December 14, 2006

Of course, this is Franklin's idea

I am speechless. Ruth and Billy Graham are getting up in years. Like sensible people they are making arrangments for their final resting place. Bit of a family squabble, to put it mildly. Of all of Ruth and Billy's children, Franklin is the most right-wing reactionary wingnut, so this idea of his falls into the category of What Else Would You Expect...

But at this moment everyone's attention is on the visitor, crime novelist Patricia Cornwell, who is talking about a memorial "library" that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, headed by Franklin, is building in Charlotte. Cornwell toured the building site and saw the proposed burial plot. She was asked by Ned, who opposes Franklin's choice, to come and give his father her impression.

"I was horrified by what I saw," she tells Billy, in the presence of a reporter invited to be there.

The building, designed in part by consultants who used to work for the Walt Disney Co., is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo -- a reminder of Billy Graham's early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it's completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of multimedia exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie.

Throughout the tour, there will be several opportunities for people to put their names on a mailing list.

"The whole purpose of this evangelistic experience is fundraising," Cornwell says to Billy Graham. "I know who you are and you are not that place. It's a mockery. People are going to laugh. Please don't be buried there."

[...]

Billy Graham, who has Parkinson's disease, sits erect in an orthopedic chair, dressed in pressed bluejeans and a pale yellow pullover. His famous rugged face remains impassive except for something Ned notices: He's grinding his teeth.

His dad, he says, does this when he's upset. And why wouldn't he be?

Washington Post via MSNBC

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