I'm not sad Falwell's gone

I remember a maxim one of my religion professors — more ill than any of us late teen scholars knew — offered the class before the lecture started. In so many words: It’s a sin to wish someone dead, but you can enjoy some obituaries more than others. He died at the end of the quarter and was remembered as a wise and (in his private life) faithful man.

Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. Isa. 62:11.

Work indeed. That cuts both ways.

I’m glad Jerry Falwell isn’t here to cause me more harm. I won’t weep for him or roll out some pious regret. I don’t believe Falwell’s defenders about how nice a guy he was when you got to know him: I knew him as a public figure and that’s where he did his damage to the fabric of Christian faith and the Republic.

How does this square with my theology? I’m not a Universalist because I have a glowing and sunny opinion of human nature; indeed, I have a rather grim opinion of human nature and celebrate acts of selflessness and good as accomplishments, whether by cultivated character or an immediate response to circumstances. I also glory in God who’s better — and ultimately more hopeful — than I.

So I don’t mourn Falwell, but neither do I curse him. I think Michelle Murrain is right in asking for silence, and at that I’ll close.

One Reply to “I'm not sad Falwell's gone”

  1. There is a tendency to rewrite history once someone dies. We saw this, for example, when Gerald Ford died–suddenly his pardon of Nixon, instead of being a travesty of justice, was hailed as a “healing” act.

    A lot of liberals are showing a lot more kindness towards Falwell than he ever showed towards his own objects of hatred. He needs to be held responsible for his acts, and dying doesn’t absolve him of that. If he had repented of his past before he died, like George Wallace did, I would be more forgiving.

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