Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I Suppose I Shouldn't Be Surprised

If you were watching the news yesterday, you probably heard that the identity of "Deep Throat," the informant in the Watergate scandal of the early '70s, has finally been revealed. This is a story that I've followed with some interest for most of my life, although I'm too young to remember any of it firsthand. The reason for this is simple: I was born on the day that President Nixon gave his resignation speech (August 8, 1974), leaving office in disgrace after it became clear that he was about to be impeached as a result of the Watergate findings.

Watergate provided another major turning point in the history of modern American Christianity: the arrest of Charles Colson, who had a well-publicized conversion experience during the Watergate goings-on, entered prison as "born again" Christian, and upon his release has become one of the major conservative Christian commentators and activists, particularly in reaching out to current prisoners with various forms of Christian assistance. Allow me to go on record right now as saying that, while I don't agree with some of Colson's politics, I think that he has done a tremendous amount of good, not only for the sake of God's kingdom, but also for increasing awareness of the need for humanitarian aid to prisoners. Although the recidivism rate among prisoners is still far too high, I expect it would be even higher without the work of people like Mr. Colson.

Having said that, I'm rather disappointed to learn of Colson's reaction to the identity of "Deep Throat:" W. Mark Felt, former second-in-command at the FBI. Colson accused Felt of being unprofessional, lacking honor, and insisted that he should have worked through the proper channels to bring this news to light, rather than going through anonymous channels "where it could never be checked, where you could never rebut the accusation."

I had naively assumed that Colson would have forgiven whoever "Deep Throat" was long ago as part of his conversion experience. One of the most prominent aspects of Christian theology is that, as a forgiven people, so we should forgive others. Especially when one consideres that Colson's entire conversion experience came as a result of being investigated, and later arrested, on Watergate-related charges, I would have hoped that he would have seen the admitted hardship he endured as being "for his good" in the long run (much as Joseph regarded his brothers' betrayal in the book of Genesis).

On the other hand, Colson's assertion that, despite widespread assumptions to the contrary, "I think government is willing to investigate itself, and I think we've seen it do it many, many times," is entirely in keeping with a person who's modern-day, post-conversion, political stance has been to defend the Republican party in general, and the current administration in particular. (An administration that is renowned for its secrecy, and is likewise widely assumed to be incapable of investigating itself in anything resembling a fair and detached manner. See the vice-president's comments regarding the recent Amnesty International report, for example.)

I find it sad that Mr. Colson's political outlook apparently trumps his religious loyalties in this matter. But I suppose that I shouldn't be suprised....

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