Billy Graham has pneumonia

Not uncommon for a man his age (93) but so far his spirits are fine, even if his lungs are not.

Doctors at the hospital in Asheville said Graham was able to stand and walk Friday during a physical therapy session.

Dr. Mark Hellreich, a pulmonologist treating Graham, said he’s making good clinical progress and looks better since treatment with antibiotics began.

Graham has suffered from several ailments in recent years. He was admitted to the hospital Wednesday night after suffering from congestion, a cough and a slight fever that was later diagnosed as pneumonia.

I have a history in this blog of mocking challenging his advice. It’s kind of been a once-a-month habit for me to put an atheist spin on various questions “asked” on his column. (I put that in quotations because it’s been debated that questions are assembled by staff and aren’t specific letters sent to him.) If he takes a turn for the worse, he’ll be missed for that reason, if nothing else.

In 2007, Christopher Hitchens called him a “self-conscious fraud” who didn’t believe what he preached and was instead in it for the money. Time Magazine took Hitchens to task for that, suggesting that his proof for that was erroneous. The article further notes that Graham has since apologized for his comments and attitude toward Jews back in 1972.

When we asked Graham about the conversation, his shame was obvious, and he confessed to the other fault at work that day — his sycophancy, the courtier’s habit of trying to win favor with the king by embracing even his most odious ideas. “I think I was just trying to agree with what he[Richard Nixon] said or something,” Graham told us. Hitchens may reject Graham’s many apologies if he chooses, and discount his remorse more evidence of fraud. But rational people should have a hard time accepting Hitchens’ characterization of Graham as “a disgustingly evil man.”

His preaching on radio and television reached millions and there’s little doubt he changed lives; Wikipedia notes the number his staff reports: at least 3.2 million born-again Christians on account of his efforts. Not evil, maybe, but people could debate the good, depending on what kind of Christians they ultimately became. I don’t like to come down on the group as a whole because that’s how unfair generalizations start. Of course there are terrific and kind people who happen to be Christians, just as there are terrific and kind people who happen to be atheists.

His last Crusade was held in New York in June of 2005. His health had already been an issue, with water on the brain, Parkinson’s and prostate cancer on top of that. He was expected to speak each of the three nights to a crowd of 70,000 or so and here it’s reported that 250,000 turned out to hear him over those days. He’s always been open to all stripes of Christians coming by, too, not just the Baptists. The Fox article linked to at the start of this paragraph also notes his unwillingness to paint Islam with a dirty brush.

his son, Franklin Graham…called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion,” the elder Graham has refused to join in and denounce it.

“He simply will not engage in the demonizing of Islam,” Cox said. “[He believes] that the real struggle in the clash of civilizations is in poverty and disease.”

He’s contradicted himself in terms of who should get into heaven, though, according to the In Plain Site article linked in the same paragraph. The author of that mentions Graham saying God will decide and it’s not up to men to say, and that he’s also said that people need Jesus in order to get there.

Either way, I’m sure Graham expects he’ll get there in the end. Whenever the end is.

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