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Grave Dancing

An interview of Christopher Hitchens given to CNN on the death of Jerry Falwell. I take some issue with it, but take a look first.

I’m not so sure that Falwell wasn’t sincere in his beliefs in primitive superstition and an imaginary friend. As a teenager and young adult, I watched Falwell and others like him very closely, went to a college for a year at a place much like Liberty University, et cetera. There’s a hypothesis I have some sympathy for: that it’s impossible for someone (like the pope, for instance), to be stupid enough to really believe all that childish rubbish and create the kind of success they do in building and managing huge organizations. They must just be really good cons. Kind of a Man Behind the Curtain, only out in front.

I never bought into that completely, and mostly because it’s impossible to prove unless they confess. And, why wouldn’t they? If they derive pleasure and satisfaction from the con, then eventually their ego must demand that everyone know just how good they were.

I’ve a better theory, kind of like the Bigger Fool Theory. Religious leaders are sincere fools, and it works only because there’s no shortage of bigger fools that will follow, i.e., so foolish that they can’t even capitalize and profit from their primitive delusions. Indeed, in my observation regarding fundamentalist baptist churches, there’s the few "rock stars" that do very well, those who are always trying to be one, but never can, and most everyone else just gets poorer and poorer in life. They go from one life crisis and failure to another. Some fortunate ones eventually distance themselves (or give it the big middle finger, like me) and almost immediately begin seeing improvements in their lives in terms of finances, relationships, and happiness.

It’s good that fools like Falwell are dropping dead, but there’s plenty just waiting to take their place. Who better to lead fools, than fools?

As a bonus, here’s more Hitchens on Falwell.

The discovery of the carcass of Jerry Falwell
on the floor of an obscure office in Virginia has almost zero
significance, except perhaps for two categories of the species labeled
"credulous idiot." The first such category consists of those who
expected Falwell (and themselves) to be bodily raptured out of the
biosphere and assumed into the heavens, leaving pilotless planes and
driverless trucks and taxis to crash with their innocent victims as
collateral damage. This group is so stupid and uncultured that it may
perhaps be forgiven. It is so far "left behind" that almost its only pleasure is to gloat at the idea of others being abandoned in the same condition.

You’ll have to read the article to discover the second such category.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

1 Comment

  1. Kyle Bennett on May 17, 2007 at 15:45

    Another theory is that the kind of intelligence needed for manipulating people is not diminished by, and in fact may be enhanced by, the absence of the kind of intelligence that sees contradictions as a problem.

    That would cover both the case where he was lying, and the case where he really believed it.

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