I haven't been sure how to respond to the Reverend Falwell's death. He has been a man who has had a massive impact on public life in America. In my opinion, most of his impact has been negative. But I think it unlikely that I will be called on to give a eulogy at his funeral, so what I think isn't too important. Whatever, here it is anyway. I finally found the words to get close to what I feel.
The Newshour last night had someone who graduated from Falwell's Liberty University and spoke at length about what a truly fine person Rev. Falwell was in person, and how quick he was to offer a hug to so many. OK. I never knew him personally, and I doubt that he would even allow me to walk on the said-to-be-beautiful campus of his Liberty University. I knew (know?) his through his works as reported by the media. Since he made his bones through his Television activities, followed by his establishment and operation of the organization he called the "Moral Majority." (See also Wikipedia on the "Moral Majority.") my reaction to his death is based on those activities.
Rick Perlstein today writes about his public works, and his writing in fact matches my memories quite well. Rick begins with the rather shocking statement "He was, of course, a monster." and then he goes on to present his (strong) evidence for that statement.
As I say, I know Rev. Falwell through his public works and not as a living person. I can accept that in his personal life he was (as attested) a really fine, warm, and loving human being. I offer my sympathies to those close to him for their loss. But I judge his worth only through his most public works. Those are what matter to most of us.
Based on his public works, I am glad he is no longer with us. I certainly don't think he spoke or acted well for organized religion, and his incursion into politics has helped to bring much of the worst side of the American character into a leadership positions in both the Republican Party and in the governmental structures of America.
Perhaps with his demise, the rest of us can begin to recover and look to the better aspects of America.