Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The seeds of the fathers

 If Franklin Graham was not the seed of Billy Graham, the country would hear nothing about what he thinks on anything. He was the wild child who came back to the fold and now leads Billy Graham's foundation. So the news media was full of his comments after 9/11. Even though the Pentagon dis-invited him from speaking at a recent [prayer day] due to his statements on Islam and other religions, he was just asked whether Obama is a Muslim.
"I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name," Graham said on CNN's "John King, USA."
"Now it's obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That is what he says he has done, I cannot say that he hasn't. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said,"
Graham added: “The teaching of Islam is to hate the Jew, to hate the Christian, to kill them. Their goal is world domination.” 
This is so outrageous that it's hard to know where to start but let's begin with Franklin  himself. Without his father being Billy Graham, he would be at the most preaching to a small congregation spewing out his fundamentalist creed.  Billy has earned him a voice that takes him to a higher realm of respect than children of other more political preachers of his era (i.e. Robertson, Dobson, or Falwell).

Billy Graham earned respect from Christian and non-Christian from his simple lifestyle and how he stuck to the Gospel for his life work. Now that upset a lot of people when he'd go somewhere like South Africa and not speak out against Apartheid or when he'd counsel presidents of either party but he didn't see politics or social mores as his responsibility. Right or wrong, Billy believed that Jesus was the answer to anybody's problems anywhere and he stuck to that creed where I have never heard of him saying a hateful thing. People might not like hearing that without Jesus, they will go to hell, but that has been Christian doctrine and Billy believed it with all his heart and preached it.

His son is a horse of a different color and he has spoken very politically especially as he spoke out against Islam after 9/11 around the time he was fully taking over his father's foundations and ministry. He has said those who accept Islam as a religion are enslaved (actually Christianity talks about enslavement once you accept Christ as master also... kind of typical of religions).

The problem with Franklin is that a lot of people take what he says as seriously as though he was his father because he is the seed of his father and doesn't that mean something? Don't we inherit whatever our parents were? That is the thinking of some and it's why what he said was so disgusting regarding the seed of Obama's father.

In some ways Franklin was a liar by omission. He could have mentioned that he and his father were asked to pray with Obama just this year in April-- Obama meets with Billy Graham. Obama is the first president to travel to Graham's home. Franklin could have simply said we prayed together and it's what he said and how else do we know anyone's faith?  From where did this seed talk come?

What he said was ignorant the reality of Obama's life, where his father had left Islam before Obama was born; but that doesn't matter as what he did say suits a certain fearful segment of American culture. Contrary to what Franklin said, Obama never had to renounce Islam because he was never a Muslim and the very suggestion that he would be because of his birthright probably comes more from Franklin's own belief that he deserves all that his father built.

When Obama wrote of his father's roots, which he knew little about as he was a very tiny part of Obama's childhood, he talked of the tribal diversity in Africa as a way to try and understand his father. [Now I have not read Obama's books; so am going by what is in articles about them for this information.]

Then I began to wonder why John King, who did the CNN interview, asked Franklin to speak about it. We know why as it has been used politically as part of the smear tactics against Obama. Might someone, possibly Franklin himself, have suggested he'd like to speak on it? Did he want to speak out on it because he still harbored a resentment over being disinvited to the Pentagon prayer day? Did he blame Obama for that and took this as a chance to get back at him?

For some reason... hard to imagine what that might be... what Obama says about his own faith isn't enough. Seeing that Obama doesn't pray five times a day isn't enough. Noticing he eats pork and drinks alcohol isn't enough. Some people, and a growing number of them Americans, most of them Republicans, think he's lied about his Christianity. Skip the part where it would be impossible to practice Islam in secret (something a Christian could do but should not either). Obama has a long record in public where hiding those practices would be very difficult. Logic isn't part of why this is being asked.

For me the problem, the only problem with making Obama's religion an issue is it makes me even more convinced that a certain segment of our population is ignorant and easily led. I worry about that. If they are, if they will buy into something like the seed of a father being what a son must be, if his father was Muslim anyway, then who knows what else that 18% will believe or support.

For many Christians, Franklin's comments are no big deal. The fact that he's a religious fundamentalist isn't either as it's in their religion at least. After all, he's not a violent extremist. He doesn't encourage blowing up buildings. He just says things like,
 “We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion."
 Notice how he missed the point that Islam didn't attack us. Religious fanatics, using Islam as a justification, attacked us. Did Christianity kill Dr. Tiller?  Does Franklin want to take responsibility as a Christian for every bad thing done in its name? If so, he's got a lot of weight he's putting on his back.

