Principalities and Powers
Well, God is in heaven and we all want what's his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is - Bob Dylan
You know Jack Kirby? Even if you don't, there's an old, rare interview with him here worth watching. Because Kirby, like few others, helped shape America's popular imagination. Which is, perhaps disturbingly so, the universe in which we often find ourselves.
"Everybody else had their gods," he asked. "What are ours?" Kirby made comic books, but he made them out of myth and religion. He found Galactus in the Bible, and Silver Surfer became his fallen angel. And though the costumes and the muscles may look absurd, his source materials were that which have made and broken civilizations. Which arguably, right there, is another absurdity.
Alright then; but what's that to do with Jerry Falwell, and why is his head on the body of the "Madman from Sudan," Abdullah the Butcher?
Well, Abdullah the Butcher is actually Larry Shreve from Windsor, Ontario. He runs a rib and Chinese food joint outside Atlanta now, though at 70 he still wrestles. He's older than Kirby's Captain America, who also was someone else when he set aside his cowl and shield. Shreve's said to be a nice guy outside the ring, but inside he'll still fuck you up.
"Who are our evil gods?" asked Kirby. To many on America's liberal left, Falwell was one. He was the christofascist nightmare who was to mandate prayer and criminalize abortion. Falwell's religion was a modern, Anglo-American dispensationalist cult befitting a comic book - Jack Chick was his Jack Kirby - and it was an angry shout to secular and pluralist America: You're going down!
Through seven years of Bush and many years before, Republicans have spent Falwell's support as electoral capital, and Democrats have held it up as a scary lightening rod to animate their own base. But Falwell's dead, and the Handmaid's Tale remains a fiction. (Though a fiction within the meta-fiction of contemporary America.) Perhaps, after all, he was more Larry Shreve than Galactus.
To liberal and progressive Americans, Falwell has been the man you love to hate. And he sure knew how to put on an entertaining show. ("The pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians" were responsible for 9/11? That's some conspiracy theory.) But Falwell was not the force he pretended to be, nor the power most begging for contention. Falwell was, in the end, another asset of Sun Myung Moon, whose influence upon the life of America's elite remains largely unsuspected and invisible. Thirty years ago, the Congressional Investigation of Korean-American relations reported
During the investigation, the subcommittee found it very difficult to obtain reliable information about the extent to which Moon industries were involved in weapons production and sales. The Moon Organization has self-proclaimed goals of controlling political and secular institutions and a strident ideology which envisions the formation of a “Unification Crusade Army.” Moon’s speeches forsee an apocalyptic confrontation involving the united States, Russia, China, Japan, and North and South Korea, in which the Moon Organization would play a key role, Under these circumstances, the subcommittee believes it is in the interest of the United States to know what control Moon and his followers have over instruments of war and to what extent they are in a position to influence Korean defense policies.
Falwell was a wrestler in a ring, but if that's all you saw you were missing the best part.