I dreamed of Jerry Falwell last night, and I have no clue what exactly brought on his ephemeral visit in my sleep. Antibiotics aren’t normally known for their psychoactive properties, but maybe the stuff I’m taking for the strep that has left me with nothing more than a whisper of a voice for the past two days works a little differently. The power of the mind and all, you know.
In the dream, Falwell and I sipped coffee and munched on finger foods as he told me stories of how he knew my grandfather back when my grandfather went by Little Sam and was the featured singer of a traveling gospel group. While its true that my grandfather’s first name is Samuel (he's never gone by that name, though), he sings like a tone-deaf chicken laying an egg. Besides, my grandfather is supposedly older than Falwell, so it would have been difficult for him to have seen my oldest-living ancestor in his youth. Of course, maybe Falwell has earned the special privilege of time travel for his service to God, or maybe it’s one of the perks of being the Antichrist. We’ll never know.
Gradually the conversation turned from his perplexing connections to my past to my relationship with Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ™. Apparently, Old Jerry is an avid reader of this blog and was concerned to discover that I had fallen away from the faith and was no longer a true believer. That’s not so surprising. This is a very well-written and captivating blog and Falwell probably needs a good outlet for geeky humor after a day of red-faced outrage. It also makes sense that the founder of the Moral Majority would be concerned that I no longer really believed in his God.
No, the strange part of this dream was that Falwell and I spent an entire evening debating the virtues of faith and agnosticism, he throwing out Bible verses and anecdotes of disappearing cancers and jailhouse conversions while I mentioned my concerns with the veracity of a book written long after the death of the religion’s founder and the fact that for the most part we are followers of the religion we were raised to follow. Despite this quite contradictory set of opinions, not once did my disagreement provoke him to anger. I didn’t convince him to see things my way, and he didn’t budge me from my position either, but neither of us took offense at the other person’s disagreement. Falwell was obviously concerned for my soul, but he could take the conversation as a draw and move on secure in the fact that at least he tried. Actually, I think I would have been mortified had I actually caused him to lose faith. I’m far from an evangelical agnostic. I don’t care if someone follows in my footsteps, but I don’t want their deserting the faith to have been because of me. As for my side of the conversation, I quite enjoyed being able to have a lively little debate in which both sides left the living room perfectly happy in having enjoyed the discussion despite having agreed on nothing.
Of course I know this wasn’t the real Falwell. Jerry’s just too angry at the world and takes himself far too seriously to have managed even one expression of my doubt in his claims without experiencing a sharp rise in his blood pressure and being reduced a vitriolic diatribe about my lack of faith and my being a part of the problem of America’s descending moral character. It would have been fun had it been real, though.