Friday, May 18, 2007

When I think of Jerry Falwell, I feel sad

Not about his death. I mean, not that it makes me happy. I'm just not mourning him.

But I feel sad about the person he was. Because I grew up surrounded by Jerry-Falwell-wannabes. People who I genuinely feel were good at heart, but were so sheltered, and so devoid of spiritual curiosity, that they were willing to go along with a lot of hate. Without even thinking about it.

Like my high school principal, who helped me out in some ways, but who, when I told him about my new boyfriend, joked, "Is he black?"* (Because the worst thing a good little white girl could do was date someone of color.)

Like one of my college boyfriends (whom I went to high school with), who got back in touch with me a couple of years ago. After the initial catching up, he delved into my UUism and touted Pascal's wager as to why I should be a Christian. (Because why else would you have religion unless it were from fear?)

Like the members of the Big Church in our community who all showed up to support my high school drama teacher at his termination appeal. He was terminated for various appropriate reasons, one being his proclivity for taking the Bible and using it to explain to male students why a girl shouldn't do certain things to them, but it was just fine if he did. His church members supported him, because he was a Good Christian Man and couldn't have done anything wrong, rather than consider that gee, if he did these things, maybe he wasn't such a Good Christian Man. And proceeded to give threatening looks to those of us who testified. And bricks through house windows. And other Good Christian Behavior. (Okay, so that was a little snarky.)**

But I do feel sad. For all those Jerry Falwell hurt. For all those, like many of the people I grew up around, who felt that his words justified any prejudices they had. People who probably would have had a bit of guilt nibbling away at them, except that here was someone who said they were right -- and righteous -- to feel that way.

* I did take some pleasure innocently answering, No, but he's Jewish. Which he was.
** He wasn't fired for this, but I think it's funny/sad: he wouldn't let us start up a chapter of the International Thespian Society, because it rhymed with "Lesbian." I can't make this stuff up, folks!


Every 7th Day said...

Thanks, LE. I've known a few people who felt that his ministry helped the, but I've known hundreds who've been verbally attacked by him and his followers. Doesn't jive with my understanding of the Gospels, either. Thanks for your illustrations.

In the spirit of dangerous rhyme I'll worn the church quilters off of "Groovy Stitches" and the finance committee off anything that rhymes with greed. And be careful, because Lizard Eater rhymes with Wizard feeder, Gizzard needer, and Blizzard teeter.

Livery Heaven's Way

Nancy said...

Personally, I couldn't stomach the man. My husband's family is very fundamental, and some of the things that come out of their mouths make them look simply idiotic. Being around them makes me feel very bitter and judgmental, and I have to watch myself and my attitude. It shouldn't be that way. Love should be the #1 priority.

PeaceBang said...

You know, I've never thought Pascal's Wager was based on fear, but of course it is. I always thought of it in mystical terms, as in "Who knows, so why not?"
But you're right: it was a precaution against hell.