So the Reverend Fred Phelps is gone and we’re all having… reactions about that. But one of the few positives that has come out of the story is the resurfacing of a whole heap of really cool literature on the subject. In particular, Patton Oswalt’s 2007 Spin article comparing the Westboro Baptish Church and Fred Phelps to punk rock bubbled back to the surface today, and it’s an absolute cracker.
In typical Oswalt-style, he really throws himself into the subject and doesn’t even remotely entertain the notion of holding back. Phelps and the WBC? Just a bunch of misfit religo-punks out to wreck shit and throw middle fingers to mainstream theology. They’re here to smash whatever it is they think the system is and rattle all your safe little cages, for Christ’s sake.
Among the highlights – and there are many – is Oswalt’s southern-fried interpretation of the WBC’s view of their Lord, “God doesn’t like the way we’ve been eyeing him at the bar, and he’s about to follow us out into the parking lot and curb-stomp us for the half-mast hard-on we’ve given him.”
Further on, Patton fires up the fandom machine and pours a hot, steaming serving of truth over everyone who ever wondered, however briefly, how a group of human beings could spout such hateful rhetoric: “how do you show a fragile-as-peanut-brittle omnipotent being you truly, truly love him? The same way you show your favourite band, comedian, or sports team your loyalty — by actively, and publicly, hating their rivals.“
It’s a fairly simple equation to understand: The Westboro Baptist Church is punk as hell. The essay is both hilarious and makes a certain weird sort-of sense, in only the way that Patton Oswalt’s own unique brand of slightly skewed truth distortion can get across.
You can read the whole article here. Trust us when we say, it’ll make your Friday afternoon.
Photo: Adrian Sanchez for Getty Images.