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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
So, it's all over my friendslist.

Jerry Falwell is dead.

And my feelings are complex. I did NOT like the man or much of what he stood for. I think he did a great deal of damage to American politics, and may have paved the way for the current administration (although he may also have just ridden a cultural wave.) And things he said were prejudiced and ugly. (The antigay stuff is known. He also said once that he agreed with the guy who said that Gd does not hear the prayers of Jews.) I cannot mourn his passing, although I do feel for his family and friends.

However. Whatever influence he had was pretty well past. Others who shared his views, or even more reactionary views, have long taken his place in the national dialogue. He became more of a symbol of ridicule than anything else. And I can't rejoice in anyone's death. Not even of one I do not like.

Comments

Well said.

Thank you.

Of course he believed that Gd doesn't answer Jews' prayers, any more than He answers those of any non-Xian – no path to the Father except through the Son and all that. That's no surprise, and I don't see why anyone should be offended by it. But he also sincerely believed that Gd loves Jews – even stubborn unbelieving Jews – more than He loves anyone else, and that "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you" is just as true now as it was when Gd said it to Abraham. He was a genuine philosemite, and I do mourn his passing.

Falwell was clearly pro-Israel.

Pro-Israel and philo-semitic are, sadly, not always the same thing. Falwell's position on Jews as opposed to Israel was not as clear.

That Falwell was very strongly pro-Israel, I understand. I just read a chapter in David New's book "Holy War" on "Jerry and the Jews" (you can find it on Google Books, that's where I read it) that strongly describes the pro-Israel positions Falwell held. A strong Israel is a strong America, and such like.

New does not, however, reall say much about Falwell's attitude towards Jews as Jews. As with ybl"ch the President, Falwell's support for Israel grows out of his belief that Israel must be a reality for the return of their messiah figure. He said as much explicitly at a breakfast with Jimmy Carter in 1979. Naturally, he holds the Antichrist will be a Jew.

So was he truly philosemitic? or simply what they call "Christian Zionist"?

Either way, he certainly was pro-Israel, and that part of his life, at least, should be celebrated - we lost a friend in the Christian corner.



New may not say much about his attitude to Jews qua Jews, but Falwell himself wrote about it, and the word from the horse's mouth is that his attitude was based on "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you". He believed that God loves an unrepentant, unbelieving, Hell-bound Jew more than He does a gentile saint, and will reward those who help them. Of course, according to that theory, the greatest help one can give a Jew is to convert him and thus save him from Hell, but any lesser help is also appreciated and rewarded by his Father.

That kind of help I don't need, and is part of why I don't see him as a philosemite, unless one defines "love" as "want to make him xtian". One quickly learns in a loving relationship that one has to accept the other person for who they are - trying to change them is ultimately frustrating for both parties.

It seems there's a distinction between what he describes as
a) God's love for Jews and
b) a Christian's attitude towards Jews.

E.g.,

While I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel and dearly love the Jewish people and believe them to be the chosen people of God, I continue to stand on the foundational biblical principle that all people -- Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc. -- must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven.
-Jerry Falwell
(apparently in response to the widespread claim that he had accepted the idea the Jews can enter Heaven unconverted)

The guy was a Christian minister, and can hardly be faulted for holding true to the fundamentals of his faith. By the same token, those fundamentals are inherently anti-Jewish. The best I can say is that

a) he loved Israel as a political entity, and as a prerequisite for the End of Days;

b) he loved the Jewish people in the sense of hate the sin love the sinner;

c) he believed that God loves the Jews, even if He doesn't hear our prayers, and how one can hold that position is beyond me, but it's what he has said;

d) he felt that Jews, Muslims, etc. must convert, and converting them was the best thing that could happen to them.

So his position on Jews and Israel was nuanced, and shaped by his faith. That doesn't make him a "true philosemite", but it does make him a generous Christian leader.

YMMV. To thine own self be true, and all that.

Suppose someone has an adult son with cancer, who refuses to get chemotherapy, relying instead on laetrile or homeopathy or some other quack remedy that won't work. Unless he changes his minds he's going to die, and his stubborn refusal saddens the parents, but it doesn't make them love him any less. Nor does it make them appreciate any less those who helps him, or be any less angry with those who harms him. Even if he's decided in his paranoia that his parents hate him and are trying to poison him with their evil allopathic medicine, and refuses to take their calls, they still love him and hope that someone will manage to help him.

Now the greatest help one could give him would be to convince him to take the chemo; if someone did that the parents would be grateful for eternity. But suppose you don't see any hope of that happening, and are afraid to even broach the subject for fear that he'll regard you as his parents' henchman sent to poison him, and refuse to have anything to do with you. Wouldn't you still want to do him other favours, things that won't stop him dying but will make his remaining days a little happier? Don't you think his parents will be grateful for any little thing you manage to do for him, any help you convince him to accept, even if it does nothing to save his life?

As for God not hearing the prayers of non-Xians, suppose this child insists on communicating with his parents telepathically and refuses to pick up the phone. They haven't heard from him in years. Does that make them stop loving him?

Now look at it from the opposite perspective. Suppose you once were having pancakes and said "I think I'll have two more", and a dim-witted friend thought you said "I think I have a tumour". From that moment this fellow gives you no rest, trying to persuade you to get treated for your non-existent tumour. He's convinced that if you remain in denial you will die a horrible death. Does he not love you? Is he not trying to do the right thing?

Now suppose he's given up on convincing you. He accepts that you're just going to have to die of your disease, because you refuse treatment. He's still your friend, and will still do you favours and try to make your life easier, all the while shaking his head at your stubbornness.

I admit that my own gut reaction to the news was less that perfectly Christian. Rejoice in his death, no, but that he can lie about me and mine no more? Well, yes.

I have to disagree with you slightly on one point: "The evil that men do live after them." Yes, the movement he founded had pretty much left him behind, but he made its current even more pernicious form possible.

But I believe in a loving and forgiving G-d (as I hope to be forgiven myself), so I accept the possibility that even Jerry Falwell could be admitted to Heaven.

I also believe that if he is there, he's EXTREMELY surprised at who else is.

Yeah, he might be.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Friendslocked.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I like that.

So do I. I think I'll go do that little thing as soon as my next check comes in.

What surprised me about JF dying is that Tammy Faye has outlived him, and from all reports, she is on her death bed.

She is? Oh, that's very sad.

The doctors have stopped her cancer treatments and she weighs only 65 pounds now, but she hasn't lost hope and faith in God.