About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Where’s Your Green Card? | Main | You’re Such a Lovely Audience »

    It's Time Somebody Got Smitten

    jerry_fallwell.jpgQuote:  “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked.”  Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, speaking of 911.

    Figure of Speech:  jeremiad (Jer-uh-MY-ad), the figure of godly payback.  Named after the Biblical prophet Jeremiah.

    Jerry Falwell is dead.  The evangelical minister led a busy life as a voice that cried out against all the abominations America fell  into — sins like civil rights and public education.  He got some great press for attributing the September 11 terrorism to “the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, [and] People for the American Way.”

    Even some of his evangelical allies thought the Rev had gone off the theological deep end.  But he was following a very old American tradition.  In seventeenth-century New England, Puritan ministers used the jeremiad to terrify their communities, blaming their ills on the sins the citizens had committed or permitted.

    The word “jeremiad” itself is an eponym — a word named after a person.  Jeremiah was a prophet responsible for two of the most pessimistic books in the Bible, the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations.  (Ian Frazier’s side-splitting “Lamentations of the Father” is a brilliant spoof.)

    New Englanders eventually tired of the jeremiad, dedicated themselves to full-time sinning, and became the modern-day Gomorrah that abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians call “Massachusetts.”

    Snappy Answer:  “Terrorists will be glad to know they’re off the hook.”

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (3)

    A frequent letter-writer to the newspaper in Mt. Pleasant, MI attributed the rising water levels of the Great Lakes (circa 1986) to "feminists, homosexuals and cultists". Who knew we had such power?!?
    May 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKris S.
    best snappy answer yet
    May 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterclaytonian
    I read Frazier's "Lamentations" during lunch and my milk came out my nose. It made me feel 20 years younger! (Age 10, to be exact.)
    May 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMary

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.