Tulsa's man of faith

oralroberts3If you want a play-by-play of Oral Roberts's life, look no further than Bill Sherman of the Tulsa World. Sherman's piece was one of the first posted when news first broke that Roberts had died and is jam packed with Roberts's chronology. For example, I didn't know this piece of info: "The O.W. Coburn School of Law opened in 1979, and in 1985 regents voted to give the school to CBN University--now Regent University--in Virginia Beach, Va." It's a pretty detailed list of the attempts and achievements Roberts made. What the piece might be missing, however, is a look at the impact Roberts made on the religious climate in Tulsa. Was he divisive in Tulsa's religious community or otherwise? The stories are at the top of the newspaper's "most viewed" and "most e-mailed," so it's clear that this was not just any Tulsa story (though the Tulsa story about a giraffe with a broken neck might steal some thunder).

Sam Hodges at the Dallas Morning News looks at his impact on northern Texas.

Based in nearby Oklahoma, Roberts had connections and influence that easily spilled over into Texas.

He preached here-a six-day tent crusade near Irving in 1962 drew about 60,000 people-and he was close to Gordon and Freda Lindsay, founders of Christ for the Nations, a Bible school in Oak Cliff.

"I have always admired Brother Roberts for his strong faith and believing in the supernatural gifting of healing and deliverance for the body of Christ," said Dennis Lindsay, current president of Christ for the Nations, where about 1,200 students pursue a charismatic, Holy Spirit-filled approach to education.

The Tulsa World editorial writers take a stab at his influence, saying that Roberts's lasting legacy for the city will be Oral Roberts University.

For some ill but a great deal more good, his ministry of miracles and a personal God changed Tulsa and the world.

We salute his life's accomplishments and wish his family and his followers comfort in this time of sorrow.

We know that they will hold fast to Roberts' often-repeated message that the final healing miracle would not be achieved in this world but in the next.

This conclusion seems a bit odd, as if they are sort of patting Roberts's fans on the back for believing Roberts's message. Nevertheless, they recognize his footprint on the city.

Reading several obituaries, it's interesting to see whether writers are noting how Roberts's son Richard Roberts left his post as head of the university in 2007 after he was accused of misusing university funds. (The Tulsa World's obituary does not mention it). You could probably make a few arguments for or against: It happened so recently, it set the university back for a time, or it has nothing to do with Oral Roberts himself.

Back to the Tulsa World's coverage, it offers an impressive section of archived stories, videos, slide shows and a timeline. From a technical standpoint, it's pretty easy to navigate, though it would be convenient if they had set a hyperlink for each page. The section also offers an timeline of events, and apart from the irritating bubble that pops up, it's interesting to see when the Tulsa World and formerly the Tulsa Tribune covered an event and when it did not (more often than not). The newspaper continues to cover his death by getting reaction from university students and reporting on the public memorial.

Overall, kudos to Sherman, who is probably working overtime this week.

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