Thursday, December 14, 2006

Billy Graham and Wife to be Buried in Dairy Barn Tourist Attraction


Few things make me madder than watching old people being pushed around, and this story about the Reverend Billy Graham is just shameful. His son Franklin has put together a "library" that looks like a giant dairy farm, complete with a talking cow. Billy and his wife resisted but were pressured into agreeing to be buried there. It's located in Charlotte, North Carolina where it is intended to be a cash cow for the evangelical association now headed by the son Franklin. It makes Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye's project seem classy, and something should be done.

When I think about how mad my grandmother would have been to hear all this, it just makes me cringe. I'm related to Dwight L. Moody, on my mother's side. He was a leading minister of the last century. Here's little bit of the biographical stuff on Wikipedia:

"After the Civil War started, he was involved with the U.S. Christian Commission of the YMCA, and ministered at several battlefields.In Chicago, Moody worked to start a Sunday school for children in the poorer parts of the city. He soon had over 1,000 children and their parents attending each Sunday. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln visited one week....

It was in a trip to England that Moody became well known as an evangelist, to the point that some have claimed he was the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. His preaching had an impact as great as that of George Whitefield and John Wesley within Britain, Scotland and Ireland. On several occasions he filled stadiums of 2,000 to 4,000 capacity. In the Botanic Gardens Palace, a meeting had between 15,000 to 30,000 people. This turnout continued throughout 1874 and 1875, with crowds of thousands at all of his meetings. During his visit to Scotland he was helped and encouraged by Andrew A. Bonar. When he returned to the United States, crowds of 12,000 to 20,000 were just as common as in England. President Grant and some of his cabinet attended a meeting on January 19, 1876. His evangelistic meetings were held from Boston to New York, throughout New England and as far as San Francisco, and other West coast towns from Vancouver to San Diego."

Somewhere around here there's a picture of my grandmother as a baby in a horse-drawn carriage, riding with her grandfather, Dwight L. Moody. Unfortunately, while growing up, I never showed this great part of the family tree as much respect as it deserved. Dwight was a large, 300-pound man, and looking at him in the carriage picture, I pointed out that I knew why the horse wasn't moving.

The other comment that I really regret is the time we ended up with a portrait of his wife in our living room. It was in one of those big old gold frames, and I made the stupid comment that she looked like Morticia in the Addams Family. One of my uncles said I didn't show enough respect for the Moody story and, frankly, he's never liked me as much since. Comedy can be dangerous, folks.

Dwight Moody was such a big deal in evangelical circles, that a young Billy Graham came to Northfield, Mass.- the town where my mother was also born - to pay his respects. The story is that my grandmother gave the young preacher a bad time because she felt he was too flashy back then. I guess when he was young, he did go a little overboard.

Frankly, I'll never be all that impressed with evangelical preachers, especially these con men on TV. I'm sure many are sincere, but many are flim-flam artists. And I do not get a good vibe from this young Franklin Graham. He looks way too flashy as well. But that's all one level of annoying.

What they're doing with this beloved American couple as they face their final days, is a disgrace on a people level. It's the same disgust I felt reading about the lowlifes who pressured a dying George Harrison to sign a guitar. It's not right. Where are the religious supporters who've benefited from Billy Graham's decades of service? They've got to respond to this.

Speaking of service, I waited on him once at the Portland Hilton. I told him, "I'm a direct descendent of Dwight L. Moody, so you're in good hands." He seemed pleased, but preoccupied. Later, when he spoke to the crowd, he talked about the great damage done from Hurricane Andrew. I really got it about his speaking ability. When he described the destruction of the storm it was like you could see it, floating there in the air. Whether you're a believer or not, this is a great American, and he deserves better than to be buried in a dairy barn, just because his son wants to make some serious bank with a tacky roadside attraction.

2 Comments:

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended Billy Graham Crusades in the UK at Wembley, Earls Court and Norwich and have always appreciated Billy and Ruth Graham's writings. I am however, soemewhat concerned about Billy's
"Americanization" of the gospel and over-identification with the American way of life and the global political aspirations of whatever President happens to be in power.

Billy and Ruth's children worry me in that their ministries depend to a large extent on the good name of their parents, that 3 of them are divorced and that Franklin suffers from religious intolerance and Islamphobia in addition to a materialistic lifestyle that is not compatible with true Biblical Christianity. Having visited the States in 2004 I am horrified to find that several of Graham's children have appeared on Pat Robertson's 700 Club and other dubious bigoted, ultra right-wing TV programmes.

When the time comes, Ruth and Billy should be buried with due dignity in some quiet place,not in the Evangelical equivalent of Disneyland.

 
At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Chris Snethen said...

Speaking of Heritage USA. Here are some great pics of the abandoned site.

For such a simple man of God to be whored out like this is sad. Really sad.

 

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