Breaking news: Monument removed
As 100 or so protesters prayed, restrained by city police and ordered by organizers not to rush the building, a moving crew hauled the 5,280-pound Ten Commandments monument out of Alabama's Judicial Building this morning. It took them about 90 minutes. More tomorrow.

Melvin Graham, farmer and lay evangelist, dies
One day before his 79th birthday, Melvin Graham, "Billy's country brother," died of cardiac arrest.

"Melvin was not only my brother, but was one of the closest and most loyal friends I ever had," Billy Graham said in a press release.

I had the opportunity to spend two days with Melvin last week. He was a great storyteller. He made people feel good. I never knew him to have a bad moment. My only suggestion to him was not to work so hard. I have never known a man to love work like he did.
Melvin was one of the best men in terms of personal life. He was a man of spiritual dedication and moral purity. He was generous with his time and money for the Kingdom of God, and assisted many needy people that no one ever knew about.

The third of four Graham children, Melvin followed in his parents' farming footsteps and served as a board member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association from 1985 until 1999, when he became a board member emeritus. He also preached.

"He was very good-natured," evangelist Leighton Ford, who is married to Billy Graham's younger sister, told The Charlotte Observer. "But he had a serious side to him. He had a depth to him."

A memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow evening at Charlotte's Central Church of God. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has a audio of Melvin's testimony from Hour of Decision. The Luis Palau Association used to have a version of the testimony, as retold by Ford, but it's only available through Google's cache.

In related news, Billy and Ruth Graham celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this month.

Sermon illustration alert!
Here's a The New York Times story all pastors will want to put in their notes: On Sunday, leaders of the Church of the Holy Cross in Midtown Manhattan noted that the congregation had been robbed—but in an odd way.

"They just decided, 'We're going to leave the cross and take Jesus,'" caretaker David St. James told the newspaper. "We don't know why they took just him. We figure if you want the whole crucifix, you take the whole crucifix."

That's America for you: they want Jesus without the cross.

More (and Moore) articles

Roy Moore's Ten Commandments fight—news and analysis:

Article continues below
  • Ruling divides evangelical Christians | Evangelical Christians are divided over whether Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's 5,280-pound granite monument bearing a replica of the Ten Commandments should remain in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building (The Washington Times)

  • Protesters turn to Pryor | Approximately 150 protesters supporting the Ten Commandments monument marched up Dexter Avenue past the Capitol to the State House and demanded Attorney General Bill Pryor's resignation Tuesday (Montgomery Advertiser)

  • Pryor: Dismiss backers' lawsuit | Ala. Attorney General says court has no jurisdiction in the case (The Birmingham News)

  • Moore violates GOP beliefs | Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his supporters have started violating Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: Never speak ill of a fellow Republican (Associated Press)

  • New effort made to halt removal of monument | Religious activists seek a federal restraining order to keep a display of the Ten Commandments. Alabama's attorney general is criticized (Los Angeles Times)

  • Justice refutes Giles claims | Christian Coalition of Alabama head had said Moore and his staff had been unfairly treated (Montgomery Advertiser)

  • Debate about monument may affect election | Some independent political observers said the media attention on Moore has at least changed the dynamic of the tax debate (Mobile Register)

  • Protesters form community on steps | Portable toilets and cots brought in for Moore supporters (The Huntsville Times)

  • Final days for Commandments monument | The controversial Ten Commandments monument at the Alabama Judicial Building will be removed by the end of the week, the state's attorney general said Tuesday (CNN)

  • Commandments fray goes beyond Alabama | Christian proponents have been on the losing end of legal battles, but many now feel energized by a new cause (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Alabama judge thrives on controversy | Moore's many critics fear that setbacks will only make the iron-willed jurist stronger (The Orlando Sentinel)

Roy Moore's Ten Commandments fight—opinion:

  • Affronts and provocations | What actual harm is Roy's Rock doing to any American? (John Derbyshire, National Review Online)

  • Religious symbols are what you make of them | The more the protesters pray, kneel and prostrate themselves before Moore's imposing rock, the more they undercut their case for keeping it on display on public property (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)

  • Roy's rock | We need to respect the rule of law, but whence do we get this reverence for law, for a few dusty words on paper, interpreted by always fallible and sometimes malicious, ambitious or ignorant men and women in funny costumes? (Maggie Gallagher)

Article continues below
  • Two tons of morality | Those engaged in the controversy in Alabama seem to have lost sight of the Ten Commandments' real meaning (Roy Hoffman, The New York Times)

  • Misinterpreting freedom of religion | Alabama's many, many fundamentalists are being stirred by a demagogue who is fanning their passions, winning their vote loyalty and garnering ever-greater power for himself (James A. Haught, The Charleston Gazette, W.V.)

  • Another diversion | Moore supporters initiate new legal action (Editorial, The Birmingham News)

  • Roy's rock | Alabama residents are wreaking a nasty revenge on the woman who took their state's chief justice to court over his religious monument (Eleanor Clift, Newsweek)

  • George Wallace revisited | Chief Justice Moore tries demagoguery again in Alabama (Editorial, The Day, New London, Ct.)

