Thursday, March 20, 2014

Choose Love: A Prayer for the Passing of Fred Phelps

I met with a local high school's GSA a week or two ago, and was talking about what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.  I believe that even Biblical literalists are choosing what parts of the Bible they take literally and currently and what parts they choose to understand either as metaphor or as written for a certain historical context.  Even the fundamentalists don't follow all of the purity laws.  And they're choosing to place emphasis on the passages that judge over the passages that preach love and forgiveness.  Given that you have to pick and choose, the question really is why some people choose to pick hate.  I said, "I choose to pick love."

The hard part about choosing love is the same as the hard part of believing in the inherent worth and dignity of all people and the hard part of believing in universal salvation.  The hard part of choosing love is applying it to someone you see as having chosen a path of hatred and pain.  

Today we've heard that Fred Phelps died last night.  Fred Phelps was a person who made it his mission to choose hate.  He carried signs proclaiming hate, he picketed funerals proclaiming hate, he built a church to spread his hate.  There are people wanting, understandably, to celebrate his death and to picket his funeral.  It's hard not to have sympathy for that perspective.  Fred Phelps spread a lot of hate and pain during his life, and the cessation of that message being spread by him feels like it must be a good. 

The struggle in the face of the death of Fred Phelps is to remember his inherent worth and dignity, to believe in his salvation, and to choose love in the face of his hate even now.

Here's my prayer:

Spirit of Life,
May Fred Phelps, child of the universe, be at peace.
May his family be at peace and come to know love.
May the world heal from the hate that was sown.
May we all choose love in increasing measure. 
Blessed be.  Amen.