What is upsetting especially, about his using the word seed to imply that a seed is planted and the person cannot escape its consequences, is that it's subtle and very damning to those who already fear Obama for his color. Seed means it will come out someday. To me it's like the bad seed thinking. It also is the kind of thing that people take in subliminally without thinking but it impacts them unless they see it for what it is-- a manipulative tactic.

Yes, I do fear fundamentalists like Franklin. I have been in churches and seen how it operates and seen how often it's accompanied by hypocrisy. I have no use for them in any religion at all and see them as part of the destroyer group in our world today-- and that means in any religion.

Fundamentalists might not all throw bombs but they, like Franklin Graham, throw ideas that are as deadly to human quality of life as any bomb for how they can destroy cultures for freedom of thinking and really even joy in anything but hate of the 'other.'  Fundamentalists need there to be an 'other' and they feed and nurture the fear. They water the hate as it helps them grow their own plants stronger-- or so they think.

What I think is fundamentalism builds mobs, not responsible, thinking, mature groups. Fundamentalism in any religion is damaging to spiritual growth despite what they always claim. What it grows is something totally different from connection to any god nor does it help any culture it dominates. It doesn't allow dissent. It threatens whatever doesn't agree with it. It grows those with no spirit, no ability to think through facts. I wouldn't care so much about that as it's after all not something I am forced into-- at least not in our country for now; but it is damaging to us all as it spreads out and blocks growth of anything else. And it votes...


Paul said...

Rain ,as you know , ideas are more powerful than bombs. And both Al Qaeda and Franklin Graham know that. Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed did too.

Parapluie said...

I wonder why people want to believe garbage. Is it lingering anger from our fathers learned before we could understand and speak? Is it fear needing to be vented, seeking the easiest path like lightening? Like lightening the object upon which the anger is released need not make any sense. The venting of electrical forces is randomly destructive.
I read the Obama books and see in his early development his mother as an example of an openess and love of diverse peoples.

Ashleigh Burroughs said...

Too true, Rain, too true. It's hard to prove a negative, and anyway what difference would it make? The need to divide in order to conquer, to demonize instead of rationally consider the information, the ability of loud-mouthed sons of famous people to reach a podium where other, quieter, more sane and gentle voices cannot .... I don't share Billy's beliefs but I've always respected him as an honorable apolitical religious leader. They are few and far between. Conflating religious fervor with political rantings leads to things like 9/11.

I worry for our world.

Darlene said...

I think this is a wonderful post and I agree. Fundamentalists have done more to destroy religion than any other thing. It is a cult based on the need to have someone else do their thinking for them. It is radical and dangerous whether it is the Catholic inquisition, the Muslim terrorist or the Christian abortionists killing in the name of Jesus. What is wrong with these people? I will never understand.

wally said...

The idea that you can inherit a religion is absurd to me. The Jewish people are an ethnic group whose religion is closely bound to their ethnicity. But a Jewish person can convert to Christianity, Islam, or Zoroastrianism if he so choses, yet he still retains his Jewish ethnicity. My parents were Baptists. Was I born a Baptist? No, my ethinicity is Scottish. I can convert to Judaism, Islam, etc. but I will still be Scottish.

Parapluie said...

As an artist, I find inside myself a transformation departing from the ways of our culture. Being involved in the creative process is very satisfying. Creative expression directs anger possitively. Focus on making rather than tearing down is very healthy and healing. Debating politics and the act of trying to convert others to my way of thinking has not worked for me.
The more I paint the more I want to explore. I am not so interested in making a product of art to sell. What I hope to do is engage my grandchildren and friends in creating.
One of my projects is a chess puzzle for a group of four or more. It is a co-operative game inwhich all the pieces are used except the pawns. One person is the time keeper and historian who writes down the placement of the pieces and the moves. The diplomats who move the pieces must move all the pieces to the opposite end of the board from their starting place in the fewest possible moves. The game is made more complex by stationing pieces on two white boarders and two plack boarders. The diplomats win when they all have moved their pieces to the opposite side without blocking other pieces. Before the timer is started there is a long untimed creative discussion and treaty making process.

Annotated Margins said...

To me, the world often seems to be one giant good ol' boy network, and the network is so fundamental.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Deliver me, PLEASE!!!!

All I can say about Franklin, IS...OY VEY!