Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crying for Fred Phelps.

The Rev. Fred Phelps is dying, excommunicated.

As one who looked him eye to eye, I have this compulsion to go to wherever they bury the now excommunicated from his own church, Rev. Fred Phelps, and just sit down and cry.

Hold a Lamentation. Maybe hold one for the whole world while I'm at it. But, specifically, to mourn the life that could have been, had he not had a particular obsession.

(If you're not familiar with this story, he's the "Baptist" minister from Kansas who first got attention by protesting at funerals of dead gay kids, which got him some press, but then moved on to funerals of veterans.)

How sad a life, to have been obsessed with this one thing - gay folk - to the point that it drove him spiritually insane. Training his kids in it.

And then, at the end, (as the story goes, though no one is talking on the record) when his "Church Board" suddenly turns on his hateful daughter, a thing he created, he suddenly cries out to them for kindness. 

But they, totally consistent with what he taught them, excommunicated him.

I wonder if, lying there by himself, he ponders whether the hatred he just saw directed at him -- no doubt couched in theological justification -- was the same that he directed at us, those '"fags" (the only term he would ever use)? And whether doing unto others as you would never want done to you is violation of everything Jesus ever taught. 

It's Shakepearean.

An entire Christian culture based on hate. Fascinating.

Sometimes, to us, the whole Christian world does look like that. Like they just can't be cruel enough. That they have to slap us and demean us. Have to shun. Have to make invisible.

But we know feelings aren't fact. Just because something feels a certain way doesn't mean it's the reality. I know a Christian world that totally embraces us. Fred Phelps may have been the id of the opposite of that world, the Christian Homophobics, but most Christians eventually turned away from him when he went after veterans.

Why did he hate veterans? Because they represented a government and a world that didn't hate "fags" hard enough. He was punishing them for not hating with the fervor that a "True Christian" would hate.  

Poor Fred dying alone and despised. Destined to burn in hell, by his own definition because he stupidly asked him own acolytes for kindness.

Fred, you don't get kindness when you teach that kindness is evil.

How utterly, utterly sad it all is.
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