Murder of ex-priest jailed for sex abuse:

Article continues below

Remembrance of MLK's 1963 March:

  • Reliving King's 'dream' | Speech was a highlight of 1963 March on Washington (The Washington Post)

  • Groups gather to commemorate March on Washington | Under a thematic banner of jobs and justice, a coalition of groups dedicated to civil, human and economic rights have converged here this weekend to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington, the mass protest that helped bring about some of the most critical social legislation in the nation's history (The New York Times)

  • Old dream and new issues 40 years after rights march | As civil rights advocates, old and new, gather this weekend to commemorate what many consider the high point of the struggle for equal rights, they are also taking stock of the movement itself — what it is today, how it got that way, and what it must say, do and become to maintain its relevance (The New York Times)

Article continues below
  • Thousands gather in Washington to remember 1963 march and plan for the future | Lengthy list of speakers this weekend reflected the diversity of causes ushered in over the last 40 years because of the legal and victories won in the 1960's (The New York Times)

  • A beacon of tough hope | Forty years ago this week, a young priest helped organize his parishioners in Harlem to join Martin Luther King Jr. in the great March on Washington (E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post)

  • New era urged to build on King's 'dream' | Activists rally to mark the anniversary of the slain civil rights leader's 1963 address and to 'recapture the spirit that we had 40 years ago' (Los Angeles Times)

  • Michael Eric Dyson: Telling it any way he can | His forms of communicating may be various — he is a Baptist minister, a distinguished professor of the humanities, a biographer, essayist, columnist for a hip-hop magazine — but his message is uniform: Americans must face their racism, no matter how painful the task (The Washington Post)

  • Also: The writing life | A social critic reads before he rights the world — just as he reads before he writes it (Michael Eric Dyson, The Washington Post)

Uniting Church gay clergy controversy:

  • Church apologizes, but will stand by gay clergy decision | The standing committee has said in a statement that the church probably could have handled the controversy more sensitively, but it also says the church will not recall the national assembly (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Hardliners want clock turned back | Conservative members of the Uniting Church in Australia have launched another offensive on their national body, in a bid to prevent the church from sliding into what they see as heresy (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Aftermath of Episcopal Church gay bishop appointment:

  • Vandals strike again | Holy Spirit Episcopal Church was targeted by vandals Aug. 6, with only moderate damage reported (Graham Leader, Tex.)

  • Dioceses threaten to cut off their tithes | Unable to block the recent election of the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, conservatives in the Episcopal Church are threatening to try to bankrupt the denomination's liberal leadership (The Washington Times)

  • Also: Gay Episcopalian bishop still opposed | Several Episcopal parishes and a diocese that opposed confirming the denomination's first openly gay bishop are now withholding donations to church leaders in protest (Associated Press)

Article continues below

The Passion:

  • The last vexation of Mel | How a Hollywood star's indie project on Jesus' Passion became the most hotly debated film in years (Time)

  • Also: The problem with Passion | Is it possible to do a biblically accurate drama about Jesus' trial and death without feeding anti-Semitism? (Time)

  • Mel Gibson 'Passion' film causing uproar | The uproar over Mel Gibson's upcoming film on Jesus' death is testing the unusual partnership between American Jews and evangelical Protestants, who have recently become among the staunchest supporters of Israel (Associated Press)

  • Studios develop a 'Passion' | Paramount Classics, Sony Pictures Classics, Lions Gate and Newmarket are reported by Variety to be on a short list of studios whose acquisition executives will see the movie (New York Post)

  • UK Jews voice Gibson film worries | Representatives of British Jews have said they want an "early" chance to see Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion, about the killing of Christ, according to reports (BBC)

  • Why Gibson's film provokes Passions | The nature of religious movies, which tend to rely on one viewpoint to the detriment of another, often cause controversy (BBC)

Missions and ministry:

Article continues below
  • Net Christian Café serves up romance | Christian Café is one of the busiest online destinations for men and women who are not looking for love in all the wrong places (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)

  • Hard men who found Jesus | Perhaps the government should consider turning to the Bible for solutions to crime statistics. For, it seems that the good book is succeeding, at least in London's East End, where villains are finding redemption through the power of prayer (Greg Watts, The Guardian, London)

  • Canal Street | What will save this neighborhood? (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Interfaith group seeks to help | Looks for way to air plight of immigrants (The Arizona Republic)

Iraq baptisms:

  • Some U.S. soldiers in Iraq seek baptisms | With war and death on his mind, Spc. Barry Page was baptized Sunday in the Tigris River by an Army chaplain at the sprawling U.S. military headquarters on the fabled river's banks (Associated Press)

  • Baptism in the Tigris for U.S. soldiers | For many of the 132,000 American soldiers occupying Iraq, religion is an important solace as they face loneliness, hardship and the possibility of losing their lives (Reuters)

Other religions:

  • Voodoo losing power among Haitian poor | Although millions still practice voodoo — now a state-sanctioned religion in Haiti — some are turning their backs on the religion brought from Africa, testing other faiths as their Caribbean country grapples with growing instability and poverty (Associated Press)

  • 'Pagan' panther's removal from county land sought | A lone woman stood before Tarrant County commissioners on Tuesday, insisting that the bronze statue of a panther be removed from government grounds because it represents "paganism." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

  • Changing tactics speed growth of Jehovah's Witnesses | Jehovah's Witnesses once conveyed their message almost exclusively door-to-door. But the increase in high-rise apartments — coupled with a declining chance of finding anyone at home during the day — has prompted new tactics. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • Buddhist academy stirs hope of revival in Hawaii | Hawaii's first Buddhist high school, the Pacific Buddhist Academy, was dedicated in Honolulu on Wednesday (The New York Times)


Article continues below

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

Check out Books & Culture's weblog, Content & Context.

See our past Weblog updates:

August 26 | 25
August 22 | 21 | 20 | 19 | 18
August 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11
August 8 | 7b | 7a | 6 | 5 | 4
July 30 | 29 | 28
July 25 | 24 | 23 | 22 | 21
July 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14
and more, back to November 1999