WaPo remembers Billy Graham with a blitz of mean-spirited screeds
The body of the Rev. Billy Graham was not even cold before the Washington Post came out with at least three hostile opinion pieces about the man as a means of remembering him.
Seriously? This is the man who once asked believers: if Christianity were illegal, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Someone who had the grace to say things like this?
Someone asked me recently if I didn't think God was unfair, allowing me to have Parkinson's and other medical problems when I have tried to serve him faithfully. I replied that I did not see it that way at all. Suffering is part of the human condition, and it comes to us all. The key is how we react to it, either turning away from God in anger and bitterness or growing closer to him in trust and confidence.
Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.
Believers, look up – take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.
To hear the Washington Post tell it, you'd think Graham was some kind of beast. He was a horrible father, whose time on the road evangelizing left an embittered wife and screwed up kids, according to this historian. That's the way he should be remembered, for all the influence he exerted and all the people who said he helped them in their lives? Or this: He was vain, stupid, and un-prophet-like, according to columnist George Will, who went into the weeds of Graham's ministry to U.S. presidents, something most people see as a benign and unimportant sideline of Graham's. Or this: He gave us the monster of evangelical Christianity as a political force, according to this egghead's analysis, and that can't be forgiven.
Only wretched Joe Scarborough, who described Graham's beneficial influence on his own family as he was growing up, comes closest to reality in describing Graham's real legacy.
To be fair, the pieces aren't on the same level as what's being put out by the un-housebroken left. Get a load of this one from a bottom-of-the-barrel Teen Vogue columnist. They are not badly written or badly argued, and they all seem fact-based. But they all cherry-pick the negative, at a moment when it would be normal to eulogize Graham, in order to paint a miserable picture of a multidimensional man who had a vastly beneficial impact.
Seriously, Graham was out of the house a lot? The woman he married knew the deal before she married him, so although the suffering by his absence was real, and Graham himself seemed to have been affected by it, as the story is told, there's zero understanding of the multifaceted relationship the couple must have had. There had to have been a lot of love mixed with a lot of frustration in that relationship. There is also zero understanding of the phenomenon of leaving family to go preach, as Jesus commanded his apostles to do, which comes off as knowing nothing about Christianity itself. The sufferings of the Graham family were made meaningful by their relationship with God, which is why they were able to embrace family members even through divorce and drugs, as the story tells, and they all stayed together. Faith does that. In the story, there were just facts, painted to the worst effect, but no meaningful insight.
And Graham was somehow stupid and vain for counseling presidents, as George Will writes? The guy always kept out of politics. His pastoral care (and sure, he admits he made mistakes) of presidents was really just that. He was always known as the wise old man who counseled presidents in tough times. He wasn't a pol.
The Post analysis seems to think Graham created evangelicals – oh, how dreadful – and that "evangelical" means exclusively right-wing political voters, which experience shows is not the case. The reality is that he rode the wave and was one of its leaders, but the whole idea of evangelicalism is to apply Christian principles to political choices instead of the other way around. Naturally, that leads to a lot of small-government ideas, generally, and that would explain why conservatism usually works better for evangelicals. They simply are trying to live the Gospel.
As did Graham. That is his real story and legacy and how he would be fairly eulogized if that were possible. Sarah Palin gets the tone just right about Graham – he was a man to her who made a difference. That is appropriate to say just now.
To use the man's death as an opportunity to blast him every which way pretty well contradicts what Will claimed in his piece: that Graham just went with the political flow and challenged nothing. If he did, he wouldn't be blitzed with so many nasty things coming from the Beltway's premier paper. Prophets are indeed without honor, and contrary to Will's claims, Graham must have been some kind of prophet to have drawn a mean-spirited reaction like this.