Welcome, Preacher

Welcome, Preacher

Billy Graham hath landed. He comes to save us. To Music City he hath flown, with advance men who speak in tiny microphones, and they make plain the way before him, just as he does for us. His years having increased many- many-fold, and his wisdom no doubt likewise, he still sports the hair of a lion, which is white and falling out somewhat, but macho all the same, and fearful.

Liberals, agnostics, atheists, and the Vanderbilt University religion department trembled, but trembled not really, for it was more like this: They knew not whether to pay attention, or brood, or stick to their espresso. The masses, though, we speak of them here in this way: Through the gates of Adelphia Coliseum they poured, 10,000-fold, a swarm across the river (by bridge, as the river had not yet parted), like a cloud of locusts, and only for the reason to hear this great man called Graham speak of an awful and bloody reckoning with the Lord, our creator and heavenly Father.

Many have described him before, in both spoken word and best-selling book, but agreed upon is this: Billy Graham has, perhaps, preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to more people than anyone in history. Upon our morning papyrus, The Tennessean, the comparison was made between Graham and Paul, the fellow who set out on his own dusty backroads thousands of years ago to preach the Gospel, and for whom books in the Bible were named, even without commercial sponsorship dollars involved. Impressive.

Adviser to presidents, counsel to VIPs, and all-around Old Testament kind-of-guy, Graham is said to have mellowed a bit in his golden years. Still, yea, the thunder and lightning of sin and salvation boom forth all the same.

Meanwhile, we, the media, wondered about all this. Posited in the coffee grinds of secular humanism, we weren’t inclined to like Mr. Graham at all. After all, it is hard to be excited about a Christian doctrine that encourages everyone to be saved to Christianity. That ought not make Jews, Buddhists, and Moslems comfortable. For that reason, it ought not make Christians comfortable.

As secular humanists, we were predisposed to look at Graham with the same perspective of Anne Lamott, in her book Traveling Mercies, when she describes ”one of those right-wing Christians who thinks that Jesus is coming back next Tuesday right after lunch,“ a person spouting ”hard-core, right-wing paranoid anti-Semitic homophobic misogynistic propaganda—not to put too fine a point on it.“ I suppose, down here at the Scene, if there are any Christians, those of us in the edit department prefer to present ourselves as liberation theology types who get off on Jesus’ good works. The truth is, it isn’t as simple as that.

The truth is, while we do think this way sometimes, these are our problems, not necessarily Mr. Graham’s. These are our biases, our preconceptions, our sins.

The truth is, we have no problem with Mr. Graham being here. In fact, it’s kind of wonderful. Summer has started. The mercury is rising. What better time for an old-fashioned, barn-burning, tent-raising revival!

We look at the lights at Adelphia from afar and think of all those believers, and of a man who has dedicated his life to doing what he thinks is right and good, and while we may not agree with everything being said, we say this to the man. Welcome to Nashville. If the spirit moves, come on by, and kick your feet up. We’ll even wash ’em.


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