In one week two things happened: the Rev. Fred Phelps died and I saw "Shrek". Both could have come from the Bible where we read "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." (Proverbs 10:12)
In case the name is not familiar, Fred Phelps was the unfortunate pastor who preached hatred as he preached a God who hated human beings. He publicly boycotted the funerals of those he felt deserved this hatred. His following was small, chiefly members of his own family supporting their pathetic leader. I can only think of the surprise the Rev. Fred must have received in the next life when the God of love embraced his frozen heart and welcomed him into knowledge of a world he had been unable to conceive.
I also saw a marvelous high school production of "Shrek" with an audience of enthusiastic youngsters, one of whom, aged almost five, told me that she knew the "whole story and it is wonderful." I appreciated her enthusiasm and could only hope that the talented young singers absorbed what they were declaiming, that a grumpy green ogre and a princess with a nightly curse of ugliness could really see beyond the external into hearts that could love and know friendship beyond their exteriors.
I loved watching Shrek realize he has outgrown the loneliness of his swamp, that fencing himself in is not productive, that he could indeed love and be loved. My little friend Sadie and her peers were enthusiastic. What a message of tolerance for a world that loves to preach about our need of physical improvement. Shrek realizes the greater truth that the inside is worth so much more than the outside.
We don't need to preach hatred of those who are different, do we? It is so unproductive. I do not believe in reincarnation, but I would be delighted if the Rev. Phelps could return with a new message for a world where hatred stirs more easily than love.
This time he could say, "I have met the God who wants us to love one another as he has loved us."
Shrek and his princess could harmonize on an "Amen" to that!