I couldn’t stand the man, although I admit my grudging admiration for some of the things he accomplished. He stood for some things that were right, and he stood for some things that were wrong, but at least in his public life he mostly stood up and yelled shrilly. For what it’s worth, I have the same tendencies. Speaking the truth in love is the damndest thing, and I frequently fall on one side or the other, and often enough fail at both. I suspect he was a great man, in both the great good and the great evil he accomplished. God grant him peace and eternal life. I hope and I pray that I am nothing like him, and I see every day how much I follow in his footsteps.
I’ll never admire him for his views or his opinions. To this day, I’m not sure if his television embrace was meant to mend fences, to show himself to the public as a generous and forgiving preacher or merely to make me uneasy, but the ultimate result was one I never expected and was just as shocking a turn to me as was winning that famous Supreme Court case: We became friends.
Bill Maher, Christopher Hitchens, and others may dance on the man’s grave all they want. As for me, I’ll try to meditate on the above articles — one by a favorite critic of mine and the other by an (in)famous pornographer — as well as scripture as I wrestle with my own reactions. Not just with regards to Falwell and his death, but towards death in general — seeing as how it’s decided to come inside, make itself comfortable, and take away one of mine this week.
Death lays us all low — it’s part of being in the brotherhood of man — and if nothing else, that should strike humility into our hearts even as we reach for the shovels, exhume the body, dissect the legacy, and lay out all that someone has done for the world to see, examine, judge, condemn, gloat over, celebrate, and decry.
Someday, the same will be done for the rest of us. And however justified it might be, however necessary it might be, it’s still a sobering thought.