29 June 2005
“Great mane of white hair.” “Piercing blue eyes.” “Simple, unaffected.” “In the twilight of his years.” “His eyes shined.” “American Christianity at its best.” Want more? Cliches aplenty and a tin ear for the real fire at the heart of Billy Graham‘s gospel in Newsweek‘sdouble–barreled, deeply pandering appeal to conservative Christian readers, “Backstage at Billy Graham’s Final Crusade,” and “Behind Billy Graham’s New York Crusade.” Behind, in lockstep, that is.
If you prefer newsier fare, the magazine offers this in-depth health report on the power of prayer — to help you shed pounds! Sample question: “Is a certain faith more metabolically effective than others?” We hear Islam as practiced at Gitmo is very slimming.
Newsweek knows when to pull its punches. For instance, in its report on Jeb Bush‘s decision to investigate Michael Schiavo, widely seen as a sop to Christian conservatives who feel betrayed by Jeb’s brother on the issue, the magazine protects its sources from the powerful: “‘This wasn’t a position taken for the purpose of pandering,’ says one political adviser who was surprised by Bush’s intervention and who asked not to be named to avoid appearing disloyal. ‘It’s based entirely on his strong personal bias for protecting life.'” Phew! Heads would surely roll if Jeb knew who said he wants to protect life!
Newsweek has a lighter side when it comes to faith, too. “Actor Tom Cruise,” jokes “funnyman” Andy Borowitz, “stunned the worlds of cinema and space travel today, bidding Earth farewell forever as he returned to his planet of origin.” Tee-hee-hee! Do you get it? Scientology is weird!
It’s a sad day when the only halfway decent religion journalism in a magazine comes fromGeorge Will, writing a decent high school book report on an eight-year-old text about the most over-covered religion story of the last century.