I could never take you seriously when I was a Christian. The runny mascara as you wept for joy of your lord, and out of sadness for sinners was easy to mock, by me, by comedians, by my Christian friends. It didn’t help that you and Jim were at the top of the bucket, high above a lot of Christian crabs who ached to pull you back down.
Jim was corrupted by power and the crabs joyfully pulled him in. Even now, he seems to have returned to his old ways.
But lady, you had class.
You not only accepted the Gay community, you welcomed and supported them. You listened to them without judging. You declared HIV and AIDs to be a disease, not a judgment from God, and reached out to those who were infected at a time when other Christian leaders ran the other way. There are people that love you deeply for this – and it never bothered you that these people were Gay, Transsexual, or Drag Queen.
You were willing to poke fun at yourself. Appearing as the mother of Mimi Bobek on the Drew Carey Show showed that you understood how the world saw you, and that it didn’t bother you a bit.
I think you were deeply (if honestly) mistaken in many ways. I think you have increased suffering by endorsing the Biblical view of a woman’s ‘place’ in society. To quote Blaise Pascal:
“(People) never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
But you were real, and honestly forgiving. You seemed to care for others no matter what their social status was. King or crook, President or porn star – you gave everyone equal courtesy, concern, care and genuine warmth. Your example and legacy looks like it will continue in the loving acceptance displayed by your son and daughter.
I no longer agree or believe in the religion you stood for, and I think that Margaret Atwood pegged you rightly by basing her “Handmaiden’s Tale” character on you. But I think you handled your life with more grace than Serena Joy – you made it through the crimes of your ex husband, weathered the IRS, fought bravely against cancer and graciously failed to notice those who made fun of you.
You owned the phrase, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”.