Why I feel sorry for Fred Phelps.
Phelps’ barbaric and sociopathic deity reflected his inner self.
Fred Phelps is dead. The founder of Westbro Baptist Church and perhaps one of the most hateful people in Christianity has shuffled his mortal coil, leaving us to ponder what this means and what his legacy will be. I’m guessing that few people will mourn his passing, but hoping that the triumphal jubilation that I expect to see never materialises.
I do want to talk about Phelps, who he is and what he represents.
Yesterday, I wrote about the “Happy Ones”, saying that the Happy Ones are those who have not only chosen to be happy, but have made a concrete decision to bring happiness into the lives of everyone. In contrast, Phelps is one of the “Hateful Ones”. It is clear that he made a conscious choice to embrace hate as a way of life and in doing so, wished to bring hate into the lives of everyone. His famous saying, “God Hates Fags” (and Jews, and America and fairly much everyone) makes this abundantly clear.
Phelps obviously chose many other things, including intolerance, arrogance and pride. Some might say that he also chose “Jesus”, but I don’t think that his true. Phelps would have been the person he was, whether he was a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Pagan. The god that he worshiped was a reflection of who he was, rather than the other way around.
In all honestly, I feel sorry for people like Phelps and am filled with the urge to reach out to them and to show them another path. Although, given how deeply committed he was to the path of hate, it is doubtful that anything that I could have said would have impacted him in the slightest. If nothing else, the fact that I freely admit to knowing nothing is repellent to those who insist that they know everything.
Another reason that I feel sorry for people like him is that I firmly believe that who we are and the choices that we make are fundamental to our destination through eternity. In one of my trances, I experienced my entire existence stretching out in time behind me, while my future stretched out in front (visually it was left to right, but the element of time was vital to the experience).
I saw that where I am today is not just the result of decisions that I have made in this lifetime, but because of decisions I have made over the course of my eternal existence. This is nothing like Karma in the traditional sense, but rather a reflection of the choices that I have made and the person that I decided to become as far back in time as I can comprehend.
The reason that I can say that I am one of the Happy Ones is because I have built up a foundation and done the work required to get to this point. This doesn’t mean that I can rest on my laurels. The reality is that unless I consciously choose my path and determine my destination, I could very well slip back into a Phelps like existence.
Because, in my visions, I have also come to realise that there is another “me” out there. In fact, there are an Infinity of “me”s out there and not all of them have taken the same path as I. In fact, many have taken the exact opposite path. Where I have chosen happiness, they have chosen misery. Where I have chosen love, they have chosen hate. Where I have chosen tolerance, they have chosen persecution. Where I have chosen hope, they have despair.
I feel incredibly saddened by these other “me”s. They live in a place that to me seems like “Hell”, but to them makes perfect sense. Our explorations of the Infiniverse will take us to diametrically opposite places and I fear greatly for what terrors they will discover on their journey.
Reflecting on why I feel sorrow for my other selves who have chosen a different path is why I feel sorry for Phelps. The man was consumed by his own hate and self-righteousness, but failed to understand that he already stood on the steps of the Hell that he thought all others would be sent to.
Imagine living the life of someone like Phelps. It isn’t just the hate. It is the fear and insecurity that drives it and the worldview that sustains it. Imagine what it must be like to honestly believe that almost everyone you meet is destined to burn in the fires of eternal damnation. It must be terrifying.
If you honestly believe that everyone else is going to burn in Hell, then you believe in a sociopathic and barbaric god. If god is prepared to eternally torture billions of people for their perceived transgressions, how can anyone be safe? How can you know that you aren’t somehow going to make a mistake that is going to condemn you. Obviously you can’t and irrespective of how pure you think you might be, the doubt and the nightmare of other people’s torture must surely haunt your life.
Despite spending his entire life trying to get others to share his demonic vision, it is estimated that at most his disruptive flock never amounted to any more than about 100 people and that most of these were family members. In the end, he died after having been excommunicated by his own church.
Of course, it could be argued that like his god, Phelps was himself a completely delusional sociopath. Perhaps his seeming megalomania would make it highly unlikely that he ever doubted his true path, or final residence in Heaven. Ultimately, that may be so. We’ll never know. What I think that we can say is that Phelps’ “heaven” would be a barren, angry and intolerant place.
His path throughout eternity is one that is unlikely to lead to a world filled with happiness. Ultimately, he died rejected by the world. He died rejected by his flock. And most likely died filled with terror about being rejected by his own evil god.