American Culture

Jerry Falwell is dead – let’s accord his long career the respect it deserves

I think the late Rev. Falwell would agree with the suggestion that there are bad people in the world, people who trade on ignorance and hate and whose lives diminish our collective humanity. And in that spirit, he would certainly agree that we’re better off when such people pass onto their final reward. It’s for Jesus to judge the life of every person, not me.

That said, I would enjoy a chance to be in the gallery as Jerry and Jesus discuss some of the highlights of his career.

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  1. Things like that remind me that the work I’m doing actually is important, not for convincing them (because really, who among them is going to listen to a North East born, queer Harvard Divinity student), but for persisting in offering an alternative.

  2. Nice write up.

    I’m buying popcorn. It’s time to sit back and watch history revisionists bestow sainthood upon him.

  3. So, Falwell, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Slobodan Milosevic are sitting on a bench in Hell’s version of Ellis Island together and Tomas de Torquemada walks up.
    “You’re gonna love it here, ” he says. “I’ve been here centuries and it feels like – well, like centuries….”
    Falwell says, “But this is hell!”
    Torquemada looks at him with a rather bored expression.
    “But this is hell!” protests Falwell again. “And look, there are all those Jews who worked for the Nazis at the camps. And there’s Diego Deza. And Khomeini is an Islamist – ”
    “Child of Allah!” corrects Khomeini.
    Falwell looks exasperated but continues, “And Milosevic is a mass
    Torquemada smiles at Milosevic and says, “Hitler, Stalin and all those guys have a card game on Thursday nights. I’ll introduce you to them. They’ll probably invite you to join the 7th Circle/1st Ring Club….”
    But this is Hell!” Falwell says again, his voice rising….
    Torquemada sighs. “Yes, Jerry, this is Hell. You’ll want to join our encounter group that meets on Mondays at the 7th Circle/3rd Ring Club. You’ll want to come too, Ruhollah….”
    “But, But….” Falwell sputters….Then, finally, “I don’t belong in Hell…!”
    Torquemada looks at him sternly, then puts his hands on Falwell’s shoulders. “Look, Jerry. You’re going to have to get past that. You don’t want to end up in the 8th circle with the hypocrites do you?”
    Falwell slumps over for a long time. Then he sits up, gets that sparkle back into his eyes, and looks up at Torquemada. “Well, couldn’t we at least get rid of those Jews?”
    “Ah! Great idea!” says Khomeini, leaping to his feet.
    Torquemada motions Falwell to stand, puts an arm around the shoulders of each, and says, “Fellows, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship….”

  4. Jim’s “joke” reminded me of two things. One was the following joke

    A Pagan died and, much to her surprise, found herself at the Pearly Gates facing St. Peter. He walked up to her and said, “Hello, and welcome.”

    She stared at St. Peter in complete confusion. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I was supposed to end up in the Summerlands.”

    He smiled. “Ah, you must be one of our Pagan sisters. Follow me, please.”

    Peter gestured for her to follow him down a small path which went through the gates and down a bit to the left. They walked for a short while, then he stepped back and gestured her forward.

    Looking past his hand, she saw the verdant fields and forests of her desired Summerlands. She saw people feasting, dancing, and making merry, exactly as she expected. While shaking her head in wonder, the Pagan happened to glance over to one side and saw a small group of people a short way away from the edge of the Summerlands. The people in the group were watching the revelers, but not joining them. Instead, they were screaming and weeping piteously.

    The Pagan looked at St. Peter. “Who are those people?”

    St. Peter replied, “Them? They’re fundamentalists. They’re a bit surprised to see you all there, so they stand there and carry on like that all day.”

    “Why? Don’t they have better things to do?”

    Peter leaned conspiratorially toward her. “They don’t really have a choice. They’re actually in Hell. God doesn’t like being told what to think.”

    The other was the (in)famous Bloom County series where Bill the Cat becomes Oral Bill, televangelist, and who makes a LOT of money by claiming that the sooner you gave him all your cash, the sooner God “called home” Falwell, Jim Baker, and some other nutball evangelist.

    Great stuff….

  5. It appears Phelps, et al will be protesting Falwell’s funeral since Falwell was, according to their website, someone who “praised Christ-rejecting Jews, pedophile-condoning Catholics, money-grubbing compromisers, practicing fags like Mel White, and backsliders like Billy Graham and Robert Schuler, etc.”

    Who knew.

  6. In contrast, Soulforce (group founded by the aforementioned Mel White) sent out an e-mail (I’m a donor, so I’m on the list) to observe Falwell’s passing and “offer our sincere condolences to his family, the members of Thomas Road Baptist Church, and the students at Liberty University.” It was a nice bit of Christian charity that generally seems quite elusive.

    Of course, it mentioned the direct actions that Soulforce had taken against Jerry Falwell Ministries but drew a distinction, saying that it was action against misinformation and not Falwell himself. Mel White (who ghost wrote two books for Falwell before coming out) was quoted as saying “It breaks my heart to think that Jerry died without ever discovering the truth about God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children. I sincerely hope that one day his school and his church will have a change of heart.”

    Have to stay on message, after all.