34 / CHRONICLESnLetter FromnMarylandnby Martin Morse WoosternRendezvous With BillynThe established church in Washingtonndidn’t know what to make of BillynGraham.nBy “established church,” I don’tnmean the main-line Protestantnchurches: They were too busy trying tonconvert their churches into instrumentsnof Democratic foreign policy toncare very much about religion. Thenonly established church that counts innWashington, as everyone knows, is thenWashington Post.nWhen Graham was last in Washington,nin the early 1970’s, he wasnclothed by the media in the tatteredngarments reserved for close friends ofnRichard Nixon. In the past decade,nhowever, Graham’s successors—JerrynFalwell, Pat Robertson, JimmynSwaggart—had superseded him, creatingnvast fund-raising machines thatndwarfed anything Graham had produced.nIn the Post’s eyes, Graham wasnstill a Fundamentalist Ghristian, yetnthere was no Billy Graham University,nno Billy Graham City of Faith, andnGraham had never passed judgmentnon whether or not God approved of thenU.S. Department of Education. ThenPosf could not damn him too heavily.nThe Post’s religion editor, botherednwith actually covering religion insteadnCORRESPONDENCEnof her usual beat of watching bureaucratsnmerge the main-line Protestantnchurches into the United Ghurch ofnEverything, listlessly went to the firstnnight’s sermon and pronounced thenaffair “a spiritual Tupperware party.”nThe Post’s feature writer, Paul Hendrickson,nwho previously bored thousandsnwith a book detailing his effortsnto quit the Catholic Church, flailednabout trying to find the finest metaphornto hang Graham. Graham lookednhke “he was descended from somenprehistoric Blue Ridge tribe” . . . no,nhe was “Daniel Boone in golf togs”n. . . no, his voice was “medieval, as ifnhe had just stepped from a castle on anheath.” . . .nWhat Billy Graham is, of course, isnthe end of a tradition. Television transformednthe nature of evangelism; it’snfar safer to try to reach people throughntelevision (where you can combinenshort sermons with long appeals fornmoney) than to have to go on a crusadenand convince a huge audience.nOnly Billy Graham still had thenstrength to face the public on his ownnterms. I had to hear him.nGraham’s audience was unusual fornWashington. There were no protesters,nexcept for an old crank with anbedraggled sign saying “JESUSnCHRIST WILLED MARINE HOL­nOCAUST; I WARNED THE WHITEnHOUSE,” and a few people fromn”World Peacemakers” urging Graham’snflock to quit worrying about thisngospel stuff and fret instead about allnDOETRY OUKNALnEdited by Jane Greer. Traditional poetic conventions used in vigorous,ncompelling new works. Heartening manifesto for SASE. $3.50/sample.nPlains Poetry Journal, P.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, ND 58502nnnthe “true Christians” being tortured byncontras in Nicaragua. (The Sandinistas,nof course, were squeaky clean.)nI walked in and sat in the press box,nand began to absorb the press releases.nBilly Graham blistered the world inn1985; first in Miami, then in Hartford,nthen in England, and finally in SouthernnCalifornia, where 95,000 peoplencrammed into the 80,000 seats in AnaheimnStadium “creating a breathtakingnspectacle … an 8.5 on the Lord’snRichter scale.”nI wasn’t about to measure audiencesnon the Richter Scale of Eternity, butnthe night I was there, there weren17,498 ordinary Americans and twonpoliticians. Senator John Stennis (D-nMississippi) and Interior SecretarynDonald Hodel. I wasn’t sure where allnthe other politicians were; no doubtnthey were throwing lightning bolts atneach other, recharging their batteries,nor whatever people do at “power parties.”nThe service began with Mr, GeorgenHamilton IV, a cousin of the tanningnartist, who sang a few insipid hymnsnand sank into the shadows. Then Mr.nDave Roever, a Vietnam veteran whondiscovered Christ after having a fragmentationngrenade blown up in hisnface, told stories about the struggle henhad to recuperate. “I have an artificialnear,” Roever said. “When people ask,n’How do you play the piano?’ I say, ‘Bynear,’ and show it to them. …”nRoever disappeared, and GeorgenBeverly Shea (a 40-year-veteran ofnGraham crusades) began to lead thenaudience in a series of increasinglynrousing hymns. First came “When WenAll Get to Heaven,” with its jauntynrhythm; then “Victory in Jesus,” andnfinally “God of Our Fathers.”n”God of our fathers, whose almightynhand leads forth in beauty all thenstarry band. …” As soon as thenchoir sang “starry,” Graham rose fromnsomewhere and strode to the stage.nGraham is still majestic in his twilight.nAge has ennobled him; his hairnhas grown into a silvery-brown mane,nand his face, still, as always, an Ameri-n