption."

He told of one Christmas when his mother gave him the only thing she could afford — a sweater he didn't particularly care for. A couple of weeks later she found it crumpled up in a ball on the floor of his room. (This is the "Christmas Sweater" his 2008 show will be built around.)

"I can't just leave my redemption rolled up in a ball like my old sweater," he said.

The third hour of the show was videotaped for what will eventually be a DVD about his conversion to the LDS Church.


E-mail: ivan@desnews.com