Paul Harvey reads his Christmas presentation, “The Man and the Birds,” in the audio recording provided below. A written form of this piece is also provided in the block quote.
Paul Harvey Aurandt (September 4, 1918 – February 28, 2009), better known to the American public simply as Paul Harvey, was a Christian conservative radio broadcaster for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) Radio Networks. Throughout the week, Harvey provided news and comment during the mornings and mid-days and noon on Saturdays, but is perhaps most widely known and remembered for “The Rest of the Story” segments. At his peak of notoriety, he reached an audience of 24 million people weekly, carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations, and 300 newspapers. Few have enjoyed as much acclaim and notoriety in this industry as Mr. Harvey.
Harvey was recognized widely and distinguished for his many achievements. He was named Salesman of the Year, Commentator of the Year, American of the Year, Person of the Year, and Father of the Year. He appeared on the Gallup poll list of America’s most admired men and was elected to the Broadcasters National Radio Hall of Fame as well as the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Eleven times he was the recipient of the Freedom Foundation Award, and in 2005, he was awarded the most prestigious honor awarded a civilian by the United States—the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George W. Bush.
As one might anticipate, Harvey was befriended by many of distinction. For a number of years, Harvey attended Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, an independent evangelical congregation. When the church moved from its original location to the former Presbyterian Church on Lake Street, Harvey invited his friend, Rev. Billy Graham, to offer the dedicatory sermon. Like American Founding Father, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Harvey and his wife associated and fellowshipped with various congregations and denominations, but clearly identified himself with the evangelical tradition.
In contemporary America, forms of deism, atheism, and agnosticism threaten to swallow the rightful claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hoping to encourage our Christian family of faith, this article, written by Paul Harvey, is offered to our readers. Both the audio and literary forms are provided for your consideration.
The Man and the Birds
The Man and the BirdsAudio Player
The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.
“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safety, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells – Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.
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Audio source: http://www.kffb.com/blog/paul-harvey-and-the-man-and-the-birds-a-christmas-story/; Text of monologue: Keiki Hendrix, Everyday Christian, Christmas Classics: The Man And The Birds By Paul Harvey (December 23, 2012, http://www.everydaychristian.com/blogs/post/christmas_classics_the_man_and_the_birds_by_paul_harvey).