Billy Graham, at peace with God

When I was nine years old, while watching a Billy Graham crusade on television, I had a “born again” experience. I don’t remember whose house I was at, but it was on Oak Street, between Winding Way and Dickinson Street, across the street and half a block from my church in Binghamton, NY.

It was a specific theology that wasn’t so different, I suppose, from what I learned from Trinity AME Zion, but it resonated so much that, somehow, I got recruited by the secretary at my school, Pat, for Friday Night Bible Club. My sister Leslie soon went as well, and we attended for several years.

I’m fairly sure it was Pat who gave me a copy of Peace with God, Graham’s 1952 classic book about salvation. This codified my budding theology so that I thought, as did others, that I would grow up to be a preacher.

I could quote Scripture pretty darn well in those days. Psalm 119:11 – “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might might not sin against Thee.” Didn’t have to look it up, even after all these years.

By 9th grade, I started carrying around my Bible to school. By 10th grade, my friend Bobby and I would walk two miles to the Primitive Methodist Church in Johnson City every Sunday afternoon for more fundamentalist training, and then usually walk back.

I really became “holier than thou.” Even when some of my friends drank and smoked pot, in my presence, I remained resolute. Until I wasn’t.

When I understood that all those people in India and China who never accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, who perhaps never really even heard of him, were supposedly going to go to a literally fiery pit called Hell – which is why why we “needed” so many missionaries – I simply couldn’t accept that.

Fairly soon thereafter, I fell away from this belief system, which I had initially learned from Billy Graham, and it took a long time to find my way back to a theology that made sense to me.

I started re-examining the preacher. His close ties with Presidents, when I had been younger, I saw as a good thing in spreading the Word.

His friendship with Richard Nixon, in particular, became problematic for me, as I believed even by my freshman year in college that Graham was co-opted by the power elite, rather than speaking truth to that power.

To his credit, Graham eventually came to that same conclusion himself. He actively discouraged Jerry Falwell, a founder of the Moral Majority, from mixing religion and politics.

“Evangelicals can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle, to preach to all the people, right and left,” Graham said in 1981, according to Time magazine. “I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will in the future.”

I have a soft spot in my heart for Billy Graham, despite his significant shortcomings, as accurately laid out by Arthur. Not so for his dreadful son Franklin, whose appearance in Albany in 2016 I protested.

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August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

WD40
The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.
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Robin Williams has died. SHAZBOT!

public domain

public domain

I had heard that Robin Williams had passed away while I was hanging out with some Times Union bloggers Monday night, Chuck Miller and Don Rittner and David Kalish. My first thought that maybe it was a hoax, which says a lot about the news these days. But it wasn’t until I got home that I discovered that he had apparently committed suicide.

The FIRST person I thought of Continue reading

July Rambling: Weird Al, and the moon walk

clock.numbers
Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell. To that end, Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations and Congratulations: It’s a corporation.

An answer to the child immigrant problem at the US-Mexican border? I note that the Biblical Jesus was a refugee, his parents fleeing Herod’s wrath. Yet so many people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ “are so uncaring and hateful about hungry children trying to get to a better, safer place to live.”

In the non-surprise category: Stand Your Ground Laws Lead To More Homicides, Don’t Deter Crime.

Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda.

Yiddish Professor Miriam Isaacs has dug in a previously unknown treasure of over a thousand unknowns Yiddish songs recorded of Holocaust survivors; text is in Swedish, but can be translated. Miriam was my old racquetball buddy decades ago.

The Creation Myth of 20th Century Fundamentalism by Jeff Sharlet, who I also knew long ago.

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe came out as gay. Arthur explains why it STILL matters. Also: I Can Be Christian, and Gay, and Live in Alabama.

Portraits of people in 7 days’ worth of their own garbage.
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Fair and balanced news

NewsMusing on what passes for news these days, I was taken by this story: The distorting reality of ‘false balance’ in the media. It’s saying, essentially, that if you have two people on the news debating whether the Earth is round or flat, you unnecessarily elevate the flat earth argument to be equivalent.

