Monday, April 17, 2006

Billy Graham

In an earlier post, I mentioned viewing two programs this weekend on one of our local PBS stations about Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. They were both simply fascinating productions, each attempting to cover the same territory, but each coming at the Grahams at different angles. He was an icon to my generation and that of my parents.

Senator Smathers, who founded the firm in which I began the practice of law, is a good friend of his. I will never forget the Christmas party at the Key Biscayne Hotel which the Senator and his wife hosted for our firm. Rev. Graham "dropped by" to say hello, and gave some seemingly off the cuff remarks about Christmas. He did so in a way that was unoffensive to my Jewish colleagues but, gently and effectively, offered no compromise on who Jesus was. It was simply a magic moment for me.

As a pre-teen, I saw Billy Graham twice, once at the Southern Baptist Convention, when it met on Miami Beach. (The Herald reported that the Baptists came with the Ten Commandments in one hand and a twenty-dollar bill in the other, and didn't break either one.) The second time I attended a Crusade that he led on Miami Beach.

As an adult, I saw him another time, this time at MIA. He was coming in from a trip. He is a tall man and he wore a fedora, a trenchcoat, and sun glasses. He did not look around and mainly looked at the way before him. But it was he. He was like a movie star. I just stopped and stared.

Although we have been to Montreat each summer for the past many years and often have attended the church that the Grahams attend, we have never seen him. But I do remember seeing Ruth Bell Graham at that church. (The church where she and Rev. Graham were married, I learned from one of the videos.) She was sitting with Jim Bakker who, the previous afternoon, had been released from prison - she had brought him to church! What a great example of love and grace!

Amazon has one of the videos: Billy Graham: God's Ambassador

The other can be purchased through a North Carolina firm. It had been produced, I think, by NC Public Television: Ruth and Billy Graham: What Grace Provides

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