Blogger and journalist Rod Dreher posted an op-ed piece at USA Today, “How much ‘truth’ is too much?” It reviews in passing the author’s personal journey from faithful Catholic journalist reporting on the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to Orthodox Christian who prefers to avoid repeating that experience a second time in his new church.
The experience of reporting on the Catholic scandal tried his faith. As he relates:
My mistake was to assume that I was strong enough emotionally to put analytical distance between myself and my subject. After I left Rome, I made a deliberate decision not to investigate scandal in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), my new communion. My family and I needed a church more than I needed to crusade against ecclesial iniquity.
That’s a gutsy call for a journalist to make, first to make that commitment, but also to write about it. I’m impressed — it’s a rare thing to see a journalist admit that his or her reporting has consequences (both public and personal). I have no doubt some LDS journalists and academics have faced similar difficulties when investigating historical or contemporary stories about the LDS Church.
Here is Dreher’s conclusion on what is surely a gut-wrenching decision for anyone who must confront it.
Societies cannot survive without authoritative institutions. But which authoritative persons or institutions can withstand constant critical scrutiny? In our culture, we are predisposed to see damage done from failing to question authority. We are far less capable of grasping the destruction that can come from delegitimizing authority with corrosive suspicion. How much reality must we choose to ignore for the greater good of our own souls, and society?
Dreher is the author of popular book Crunchy Cons, which I posted about here. Taking religion seriously is one of the defining characteristics of those he terms crunchy conservatives. I suspect only a religious conservative could take the position Dreher does in the USA Today piece. A liberal (religious or not) would likely be unwilling to balance full disclosure of truth as they see it, however destructive, against any competing value or values. A secular conservative, while valuing some social institutions, would be unlikely to give much weight to the legitimacy of religious institutions.