Christopher Columbus  (1451-1506)

     The more ancient the subjects the more speculative their flaws. However Columbus, possibly more than any other historical figure, has been judged wanting by modern laws. Although he lived more than 300 years before slavery was condemned, he is condemned for taking Native Americans as slaves. No allowance is made for the fact that these captives were his proof that he had found a land no western European had ever seen. He 'conquered' lands, never mind that all powerful adventurers had done that very thing for thousands of years. He is accused of being a shameless profiteer, seeking gold, making no allowance that his sponsors demanded profit. Moderns scoff at his religion as hypocrisy, although few moderns devote a fraction of the time Columbus devoted to revering Christ. Modern secular scholars do not criticize him for taking a mistress, for this is behavior they now condone. Such is modern liberal revisionism. Thus Encarta rages against his 'claiming land for Spain' from 'uncomprehending natives', never mind that he was the most skilled, most daring , most imaginative seafarer in history.
     Certainly Columbus was a poor colonial administrator but that was a failing of ability. However he did exhibit true moral failings - faults that would be recognized as such Biblically. He demanded tribute in gold from conquered natives - under threat of death - in amounts that were impossible to fulfill. He also made heavy demands on his fellow travelers. And although well-spoken and tactful - after all, he had to sell his proposals to people with money - he seldom showed appreciation for help he received. He was imperiously ungrateful. 'How could they not help such a righteous cause?' he seemed to think. Another real flaw was his complaining. He was not one to suffer in silence very long. Ashore - where he was ever restless and unfulfilled - he vented complaints against whomever he thought prevented his next voyage.

Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus by Samuel Eliot Morison, 1942]

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Frederick the Wise (1463-1525)

The anecdote for Frederick the Wise is available HERE.

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Billy Graham (1918-alive)

     Billy is touted even by secular press as the man who has had the ear of American presidents. His friendship with presidents was no accident, but resulted from endless petitioning on his part and the part of his evangelical organization. After his blundered beginning with President Truman he endeared himself to President 'Ike' Eisenhower, patiently allowed himself to be used by Kennedy, then cemented his role as unofficial pastor or spiritual advisor to the White House with Johnson and Nixon. He kept that role through Clinton - nine presidents over a period of nearly 50 years. Certainly the presidents enjoyed the moral tone his friendship lent their presidency, just as certainly as Billy enjoyed the prestige gained from these friendships to help his crusades.
     But at what price to Billy?
     For he did pay a price. First, with those presidents who were open to his contribution he played politics. Although he insisted publicly he was out of politics he schemed political strategies, particularly with Nixon. Or he was used by presidents to swing opinions. At Johnson's request he visited Vietnam, then praised heroic efforts of American servicemen in a war they were 'certainly winning' although privately he believed they were not winning. For Reagan Billy lobbied several senators to vote for sale of planes to Saudi Arabia. Publicly in the 1980's he disdained political efforts by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as if he had never involved himself with politics.
     The second price he paid was to shelve his moral judgment. Situations that cried out for lucid comments if not outright condemnations by a spiritual leader - Vietnam of Kennedy and Johnson, Watergate of Nixon, numerous sleazy escapades of Clinton - received the mildest of rebukes from Billy, rebukes often cloaked in obscure doubletalk worthy of any politician. This suspension of righteousness apparently was what he and his organization deemed necessary to maintain his close ties to the White House. In the 1990's his grown children took the roles of 'bad cops', condemning certain acts, so Billy could remain the 'good cop'.

A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story by William Martin, 1991]

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Columbus did not suffer in silence!

Billy Graham

Truman later called Billy a 'counterfeit'. The first president to confide in Billy was 'Ike'.

"My father would have bragged about cleaning this house)…"

T. D. Jakes  (1957-alive)

     The flood of royalties from the best-selling Woman, Thou Art Loosed! in 1993 ended the long poverty of the Jakes family. T. D. bought a 16-room house in Charleston, West Virginia. He added an indoor pool and a bowling alley. He bought two Mercedes Benz cars. He began to wear tailored suits. He traveled first-class. He acquired jewelry. He wasn't so naïve as to think no one would question his life of luxury. But his profits were not from his ministry. Profits were from Woman, Thou Art Loosed! and subsequent counseling books. He worked long extra hours to get his books out. How could people question whether he had a right to collect the profits? But the local newspaper waited until he held a Bible conference in Charleston, then instead of focusing on the conference it questioned the hypocrisy of his extravagant life style.
     "He was not pleased," said a friend, noting Jakes had just brought 10,000 visitors into Charleston.
     In fact T. D. was so furious at what he perceived to be Charleston's ingratitude that he moved his ministry to Dallas in 1996. But he did not back off his personal indulgences. In the ultra-rich Lakewood area, next to the mansion of billionaire H. L. Hunt, he bought a mansion with eight bathrooms, five fireplaces and a pool. "My father would have bragged about cleaning (this house)," he said. Nevertheless his life style was constantly questioned. He dismissed it as white cultural bias. He told a newspaper, "A lot of non-black cultures define Christian ministry…with taking a vow of poverty…We as African-Americans tend to see ministers in a different light…our first professionals were preachers." He expanded, "Our (African American) community needs positive role models. We have young men in our community who believe they will never be allowed to have what others have. And they are so imprisoned by this that they turn to crime and violence." Defensively he added, "I don't think I've tried to flaunt it, nor have I tried to hide it. If it's not dishonest or illegal, it's irrelevant."

[sources: Wall Street Journal (August 21, 1998), Dallas Morning News (July 5, 1997), People magazine (November 9, 1998)]

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