"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, May 17, 2007

J. Falwell, R.I.P.

I shall miss Falwell, altho as Mike D'Virgilio notes below, not as much as the anti-religious---specifically the anti-Christian---left will. He made some rhetorical blunders (the worst of which he apologized for, but that's of no concern to the Jacobins), but was undoubtedly instrumental in realigning Christianity politically, from FDR communitarianism (read materialism and the Enlightenment's "relief of man's estate") to the reembrace of personal virtue, without which a republic cannot survive.

The founders of the American republic and their dear Mr. John Locke were quite sanguine with Christianity (specifically non-miraculous Jesusian principles) as their nation's foundation. FDR didn't have to deal with the decay of virtue that modernity ushered in during the latter half of the 20th century. Order and societal cohesion gave way to the language of "rights."

But the Founders wouldn't have been particularly concerned with Rev. Jerry. Falwell's wildest statements were coherent with even theological outliers like Tom Paine and that notorious sybarite Jefferson, both of whom accepted a Providential God (and Who conforms most closely to the Judeo-Christian one above all others), and Who favored the virtuous and allowed the wicked to fall from His favor.

Jefferson himself suspected that the young republic might soon be punished for its toleration of the "peculiar institution." The punishment, if it was such, was grave indeed, today commonly called The Civil War. We can say that even Rev. Falwell's opportunistic/inopportune statement about 9-11 being a result of the United States' fall from virtue isn't terribly out of line with even the most skeptical of the Founders. Go figure.

Jerry Falwell was unsophisticated to be sure, and the moderns will miss kicking him to the curb, since he was pretty easy pickin's. Dear Mr. Locke may not prove to be such a cakewalk, because when one speaks of America, one cannot push him out of the way, one must go through him.

Unless one chooses a path through the gutter, of course. Jerry Falwell would have liked that linked essay, I think, and so, R.I.P. In the end, his public life (not his ministry, which never made the papers) wasn't about Trinitarianism or heaven or hell. It was about virtue.

I'm out on a limb here, but I think even Jefferson would have found some sort of good word to say about him. Certainly George Washington would've:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports...[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.---Farewell Address, 1796



The Rev. Falwell has passed from the scene. His Bible, John Locke, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson have not. The dialogue, and the inquiry, sustain. We cannot relieve man's estate while ignoring his soul.

2 comments:

Pascal Fervor said...

My Dad, who passed away 15 months ago, considered Jerry Falwell a decent man.

My Dad was Salesmanager of a NYC firm that had its main factory in Lynchburg. When Falwell first came to prominence I had asked Dad if he'd run across him. He had. He'd spoken with him a few times.

Some background.
Dad was a hard nosed businessman a proud atheist, and with rare exceptions, tended to vote Democratic despite his mostly conservative nature in everything else. He also was an exceptional judge of character, which served him well throughout his life.

Dad thought of Falwell as okay because, unlike others he had to deal with, Falwell never tried to pull any stunts to wangle donations from him even though a good number of factory workers were of his church. Now, maybe the business owner paid over something (he was not stingy and he didn't like trouble). But if Dad had caught wind of anything fishy -- and there wasn't much that he ever missed, as his much slower son often marveled -- he would not have told me that for a clergyman, Falwell was alright.

I'm telling you, for my Dad to say that was high praise indeed.

The Left is simply unhinged.

Surprised?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Put a cross on anything and they'll look to nail you to it.

Interesting story. I for one won't miss Falwell as the media's go-to guy to explain Christian theology, but this flawed man did a very good thing in standing up to the modernists, for whom the perfect society is only one more anthropological survey and a law away.