I remember a maxim one of my religion professors — more ill than any of us late teen scholars knew — offered the class before the lecture started. In so many words: It’s a sin to wish someone dead, but you can enjoy some obituaries more than others. He died at the end of the quarter and was remembered as a wise and (in his private life) faithful man.
Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. Isa. 62:11.
Work indeed. That cuts both ways.
I’m glad Jerry Falwell isn’t here to cause me more harm. I won’t weep for him or roll out some pious regret. I don’t believe Falwell’s defenders about how nice a guy he was when you got to know him: I knew him as a public figure and that’s where he did his damage to the fabric of Christian faith and the Republic.
How does this square with my theology? I’m not a Universalist because I have a glowing and sunny opinion of human nature; indeed, I have a rather grim opinion of human nature and celebrate acts of selflessness and good as accomplishments, whether by cultivated character or an immediate response to circumstances. I also glory in God who’s better — and ultimately more hopeful — than I.
So I don’t mourn Falwell, but neither do I curse him. I think Michelle Murrain is right in asking for silence, and at that I’ll close.