Friday, July 18, 2008
Billy Graham at TED Talks
I was surfing around and was amazed when I stumbled across a link of Billy Graham speaking at TED Talks from 1989. It looks like they posted it for the first time just this month. Of course Billy Graham and TED Talks is on the face of it, a bizarre match. As a teen and young adult, Billy Graham was for me pretty easy target of scorn: a proseletyzer, an establishment figure, a Nixon associate. Yet the Ted Talks people counted him, at age 80, among the remarkable worth listening to. (Other surprising people have given him an audience too, such as Woody Allen.) I have to admit that it's hard not to be in awe of someone like Billy Graham---Johnny Cash was another---who has survived on the cultural landscape as long as he has, commanding audiences by just doing his thing. He didn't end up disgraced like a Nixon or a Richard J. Daley, was never unmasked as a hypocrite or fraud, and didn't cling desperately to his fame by reinventing himself every few years. His TED Talk was interesting, and although not earth shattering, what shines through is his sincerity, empathy and intelligence, and that makes his message worth considering.