Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On Falwell

As most people know, Jerry Falwell died yesterday.

I would not have found this subject worthy of comment in this blog, if it weren't for the fact that I've read more than one post, from Pagan bloggers who usually know better, who've reported this with a smug or even gleeful tone.

Needless to say, I'm unlikely to have been a fan of the man from Lynchburg, a man who said of September 11, 2001, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

But that is just not the point.

I really wanted not to write this entry. I have been hoping that, if I just ignored it, perhaps no one outside the Pagan community would read any of the blog entries that have depressed me this morning. But this willingness to try and score cheap points over the death of another human being... This is just not right.

You don't like the politics of the right wing of Christian fundamentalism, oh my people? Attack the politics. But not the man. An attack on a person does nothing to counter an idea... it just raises the volume on the discussion.

Intolerance of Christians--even Christians who are intolerant of us--is still wrong.

Everybody, please stop.


Erik said...

To be fair, there have also been a number of thoughtful posts on the subject - Wild Hunt and Sannion leap to mind.

Walhydra said...


I agree with you.

What's more, I remember that Rev. Falwell was moved to acknowledge, late in his life, that gayfolk ought to have civil rights, even though he did not approve of us morally.

I said a blessing for him when I heard of his death, affirming that he has moved on to a peace he did not seem to know here.

Blessed Be,
Michael BrightCrow

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

I'm pleased to read a much more compassionate and grounded response than some over on Deborah Oak's Branches Down. Of course, that's not entirely a surprise, coming from Deborah Oak... She's marvelous!

Carol Maltby said...

A moment's reflection upon the goings-on of the past two millennia might remind us that dying doesn't necessarily stop a person's influence.

Rich in Brooklyn said...

I had not noticed this post about Falwell's death until today.

Like you, I rejected and abhorred the public positions he took on social issues. I also felt, as a Christian, that he was seriously misrepresenting and causing scandal to the Christian gospel.

Nevertheless, I very much agree with you that rejoicing at his or any person's death (whether done by a pagan or a Christian or a totally non-religious person) or using the death to score cheap points is "just not right".

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

In some ways, I can imagine that the public presence of Christians like Jerry Falwell is as painful to many Christians--especially Quaker Christians, perhaps--as certain less savory Pagans are to me.

I still remember an old friend who grew up near Salem, Massachusetts, who told me that the only place she ever tucked her pentacle away, out of sight, was in that town, where the presence of so many self-promoting, kohl-eyed Witches in black simply embarassed her into the closet.

Sometimes, it's our theoretical allies who cause us the most pain...

Thanks for stopping by, Rich. (And I'm pleased to note that you've been posting to Brooklyn Quaker lately--you've been missed!)

david said...

How do.

As a christocentric type Quake I wasn't all that impressed with Falwell's politics/religion either. The Christian term for it is heresy: twisting the teaching of the faith so that people thing wrong is right and up is down.

But hating him for it really is beside the point. If he taught hatred, and I hate him for it -- what am I? And what would Jesus do? And the Christ Spirit in me knows the answer to those questions and so do I.

But more to the point, its wasted energy. Falwell was a teacher and preacher, which means if he did harm its because people listened, and people listened because what he said spoke to them at some level. Its not Falwell, but the spirit he spoke for, that spoke through him, and resonated in so many hearts.

Hating him, is rather like stamping on one termite when your whole house is infested. It may make you feel good in the moment but it hardly addresses the issue.

Bernulf said...

"If he taught hatred, and I hate him for it -- what am I?"

- A lamentably good student.

Cat, I enjoyed reading this post of yours - you echoed the very same reasons I chose not to write about him or his death, and I think you make a very good point when you remind everyone to keep the focus on the politics and the ideas, rather than on personal attacks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cat. - Stasa

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