Friday, October 27, 2006

Tenure? Easy. Sainthood? Quite Possibly.

Sam Kean in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the cause for the canonization of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
After earning a prestigious Agrege degree in 1923 -- a sort of European superdoctorate in philosophy that guarantees a job at a European university -- Fulton J. Sheen had offers to teach at both Columbia and Oxford. Excited but unsure, the young priest telegraphed his hometown bishop in Illinois to ask where he should go.

The answer? Back to Peoria, son. A local parish needed a priest. Bound by his vows, Father Sheen obeyed.

The summons home, it turned out, was a test to see if the future Archbishop Sheen could be humble -- a concern that dogged him his whole telegenic life.

How telegenic was he?
... Sheen became the best-known priest in the country, appearing as host of a show called Life Is Worth Living, on which he preached against the pessimism he saw in modern philosophy. The gig won him the 1952 Emmy for outstanding television personality ...

While it doesn't count as a miracle, Wikipedia recounts,
One of his best remembered presentations came in February 1953, when he forcefully denounced the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. Sheen gave a dramatic reading of the burial scene from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, substituting the names of Caesar, Cassius, Marc Antony, and Brutus with those of prominent Soviet leaders: Stalin, Beria, Malenkov, and Vishinsky. From the bishop's lips came the pronouncement, "Stalin must one day meet his judgment." On March 5, 1953, Stalin died.

and, again not counted as a miracle,
The show would run until 1957, drawing as many as 30 million people on a weekly basis.

As many as 30 million people, who watched and listened each week as a bishop "preached against the pessimism he saw in modern philosophy".

(via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)


  1. Anonymous8:14 PM

    I watched him as a child, but loved him when as an adult, I read/heard some of the 'old' programs. They are still very MUCH needed today, and require very little to make them relevant (occasionally there is a reference to something from those years, but it is easy to substitute things from right out of today.)

    His talk on Marriage Problems is fantastic.

  2. He beat Milton Berle in the ratings. If that ain't a miracle I don't know what is.