53: Henry Kissinger

53: Henry Kissinger

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me

• 53 •
HENRY KISSINGER

Nobel Peace Prize winner, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, bestselling author

It is hard to believe that it was nearly fifty years ago that I first began to hear about an evangelical preacher who was traveling around the country and drawing immense crowds of devotees. It seemed to me that it was merely a phenomenon similar to the hysteria that had followed Frank Sinatra in the 1940s and, later, The Beatles. I was working for Nelson Rockefeller in New York at the time, and there was a young woman in my office who was fanatical about this Billy Graham. Reverend Graham was going to be preaching in Madison Square Garden, and for days ahead she tried to convince me to go and hear him speak. I must admit I was skeptical and went primarily out of curiosity.

To my surprise, I found myself not only impressed but deeply moved by how he touched some profound spiritual yearning among the crowd. In fact, I was so surprised by my reaction that I went a second time to test whether my impression of Reverend Graham was authentic. But I still felt the same pull of his personality.

When I went to Washington in early 1969, President Nixon invited me to accompany him to a meeting with Reverend Graham, whom he knew and admired. Again I found both the man and his moral and spiritual force powerful and compelling. Nixon introduced us, and over the years our friendship grew, and we got together many times to talk. He spread serenity wherever he went.

Virtually every President since Nixon has sought Billy Graham’s friendship and advice, but he has never mixed politics with religion. Many have sought his counsel on the moral dimensions of an issue and have been rewarded by finding a wise way of thinking about a difficult problem. A man of deep faith, he has never imposed his own beliefs on another. He has tried to open wider horizons and better understanding of life’s troubled passages.

I have immense regard for Billy Graham. He is a strong but humble man, with a generous and compassionate heart that is open to every human being of every religious faith and to those who profess to have none. His moral and ethical values and spiritual enlightenment that transcends doctrine have always touched me deeply. These qualities will be his lasting legacy to the world.

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