The Danville (VA) Register and Bee, the newspaper of record in my current city of abode, plastered the following headline on today’s front page:
HE IS EVERYWHERE
The “HE” of that headline is Reverend Jerry Falwell who lived – and died, in one of life’s little symmetries – in the city of Lynchburg, VA, about 60 miles directly north of here if you drive up US 29. This region – Southside Virginia – is one of the most conservative in not just this state, but in the entire US. And Falwell was a heroic figure to many here.
One story amid the plethora of coverage the Register and Bee has offered about Falwell is a “local connection” story about Falwell’s numerous visits to the “Dan River region” (Danville lies on the banks of the Dan River which serves as part of the border between VA and NC). As one would expect, Falwell led revivals, preached weddings and funerals, and spoke as commencement speaker at Christian schools in the area.
In fact, it’s commencement speaking that allows us to see Falwell passing along some of his wisdom – if it can be called that – to dewy eyed graduates on their way to evangelical bastions of learning like Bob Jones University, Pat Robertson’s Regent University, or Falwell’s own Liberty University. Falwell told the students of Westover Christian Academy that the REAL challenge they would face would be building strong Christian families and remaining faithful to Christ in the new millenium:
“The challenge you face is more severe than that faced by your parents or grandparents,” he told them.
Falwell also warned the students about false challenges they would be told about:
“You will be told global warming is a challenge,” Falwell said. “That’s a myth. There’s a God in Heaven who made everything there is.”
What to make of this?
Well, the admonition to the kids to lead Christian lives is entirely dependent on his – and their – interpretations of what a “Christian” life is. That’s open to discussion, but it’s not irresponsible.
But telling kids that global warming is a myth? And that it’s just part of God’s plan? That’s either a) irresponsible; b) delusional; or c) apocalyptic code talk. Probably all three. There’s a holy trinity for you….
There’s a lot of hagiographic journalism drifting past me in these days directly after Falwell’s death. I’m even hearing vague allusions to him as a saint.
But any guy who’d purposely misinform young people about a danger to their futures like global warming is no saint.
And I suspect the aforementioned He (Falwell) is having to do some explaining to do to the other He or She for this – and other indiscretions.