Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Peter Jennings

File this under "It's my party, and I'll cry in I want."

I feel that I have lost a friend, even though I never met the man and knew only his public persona. But even if it makes me look like a goof, I mourn the death of journalist Peter Jennings, who died Sunday night of lung cancer. He was one of my heroes -- admittedly a clay-footed one. And I think the world was better for his having walked much of it.

Peter (the use of his first name is an affectation, I know) was a Canadian (who was granted dual citizenship in the U.S. a couple of years ago), and he never completely lost his Canadian vowels. That in itself would be a huge reason to love the guy. He was a high-school dropout, who never received his diploma or a baccalaureate degree), but he was one of the most successful autodidacts since Abraham Lincoln. (I have a dear friend who feels that because she didn't go to college she has to be up on everything in order to run in the crowd she does, which includes a lot of university people. Peter Jennings was like that, I understand; he didn't either sense or misuse his masterful intelligence.) He loved kids and frequently did shows that brought kids' points of view into play. Yes, he was divorced from a woman with whom he produced at least one child, and then he took another wife and produced a new family. He was, however, on great terms with his first child. He was the height of grace -- and no one looked better in a tux. And he was a perfectionist -- or nearly so.

I watched the ABC News tribute to him on Monday night. (If there was any world news, I missed most of it. Peter would have hated that.) But it was touching in the extreme -- and rightly so, as my wife noted. (Kathy liked him, too.)

I don't claim that there was significant theological meaning in the life and vocation of Peter Jennings, and that's not really my point -- to canonize him. Still, I think there was something, not unique, but significant about his dedication to his craft, his ability to connect with his audience, to understand the human meaning of world events, and his efforts to tilt his craft toward honesty and the protection of people -- not the cynical misuse of time and authority to sell products or push a political agenda (which is mostly what we see come from "news" outlets). He was one of the greats -- whom I shall miss from the evening news broadcasts, along with John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite (who, praise God is still in good health and still active), Chet Huntley.

Eternal rest grant him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I, too, really liked Peter Jennings. He was my favorite anchor because he did not sensationalize the news like Rather did.

Peter was intelligent and fair. He got me through 9/11. I don't know if the man even slept all that week. Every time I turned on the t.v. he was there, helping us get a grip on what had happened.

God bless Peter Jennings. We were lucky to have him with us in our time.