I haven’t written much about either the awful shootdown of Malaysian flight or the Israel-Gaza war, other than I found it depressing as all get out. (What does “depressing as all get out” mean? Continue reading

Soccer, a.k.a. football; and lies on the Internet

The first time I ever even had a passing interest in soccer was watching some eight-year olds play in the early 1980s. Now my daughter has participated the last couple years, so I’ve become vaguely informed about the nuances. The Daughter wants one of those new soccer balls, called a brazuca, but I hear it costs $160; not happening.

Not that I would dis anyone who didn’t like the sport because they thought it was boring; I used to think so myself. But I figuratively rolled my eyes at certain Americans with their observations. Continue reading

June Rambling: Hal Holbrook; Marimba Queens

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) voted for marriage equality at its General Assembly this month. “Ministers will be allowed to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.”

On the other hand, Freedom and Faith Coalition’s Road to Majority conference had an Obama figurine in the urinal.

CBS News Sunday Morning did a piece, Born this way: Stories of young transgender children. The ever-interesting Dustbury on Gender Confirmation Surgery.

Writer Jay Lake worked closely with Lynne Thomas, an Illinois-based librarian… to ensure that all his blog posts and essays would be saved for posterity. “Though this is a relatively uncomplicated task for his blog content, which he unambiguously owned, it gets problematic when you wade into the legal rights of preserving your social media presence. ‘You can’t just download Facebook content into an archive.’”

A cartoon from 2008, and still apt: A Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The United States.

Mark Evanier on O.J. Simpson trial nostalgia.
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Teevee; remembering Dee, Gwynn, Kasem, Noll

televisionI was watching JEOPARDY! per usual. But this was strange: in the six days between June 6 and June 13, inclusive, none of the contestants got the Final correct in five of them, whereas I KNEW four of them, and guessed correctly on the fifth. The one question I got wrong, two of them got right.

These are the six final answers:

20th CENTURY AMERICANS: In 1911 Glenn Curtiss received this document Number 1.
THE MEDITERRANEAN: It’s the only U.N. member country in the Mediterranean where English is an official national language.
SCIENTISTS: As a humorous tribute, an astronomical term equivalent to at least 4 billion has been named for him.
CAPITAL CITY WORDPLAY: Ending in the same 2 letters, these 2 are capitals of a nation that covers a continent & of a nation reaching onto 2 continents.
CURRENT TELEVISION: George Romero declined to direct a few episodes of this series, calling it “basically…just a soap opera”
FOREIGN AFFAIRS: William Sullivan retired from the Foreign Service in 1979; he was the last U.S. Ambassador to this country.

Which one did I get wrong? Continue reading

D-Day; Maya Angelou

dday.kn17825As D-Day approaches, all I can think about are 90-year-old men who saw awful things, but sucked it up to get through the events, and then stoically never talked about them. That is until 50 or 60 or 70 years later – goaded by family members or in recognition of their own mortality, as at least 600 WWII vets die EVERY DAY in the US – they start telling their stories. And while unique, they are the same story Continue reading

E is for the Everly Brothers

The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees, Bob Dylan, the Byrds, and Simon & Garfunkel all listed them as influences. In fact, Paul Simon described his solo hit Graceland as an Everly Brothers song. The bonus tracks on Rockpile’s Seconds of Pleasure album features Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds sing songs by the duo.

Isaac Donald “Don” Everly (born February 1, 1937) and Phillip “Phil” Everly (born January 19, 1939) were known for “steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing.” They were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first class, in 1986.

I remember seeing my father’s single of Bird Dog/Devoted to You on Cadence Records in the house. The brothers got some great songs from the husband and wife Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, as well as tunes they penned themselves. Unfortunately in the early 1960s, the Everlys were shut off from Acuff-Rose songwriters. “These included Felice and Boudleaux Bryant… as well as Don and Phil Everly themselves, who were still contracted to Acuff-Rose as songwriters.” But they remained popular in England and the European continent well after their US popularity waned.

For a time, they had a major falling out, but eventually got back together to play the oldies circuit. Still, their impact on popular music was already settled.

Sadly, Phil Everly died on January 3, 2014 of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.

My favorite Everly Brothers songs Continue reading