There should be no joy in Kookville; they've lost one of the key villains in their diabolical theocracy conspiracy theories. And the liberal chattering class has lost one of its most dependable whipping boys.
I didn't agree with much of Falwell's teaching (particularly his traditional fundamentalist anti-gay positions) but I respected his desire to rid American culture of so much of its worthless garbage. It's also worth noting that Falwell never succumbed to the temptations of sex and money, which are the two things that seem to constantly plague religious celebrities.
Falwell was maligned for his statements that challenged the supremacy of secular and hedonistic ideals while promoting the supremacy of fundamentalist Christianity. But I don't think anything he ever said was comparable to the things that his enemies said about him.
HotAir blog notes that while trying to stumble through a live commentary about Falwell, an MSNBC info babe quoted a Fallwell "tribute" from Whitehouse.org, the notoriously mean-spirited anti-Bush parody website. What a bunch of maroons.
ADDED: More reactions -
- My friend Greg Horton at The Parish
- The Anchoress
- Huffington Post
- The Revealer
- The now notorious Christopher Hitchens hit piece in Slate
Perhaps Jerry Falwell's death most clearly illustrates how much America has changed in the last fifty years. Undoubtedly Jerry Falwell's fundamentalist Christianity still resonated with millions of Americans in the south, even as it infuriated big-city liberals. My parents belonged to Falwell's generation, and they used to watch The Old Time Gospel Hour regularly.
Falwell wasn't a freak. He was a man born in the south during the 1930's who, like millions upon millions of others, was shaped by the ideals of religious fundamentalism -- simplicity, stability, tradition, temperance, abstinence, and the wrath of God -- and troubled by the realization that the rest of the nation was evolving into a society that would soon reject those ideals. Like my parents, Falwell mourned the loss of the culture of the Old South and feared the arrival of the sexual revolution. Rightly or wrongly, he held firm to his old-fashioned beliefs, and as a result found himself completely at odds with contemporary postmodern culture.
Fallwell unapologetically preached fundamentalism from his pulpit, and in his public discourses he delighted in using heavy-handed Old Testament metaphors about the wrath of God. No one likes to be told that they are on the wrong side of God, and when his targets responded angrily, their venom served as an absolution of Falwell's rhetoric -- no good fundamentalist ever expects the non-elect to accept the judgment of God and willingly repent.
And while it can be honestly said that many of Falwell's bombastic rants were contrary to the spirit of the Gospel (along with his efforts to mix the Gospel with politics), it is worth remembering that at the same time, those who were the targets of Falwell's fury had also embarked upon a campaign to blame Christianity for all the ills that they perceived in the world.
Those who consider themselves smarter and more enlightened than Falwell insist that he was a hateful man who betrayed the Gospel. They are entitled to their opinions. Falwell was who he was, but whatever you think of him he was one of the most influential religious figures of the twentieth century.