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Friday, June 17, 2005

Life is Worth Living
If you grew up in the 1950s, and attended parochial (Catholic) school. you know who this is.  Bishop Fulton J. Sheen had a television show [Life is Worth Living] that aired Tuesday nights.   Why do we erstwhile tykes remember this?  Because watching Bishop Sheen's show was mandatory.  There was a quiz given on Wednesday, and if I remember correctly we had to bring a note from mom to the effect that we had watched.  My wife grew up in Michigan, and same deal, so maybe it was a Papal directive? 

Philco TelevisionThe nuns knew who didn't have a television at home, and created a network of foster sets.  I'm not making this up.  But, the real problem was that Bishop Sheen's television show aired in the same time slot as Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater.  Uncle Miltie was a television god, even bigger than Lucy.  Bigger than Sid Caesar.  I never once watched a full Uncle Miltie show.  Kids who went to public school could, and would, recreate every skit, retell every joke, and laugh their asses off knowingly.  It was their way of digging it in.  They wouldn't dare make fun of Sheen, else they'd get their ass kicked as a matter of honor, but how they loved that advantage.  Bastards.  My mom was sympathetic, and tried to ease the pain by telling me that she hated "that silly Milton Berle, what with him always dressing in women's clothing."  Maybe she really did hate him. 

Anyway, tonight I'm sitting in Lazy Boy after a hard day of tiling, and I'm channel surfing when Holy Mother, there's Bishop Sheen writing "JMJ" (Jesus, Mary, Joseph) on the blackboard before drawing a chart about communism.  Here's what struck me.  Sheen's lectures were decidedly sophisticated, from both a world politics, and theological point of view.  No wonder I was bored to tears.  Watching tonight, though, brought back a flood of memories.  Earlier today I was talking with a good friend who had just watched the movie Ray.  "Gawd Rodge, did that movie ever take me back to playing stink finger in the club cellar."  There is no such memory attached to my Sheen reverie, but even now there's a piece of me wandering around Chicago's Pontiac Avenue.  I can see every face, every house, and smell the smells.  I am also reminded that the Catholic church was virulently anti communist, and the nuns were relentless in their descriptions of what it was like to live under such a filthy system.  It's why I recognize qualities, and tactics, of a certain political party in this country today.  Who'd a thunk it?  Carry on.
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"I did not vote for Obama but he is remarkable. In less than three weeks in office he has collected more than $150,000 in back taxes."
Gayle Miller
I have often heard of Bishop Sheen. Was his programs any good?

Tonight was the first time I paid attention. :D Sheen was a spellbinding orator, and had a good sense of humor, so yeah.

Rodger, that's interesting. I'm in the same age bracket as you, apparently. And went to a parochial school in Detroit. Sheen's program wasn't required of us, but it was certainly on in the house a lot. But then, there are lots of nuns in my mother's family.


Dude. Growing up, my Grandma was head of the altar-rosary society in our dioces, and nuns lived across the street, and to my right and left. I got away with NOTHING. But, it did go a long way to making me the better person I am, so...

I grew up in a Presbyterian family and we never missed Bishop Sheen's TV program, by choice. He made sense then, and he would make sense today. He was a spellbinding orator and probably one of the most brilliant minds in the country. I haven't seen any re-broadcasts scheduled for here in the KC area, but if I do I'll watch him again.

Wow, that is a revealtion Len-KCMo.

The next appearance that I can find is
(Direct TV channel 372) TBN Trinity Broadcasting, June 22 4AM

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