Billy Graham: A Tribute to a Transcending Influencer

Billy Graham - Beyond Religion

Anyone who knows me can tell you I have little interest in scripture or worship. Sundays, for me, are for golfing or watching football. However, I can tell you about religion, theology or liturgy, but what I know is more academic than spiritual.

Who Was Billy Graham?

William Franklin Graham, Jr. was born on November 7th, 1918 and died February 21st of this year. Some people may not have realized the impact of the passing of Billy Graham. To be honest, at first, I did not understand precisely what the world had lost. However, after talking to my mother on the phone as she watched coverage of Mr. Graham being brought to lie in state inside the Capitol rotunda, I began to think. She was not specific on any direct influence he had on her or any life-changing moment he provided to our family, but as always, she talked, I listened, and I left the conversation wondering about the people’s lives he had touched - and there were many.

To put this into perspective, he was in the public eye for six decades. For 60 years, Graham was in direct contact with hundreds of millions of people on six different continents. He provided spiritual counsel to presidents ranging from President Truman through President Obama. Graham was a witness to every modern American milestone from the Depression to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. He preached jointly with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in New York City and even bailed him out of jail.

Graham was a man of significant accomplishments. Few could measure up, and he did it all regardless of beliefs, ideology, color or creed. In short, he just did what he thought was right.

Controversy Did Not Escape Graham

Like anyone else, he had his share of controversies and stigmas. Although, there does not seem to be anyone who is immune to that. However, in his 60 plus years in the public eye - no scandal toppled his cause. He led his life according to his code and to further his cause. As much as some people may shy away at the thought, his cause was spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So often, he was the right man with the right voice at the right time. Few in history fit that mantra. Sadly, as I read article after article and post after post, I have come to the sad realization that more Reverend Grahams are needed now more than ever. However, I also realize that a man of such conviction and stewardship like Graham would be mocked and ridiculed today. He would be shouted down as a zealot, a Bible thumper and no doubt a racist. It is incredibly sad to think our “society” destroys people like Graham merely because they do not agree with his ideology.

Setting the Conscience of a Nation

As I said before, no one would refer to me as religious. However, I recognize the fact that many are and to those people, faith, though a belief in the intangible, can be more galvanizing than the day to day realities of life. I would be willing to put my faith in the fact that there are several Billy Grahams alive today. I would also double down on the fact that they would be effectively marginalized or ostracized by an ever increasingly secular public. It is not out of touch to see that perhaps more spirituality - in whatever way you see fit - would be a welcomed change. The answers are not found within the government or on the internet. Those answers, in whatever degree, are within all of us. You can call it a conscience or a heartbeat or even a soul. At the very least no one can argue that Reverend Graham set the conscience of an entire nation. Perhaps that is not as out of touch as one may think.

Image source www.billygraham.org, adapted

Joel Merkins / Writer

Born pretty, then it all went downhill from there. I traveled the world and saw a lot then settled in a small Texas town. My family is small but it's everything. Life is good.
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