Billy Graham 1918 – 2018

Famed evangelical Christian evangelist Billy Graham died. He was 99 years old.

I saw Billy Graham speak in person once. It was in 1990 while I was in the Air Force. I had just PCS’d (permanent change of station) – moved – from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to Griffiss Air Force Base in upstate New York. A friend I knew from Guam was also stationed at Griffiss and evidently, he had become somewhat religious since moving back to the mainland.

Billy Graham was speaking at an arena in Albany and my buddy from Guam wanted to go. He asked me if I’d go with him.

I figured, why not? I’d never been to Albany before. I was such a new arrival to New York, I hadn’t really been anywhere.

Paul and Jan Crouch.

Up until that point, the most famous evangelical Christian speaker I had seen was Paul Crouch. He, of course, was accompanied by his wife Jan. They were speaking not in a big fancy arena, but in the church in which I was raised in, the Lancaster First Assembly of God.

I don’t remember much of the Billy Graham event, other than it was extremely boring. In other words, it was just like attending services at the old Lancaster First Assembly of God. I do remember an announcement about protestors out front of the arena and how we were not to pay any attention to them.

I didn’t see any protesters when we entered the arena, but I was immediately intrigued. Why would anyone protest a Billy Graham event? I thought Billy Graham was loved by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Billy Graham and President Richard M. Nixon.

I don’t really understand the allure Billy Graham had with people. He was famous for ministering to presidents and other heads of state. I’m not sure why this was the case. It’s not like the message he was providing was special or different than all the other professional evangelical Christian.

Granted, most professional evangelical Christians have an ethical stink about them that turns most people off. One has to look no further than Paul and Jan Crouch to know what I’m talking about. Billy Graham was unique in that he didn’t have that stink about him. He didn’t come across as a dishonest scumball out to make a quick buck.

Paul Crouch, Billy Graham, and Jan Crouch.

With that said, Billy Graham did make a living, a very good living, telling people things that were factually not true. He spent his life telling people that unless they asked a man who lived over 2,000 years ago in the Palestine region of the Roman empire to come into their hearts, they would spend eternity burning in a giant lake of fire.

Billy Graham told millions of people this message even though there was absolutely no proof that substantiated any of it. Facts? Like all evangelical Christians, facts were nonexistent.

Billy Graham dealt with faith, not fact.

I’d probably look at Billy Graham differently if I could ignore all the damage he did in the name of his religion. How many gay and lesbian people were  made to feel subhuman because of the teachings of Billy Graham? Billy Graham taught homosexuality could be healed with prayer. How many families with a gay or lesbian member were forever fractured and destroyed because of Billy Graham’s message? We will never know, but the number is probably quite high.

There are undoubtedly some people feeling sad today because Billy Graham passed away, but I do not include myself in their numbers. Afterall, Billy Graham is now in Heaven with Jesus, right?

Right.

Charles Manson 1934 – 2017

Charles Manson is finally dead. He was 83.

I’m old enough to remember the fear he and his “family” caused the public. Charles Manson was clearly insane, yet he was condemned to rot in prison, not a mental institution for the rest of his natural life. He also wasn’t sent to the gas chamber, something you would think would be a no-brainer considering the death and terror he left in his wake. He was originally condemned to death, but when California invalidated the death penalty in 1972, his punishment was automatically commuted to life in prison. Then in 1978, California reinstituted the death penalty, but since Manson’s sentence was commuted to life, there was no backsies.

And yes, that was the legal term for it.

I’m glad Manson is dead. It’s one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

My favorite part about waking up this morning and finding out Charles Manson was dead was how CNN framed the story. On their website, they have a photo of Manson, followed by that awful and obnoxious Ball basketball family from California, followed by a photo of Sean Hannity looking incredibly constipated.

Of everyone shown, Hannity looks the most miserable.

The New York Post published an interesting cover.

Make room Satan, Charles Manson is finally going to Hell? Manson never personally killed anyone. His followers were the ones who did the actual killing. Manson wasn’t even present for the murder of actress Sharon Tate, undoubtedly the most infamous of the Manson Family victims.

I’d wager there were far worse people in Hell than Charles Manson if Hell actually existed.

Chris Cornell 1964 – 2017

I woke up this morning to discover that Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, died last night. He was 52.

Soundgarden was one of the creators of grunge music that came out of Seattle in the early 1990’s. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were more well known, but Soundgarden was by far my favorite.

It still is. There was something about the music Soundgarden produced. It had a unique raw energy created by lead guitarist Kim Thayil, coupled with Cornell’s dynamic voice.

When I first got my hands on Badmotorfinger, is was the only album I listened to. If it was possible to wear out a CD, I would have worn out my copy of Badmotorfinger.

Concert poster for Soundgarden at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington DC January 18th, 2013.

I haven’t been to many concerts, but I was lucky enough to see Soundgarden in 2013. They played at the DAR Constitution Hall in nearby Washington DC. They sounded as great as they had when I first heard them in 1991 on CD.

I was overcome with emotion when they began playing Rusty Cage. There I was listening to my favorite band play one of my favorite songs live and in person. Standing next to me was my wife Sheri, the love of my life and my best friend. Sheri is my only true friend. Sheri is the only friend I will ever want or need.

It was as though I was standing in a convergence of pure, unadulterated contentment.

It was a powerful feeling.

Fidel Castro is dead and that makes me happy

Long-time Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died Friday, November 25, 2016. He was 90 years old.

Fidel Castro was a terrible human being. Not only was he a Communist, but he was also a chronic human rights abuser, responsible for the death of thousands of his people. He also tried to convince the Soviet Union to initiate a first-strike nuclear attack against the United States, if the United States invaded Cuba and removed him from power.

The man was so power hungry that he would advocate a massive nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union if he were to lose power. What a dick.

If Fidel Castro provided anything positive, it was that he made for a great litmus test for rooting out assholes. Show me someone who said anything even remotely positive about Fidel Castro, and I’ll show you someone who is either ignorant of history or someone who is purposely trying to be an asshole.

For example, take a look at Twitter:

espn-castro-tweet
ESPN has since deleted their tweet about the sports-loving murderous tyrant.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had this to say about the dead tyrant:

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.

Dedication and love for the Cuban people? Were the thousands of Cubans Fidel Castro had thrown into prison or executed, for political reasons, not people? Justin Trudeau is an idiot.

I’m glad Fidel Castro is dead. Not only Cuba, but the world is a much better place without him in it. Too bad to took this long for him to take his rightful place in Hell next to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Robert E. Lee.