Sunday Morning


I'm one of those baby boomers who never recovered from my early childhood religious experiences. I wanted to be a minister. One of my early role models was my friend's father, the minister at our church. He was not your typical, don't rock the boat, don't upset the congregation type minister. He provoked you into listening and taking action. He was a big opponent of DDT. At the time, DDT was hailed as the miracle poison that would save corn and soybeans from weed ruination. It was a new miracle aid for farmers. Unfortunately, we lived in a rural community. That spelled trouble. I got a first-hand look at how ugly supposed Christians can be. In the end, he was right. DDT was a disaster for the environment. And for me, it spelled a rocky road concerning my relationship to the church. I really never fully recovered.

In 1980, I renewed my faith. "Sunday Morning" came on the air. I had a front row seat and didn't need to go any further than my living room. Charles Kuralt would deliver the sermon until April, 1994. Ninety minutes of top notch commentary on major headlines, in-depth stories on the arts, science, the environment, weather, education, world affairs. In a deal with CBS, he continued doing his "On the Road" odyssey, logging over one million miles on the nation’s back roads, visiting places you never heard of, talking to anyone he found interesting, ending each show with about a minute of nature, filmed by the photographer that traveled with him. They went through six Winnebagos over the years. What a Sunday morning service.

Kuralt left “Sunday Morning” on April 3, 1994. He was dismayed by a new wave of anchor people taking over. He said, "I am ashamed that so many anchorpersons haven't any basis on which to make a news judgment, can't edit, can't write, and can't cover a story." It looked like my "church in exile" was over.

Along came Charles Osgood, who stepped in for Kuralt. Osgood has been described as a poet in ­residence at CBS. Kuralt said of him, "He is one of the last, great, broadcast writers." Sunday Morning didn't miss a beat. The quality, the depth, the integrity, all stayed put.

For thirty years this "church in exile" has flourished. Oh, I've missed a few services here and there, but when I'm feeling down and blue, when it looks like all is lost, I sit in front of the TV on Sunday morning from 8-9:30am, and this funny thing happens: I get renewed, my faith gets energized, and I get this overwhelming feeling that there is a lot of good in the world, and all that good will beat out the bad.

Look at this list of choir members Kuralt and Osgood have had over the years: Ron Powers, Billy Taylor, Bill Geist, Roger Welsch, John Leonard, Tim Sample, Ben Stein, Bill Flanagan, Anthony Mason, Harry Smith, and Mo Rocca. Some of the best newspeople in the business.

I suppose some of you are going to say that this is a poor excuse for a religious experience. But you would be wrong. No one has ever been known to say on “Sunday Morning” that I am going to hell because of my sins. They have never suggested that the creation story be taken literally, or made up an account of how Noah could have gotten all of those animals on a boat. I've never had to worry about my seat being taken, or wondered why an American flag stands next to the Ten Commandments in the comer. I never had to deal with anyone begging for more money to build a bigger church. From 8-9:30 on a Sunday morning, I feel good about the world and my place in it. What more could you ask out of a Sunday morning?