This story first hit the news, or at least first crossed my radar, back around last Christmas. Keith Olbermann mentioned it on his show, and the next morning an impersonator on the Imus show (not Rob Bartlett but the other one) did a "Jerry Falwell" monologue about it, a clip of which I recently posted here.
Well now there's more news. In a nutshell, there now exists a multi-million dollar theme-park-style Billy Graham Library. It's basically an air-conditioned barn with a talking cow:
Visitors will be able to walk through a replica of [Graham's] boyhood home before heading for the library, a barn-like building that is entered through a giant glass cross that rises from the ground to the roof. Once inside, they will be greeted by a life-size mechanical Holstein named Bessie. The cow will speak to them about the evangelist's humble beginnings.
You can see a picture of the barn at the link in the my first paragraph. Not everyone in the Graham family is overjoyed about it:
Franklin Graham wants to bury his parents at the library, but his mother adamantly opposes the idea. "It's a circus, a tourist attraction," Ruth Graham, the evangelist's wife of 63 years, told the Washington Post in December.
I'm with her. Click the link and read the whole thing. It's fascinating, but to me it's also sad in a way. I respect the Rev. Graham in a way I've never respected any other televangelist. If you don't know much about him, do a bit of research. He took risks in the South that almost no other whites - particularly prominent whites with conservative followers - were willing to take. And unless I'm very much mistaken, he was a close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. and even bailed him out of jail in Alabama a time or two.
Incidentally, I mentioned somewhere that it was curious that no republican candidates are attending the dedication of this library. Now that I think about it, it might not be so curious after all.
If this were any other Christian televangelist I'd be laughing my ass off about it. But I can't get around the fact that it looks like a good man might come to a bad end and not get the dignity and respect he deserves in death. That seems to be the way Ruth Graham feels, too. I think it's all very sad.
I never knew that you thought thatway about any Christian, Berberry. It just goes to show that I don't really know you as well as I thought.
I always liked Graham, but he had his problems too. His Ministry was free from the scandals (as far as we know) that plagued other large ministries. Him and his wife were credible people. Many Catholic friends of mine refer to him as the Protestant Pope! ;)
I definitely would not lump him in with Jars infamous Christian Cult Of Ignorance, but Jar may have other ideas about Reverend Graham.
Jar? If you are reading this, do you care to comment?
quote:I always liked Graham, but he had his problems too. His Ministry was free from the scandals (as far as we know) that plagued other large ministries.
I seem to remember that he kept his financial records open, or at least some of them. I think he used to publicly release his personal tax returns, but I'm not certain about that. I'm pretty sure, though, that he practiced a much more open policy with regard to his ministry's financial records than is required by law.
Credibility is not among the criteria I used in the judgement I offered. As you might expect, I don't put a lot of stock in the credibility of religion. But in my opinion Graham is a cut way above the standard in his profession, and like I said I consider him to be a good man who often took great pains and even risks to do the right thing.
That's not to say that I think he always did the right thing. I don't. But for some reason I've always felt that even when he was wrong - which was probably most of the time - his heart was probably in the right place.
But there are many, many Christians who I adore. Just not many televangelists and/or right-wing religious leaders.
The only serious mar I can recall on Graham's record was the Watergate-tape recorded episode of his obseqious agreement with Nixon's anti-Semitic rants--something he later repudiated and for which he apologized.
Otherwise, he seemed a sincere and fervent advocate for beliefs I do not share but can respect. Only when he veered into fire and brimstone guilt and shame did I feel that his version of Christianity was harmful to human happiness.
I seem also to recall that he expressed reservations later in his life about a close association of Christian leadership and partisan politics. He was the most authentic of his generation of evangelists, and we would be a better nation now if other evangelists had measured up to his mark.
AbE: I do recollect some criticism of Graham as a limo and private jet riding preacher...