Wednesday, May 16, 2007


For some reason, Marley's in my head right now, as stories of deaths play their way across the wire.

I remember, when we used to sit
in a government yard in trenchtown
Oba-observing the hypocrites
As they mingle with the good people we meet.

Jerry Falwell is dead at 73. His is a death that will be made to matter far more than it actually does. It is a shame to see so much vitriol and so much celebration over this man's passing. He was not a demon, or an evil person. He was just a man, who unfortunately found his voice and his passion dividing rather than uniting, and who made his living by playing to some of the basest natures of those he spoke to. Among my people, the Americans and the Southerners, he sold only the externalization of religion; among people of my faith, the Christians, he sold only discord and the mixed message of a vengeful savior instead of the humble meaning of reconciliation. He made a fine living, selling these things, and we are worse off for those of our families and friends who bought into his market. This is a world that needs far less vengeance and far more reconciliation.

But it is the baser natures of our being that deserve the vitriol, for that is what he fed from. It is a shame that someone with such a voice would prefer to drink from the trough instead of the chalice, but he is drinking from that chalice now, and he is weeping. My faith, as beautiful and irrational as it is, tell me that he will be welcomed into the everlasting kingdom, that my savior and his will hold him close as he relives his life's failings and sees the damage done in the name of God, he will see from afar the circus that his death has become to the world, and he will be ashamed. He will know then that he is not worthy of forgiveness, he is not worthy to drink from the chalice, but he will be invited to anyway.

He will then be welcomed across the threshold of the kingdom, and the first ones he sees there will be the ones he has wronged, the families broken and only united on the other side of that threshhold, those he has offended and those he has betrayed. They will dry his tears and offer embraces, and then he will see the face of the Lord, and he will know the true nature of forgiveness, unity and reconciliation that he has known of but never known.

I know this will happen the same way I know that I will become wet if I were to go wading in the river, because that is how it will happen to me.

Good friends we've had
Good friends we've lost
Along the way.
In this great future you can't forget your past.
So dry your tears, I say

If there were justice inherent in the world, the Rev. Falwell's death would not be making headlines. It would not be broadcast on all news outlets and radio channels, and not many would speak so ill of it. He has lived his life, for good or ill, to the fulfillment of his potential.

If there were justice inherent in the world, it would be this death that would make the headlines. It would be this story that was told, as Leigh tells it, and the story would revolve around those gossamer ropes we all sever with time and wish we didn't. We would all value just a little more how special and fragile our lives are, and maybe we would make an effort to do just a little better tomorrow, and to be a little easier on ourselves and those around us.

It is a shame that someone would take their own life at such a time, and such a thing devestates those left behind and leaves those who loved and who lost him weeping, as he too is weeping. My faith, as beautiful and irrational as it is, tells me that he will be welcomed into the everlasting kingdom, that his father who preceeded him will meet him before the gates and together they will say their goodbyes to dreams deferred and things left unsaid and all the regrets that come from lives left unlived. They will also be eased of the burdens that weighed so heavily upon their shoulders, as the world drove them down to a point from which they were unable to return.

They will then be welcomed across the threshold of the kingdom, and the first ones they see there will be the others who have been unable to bear this burden, this apocalyptic ending of the world that so many have been unable to fight through. There they will dry their tears, bind up their wounds and clothe them in the finest robes. A feast is prepared from the fatted calf, as another prodigal has found his way home from the wilderness. And there they will be at the house of the Lord, and they will know the true nature of unfathomable understanding, and make to prepare the table for those they left behind, and dry those tears shed for them on that day when their loved ones meet them again.


Meredith said...

"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10

Dante said...

"Between grief and nothing... I'll take grief." Ed Rooney

liberalandproud said...

Pat, that is the best thing I've come across, written or spoken about Falwell's death. Best. Post. Ever.

Leigh C. said...

Coozan, you've done more than all the media outlets have: you've given Falwell back a little of his humanity without diminishing his impact, harmful as it was. He wouldn't have had so much power if people didn't let him into their lives like they did.

I thank you for the healing words and thoughts. I, too, hope that H. will see his father again.