Friday, May 18, 2007

"Traumatize the little children to come unto me..."

Much has been made of the passing of Jerry Falwell this week. Like most self-respecting gay men, I'm not all that sorry that he's gone.* He spent most of his life demonizing and marginalizing people like me. His words encouraged legions of wrong-headed, rabid, nasty right-wing "Christians" to beat us, murder us and deny us our rights. And he was curiously silent about the hypocrisy of it all. But he sure wasn't at a loss for words after 9/11, when he pointed his fat finger at us and said we were responsible. I think that's when he officially tipped over into the Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Zone.

Now, I wasn't a fan of Falwell's, but he and his followers never frightened me. I lived through a lot as a little Catholic boy, let me tell you! I survived it very well, thanks--I even enjoyed a lot of my childhood. But I was born the way I am. And if I was ever "on the fence," my childhood would certainly have knocked me right off. Look at the church I was baptized in, for Christ's sake:

Who wouldn't turn out gay after they spent the first 12 years of their life in a church with a big penis on top??

I dipped my finger in many a cruet of communion wine when nobody was looking. And I still fondly remember the tornado drills we had in my Catholic school (not pictured here, because it was behind the Big Penis) in the 70s. (Since there was no basement, I can say that our drills consisted of a "crouch and pray" process, especially in the gym with the big glass skylights).

Furthermore, how could I possibly be afraid of Falwell, Pat Robertson and their ilk, when I spent four years with the folks below?

We're not talking televangelism here. No simple 45 minutes of speaking in tongues and wearing ugly polyester for US. We're talking about a daily mindf*ck that lasted an hour a day from 1976 to 1980. Religion class. Taught by Sister Bernice, or as I knew her, Sister Bernice of the Bad Breath.

Of all the teachers we had, Sister Bernice was the craziest. With the perpetually wide eyes of a herion addict, the aforementioned breath, which smelled like a farm during sowing season (and you know what that means), and a quiet, intense voice stolen straight from Piper Laurie in Carrie, Sister B. began our every day with religion class. Yep. Fire and brimstone, first thing in the morning, right after the PA announcements informed us we were having fish sticks for lunch. Being an academically underachieving child (who spent way too much time watching "Maude"), religion class was an uphill climb. I was slow to understand the concept of venial vs. mortal sin. But I understood yardsticks. And Sister B. had a big one.

Besides her breath, how could I describe Sister B.? You remember that episode of "The Little Rascals" where the two midget thieves are dressed up as babies to gain entry into houses, where they steal silverware and valuables? Well, Sister B. looked like the little one with the scrunched-up face. With that personality and that face, her options were few: she was too old to date Tom Cruise, so besides Holy Orders, she really only had the option of opening a motorcycle shop, driving a truck, or running a tattoo parlor.

So, with that kind of conditioning, who would be afraid of a pudgy, doddering, grey-skinned old man who didn't even have a yardstick?

*AUTHOR'S NOTE: And by the way, don't bother telling me how Falwell was a "child of God" whom we should be "trying to forgive" and whom "God loves as he loves all of us," blah, blah, blah. Eat my shorts. I'm sure he's got people rolling down the aisles in his own church doing that a-plenty. I'll pass. I'm not celebrating his death, but I'll be dipped in piss if I'm going to feel guilty, either.

Have a great weekend!


Blogger Jason Falls said...

My Dad and other family members live about 10 minutes from Falwell's church. He's bullied his community for years, too, getting tax breaks and other nonsensical measures to help build his empire of fear. The Falls kin didn't much care for the good Reverend and neither did I.

Like you, I won't celebrate someone's death, but it appears the world is a little closer to being that compassionate haven of love, forgiveness and understanding he always preached about now that he's gone.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

I can see the picture of Paris Hilton but not the pictures of this latest Blog. Maybe Falwell put a curse on them. LOL. It is probably something I'm doing wrong. I know very little about these newfangled machines called computers. Back in my day we would say to Jerry Falwell, "If God loved a liar he'd squeeze you to death." I liked Uncle George on the little rascals he would chase the kids and say, "Eat um up!" Sombody sent my mother a picture of Spanky Macfarland and said did you know that this is Robert Blake? I told her No it is Spanky, Robert Blake was Mickey. I grew up on this stuff. (explains a lot, huh?)

10:53 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Jason: My thoughts exactly. It also seems to be the thoughts of a lot of other folks in my community (except for the other touchy-feely, "come-on-now-let's-all-be-nice" New Agey ones who seem to eat guilt like potatoes). There are always going to be right-wing religious charlatans, but not all have done the damage he did, and most of them are obviously laughable, because even THEY don't really believe what they say--it's like a self-parody. Falwell was a lil' too dogmatic for comfort. (And yes, the religious leaders are always the biggest bullies in their communities, it seems--except in Chicago--that would be the mayor.) I think everyone's threatened by each other's differences, but there's no need--let's face it, there have always been those differences, and we've always survived it. So yes, hopefully, we've come a step closer to "getting it."

Ed: Sorry about the pictures...not sure what's up with the links. My computer does that sometimes, too, then later on they're fine. Strange! Yes, Robert Blake was Mickey--you know your Little Rascals trivia! In fact, Blake's real name is Mickey Gubitosi (the Rascals went by their real first names or nicknames). Poor Stymie! :-)

1:03 AM  

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