Billy Graham at 93: Still funny
Billy Graham, the grand old man if American (global?) evangelicalism turns 93 today. A few days ago he met with the current editors of Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical magazine, as I always call it, the magazine he founded — no small contribution to the expansion of the evangelical mind.
Graham’s sense of humor and humility about himself and things intellectual were also evident at the meeting, CT editor David Neff writes:
When [Graham] spoke of the [CT] board’s first chair, Harold John Ockenga, he remembered the prominent Boston pastor introducing him when he was to speak to students at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Afraid that he didn’t have the educational credentials to be convincing to these students, Graham told Ockenga to use lots of big words in his introduction. Not only did Ockenga use big words, Graham remembers, but he used so many words Graham didn’t understand that when Ockenga sat down, he wasn’t sure that he had actually been introduced.
In an e-mail, current board chair John Huffman told me that he had been present for this event as a 10-year-old and remembered it just the same way. That Graham told the story to CT’s board of directors demonstrates that he has retained his humility and self-deprecating sense of humor.
My first or second visit to Madison Square Garden was to see Billy Graham, in the 1960s, when midtown Manhattan wasn’t as Disneyfied as today. It was a carnival of another sort. Then again, the “crusade,” as Graham rallies were called then, was difficult to distinguish in my mind from my other early MSG experience, the circus. Wonderful stuff. “How Great Thou Art” was the top track on the soundtrack of my youth, and if you want a real evangelical oldster story, George Beverly Shea is still robust at 102.
Crossposted at S&P.