Friday, May 18, 2007

rolling over

the death of jerry falwell dominated the news this week. despite stating early in his career as a preacher that he abhorred the idea of mixing the affairs of religion and the affairs of state, falwell went on and created the moral majority, which became THE conservative political movement of the late 1970s and 1980s. this movement, which to many of us was NEITHER, helped catapult fundamentalist christian concerns into the heart of american politics. because of the likes of falwell, american politics has been one surreal orgy of religious and political bedfellows. I believe this past week of praising falwell is yet another example our country's unique gift of revisionist history-making. I don't deny the fact that falwell was a powerful force in american politics but the type of intolerance he spouted on some level permanently smudged the lofty and noble word/concept 'christian.' at the height of falwell's fame (infamy?) I used to remark that folks like falwell calling themselves christian and their views christian, would have jesus rolling in his grave, if he was in one!

alas along with revisionist history-making another wonderful trait of today's america seems to be cultural amnesia. hello, does anyone remember the type of things mr. falwell routinely said? here's a few if you your memory needs a jolt:

"If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

"The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior."

"It appears that America's anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men's movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening"

"The whole global warming thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability."

and least we forget his words following the 9-11 tragedy:

"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."

"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.'"

when I was a child I attended catholic school and my early years of religious instruction was 100% pure baltimore catechism (which emphasized memorizing 'key beliefs and principles'). many years and much personal searching, growth and transformation have passed between my days as a schoolgirl at st. ann's in memphis and today. however, many of the lessons from st. ann's about christianity and christian principles have been enduring touchstones. however, oddly the christian lessons and values I learned, hold dear and revere seem to be missing when I look at the concerns of american fundamentalists christians. when I consider what it means to be christian, I think of jesus' sermon on the mount (you know the where he proclaimed: 'blessed are the meek...blessed are the peacemakers...blessed are those that hunger and thirst for justice and so on and so forth); the golden rule 'thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' and the 'works of mercy' (give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, shelter the homeless, etc.). there's a wonderful bumper-sticker I saw a couple years ago it said: "When Jesus said love thy neighbor, he didn't mean to kill them"

okay I guess that's it for my 'rant' of the day. I don't want to come across as being unkind to rev. falwell (however I do have unkind thoughts about what he nurtured & left behind. I never wished the man ill; if he had ever visited me I'd be warm, gracious and give him something to eat and drink). it's sad when people die and at only 73 his death seems premature, I'm very sorry for all the grief his death sparked. my only hope is that the legacy of intolerance, self-righteousness, and the orgy of mixing 'religion' & politics' his movement and take on 'christianity' helped create in america would also rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

right on!

Anonymous said...