April 6, 2017
Three who kept the communists at bay in popular culture
By Susan D. Harris
When I was young, there were three people of import who held me spellbound when they spoke: William F. Buckley Jr., Reverend Billy Graham, and Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Each one of them seemed to hold within themselves a palpable, direct line to God. Each one taught lessons that left you leaning back in your chair contemplating some great life-changing concept that often evoked an epiphany. To top things off, each one spoke with such authority, held such charisma, and exuded such a vibrant personality that nary anyone that drew breath could ignore them.
Recently I had occasion to recall Bishop Sheen with my friend Sr. Mary. Though I grew up Protestant (and still am), there was always silence in my house when Sheen's television show, "Life is Worth Living," came on. It is estimated his show, which originally ran opposite Milton Berle (then known as Mr. Television" because of his enormous popularity) on Tuesday nights in the 1950's, drew as many as 10 million viewers. Later he had another program, "The Fulton Sheen Program." (To be clear, I was born well after Sheen's original shows, and only saw them in reruns which continued on broadcast stations through the 1990's. Later they were shown on EWTN, the Global Catholic Network.)
What was particularly striking was that although Sheen's shows were taped years before, they always seemed applicable to current events. His subjects were deep and diverse; I can name no one else, for instance, that was talking about Fyodor Dostoyevsky on television in 1956. Sheen taught his audience thus:
More than ever in its history, America needs to hear Sheen's words – and others.
They need to hear Billy Graham's Crusades like this one where he educated his audience on the Red Guard Revolution in China, telling them, "You'll find a lot of the sayings of Mao Zedong have been taken right out of the Bible and applied to Communism...or to his brand of Communism." (Reverend Graham is 98 years old; his son Franklin has taken over his ministry).
They need to watch William F. Buckley Jr. as he explains the House Un-American Activities Committee routing out Communists in post-WWII Hollywood:
The topics these men covered and the lessons they shared are more important to the welfare of America now than when they were originally spoken. They were all standard-bearers of their time, a time that seems long ago, but is still oh so relevant today.
All three men helped educate a generation and drove back the invading Communist-Socialist-Fascist all-consuming blob that eventually became today's Democratic Party.
An old George Jones song lamented the loss of so many great country stars. It was titled "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?" It also seems an appropriate question when remembering these intellectual and spiritual titans...these three men I admire most...a terrestrial trinity of thinkers that kept the barbarians at bay, at least for a while.
(Note: Sheen passed away in 1979; Buckley in 2008)
Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.SusanDHarris.com
© Susan D. Harris