Say What?

Wednesday’s Washington Post brought the news of a potential schism in the first family of American evangelical Protestantism, the Billy Graham clan. The issue, it seems, is the final resting place of the Rev. Graham and his wife, Ruth, both of whom are in bad health. Son Franklin Graham has reportedly proposed that the couple be interred on the grounds of a memorial “library” that the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, of which said Franklin is honcho, is building in Charlotte. The thing is, according to those who have visited the site, the library is actually “a large barn and silo,” supposedly reminiscent of Rev. Graham’s childhood days on a dairy farm. After passing through a gigantic glass entryway cut in the shape of across, visitors would be greeted by—I ain’t kidding, I swear—a talking mechanical cow named “Bessie.” Once they recover from the shock, they will proceed along a straw line path past an array of “multimedia exhibits” until they reach a stone walk, also laid out as a cross, which would take them to the garden where Billy and Ruth Graham could lie in perpetual repose.
Along the way, visitors will have opportunities to put their names on mailing lists, which suggests to critics, such as Ruth Graham’s biographer, the novelist Patricia Cornwell, that “the whole purpose of this evangelistic experience is fund-raising.” Not so, says Franklin Graham, who insists that he hopes that “by the time they come out of the library” every visitor would “be confronted with a decision to accept or reject Christ.” Sorry Franklin, but my guess is that Bessie symbolizes an entire operation that is essentially a ”cash cow.” The Graham library/farm/cemetery plot should actually fit nicely with the new NASCAR museum and the Carowinds amusement park as yet another enticement in Charlotte’s tourist-fleecing arsenal. Close observers have often noted the contrast between Franklin’s rather flamboyant lifestyle and the simple and humble circumstances in which his parents have lived. I may be the only one who thinks so, but I see a parallel here with the behavior of the children of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. If Franklin gets his way, the King kids may even be displaced from their perch atop the tackiness charts.
While I was still trying to process the Graham burial site weirdness, I was hit beside the head with Rummy’s swearing out celebration, which apparently was held in the capital of the State of Denial. Where else, after all, could even the stone -faced Dick Cheney maintain a straight face while declaring Rumsfeld “the finest secretary of defense this nation has ever had”? Likewise, where but in the ultimate fantasy kingdom could Dubya assert that under his dumped Defense Secretary “the United States military helped the Iraqi people establish a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East, a watershed event in the story of freedom” ? Thanks to Franklin Graham for reminding me that fact can really be stranger than fiction and to the Bush administration for proving that, these days at least, it’s a lot scarier as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Cobb published on December 16, 2006 11:07 AM.

Liberal Stereotypes Never Die. Nor Do They Fade Away was the previous entry in this blog.

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