Choosing Truth or Power
American Pietism (“it doesn’t matter what you believe but what you feel in your heart”) and secularism (which views the Bible in public schools as more dangerous than assault weapons) have combined to produce a general state of religious illiteracy in the United States. Newspapers, when they use religious allusions, have to explain them. The Baltimore Sun once referred to Pilate and had to explain in parentheses that he was the Roman official who washed his hands at the trial of Jesus. At least they got the explanation right.
I cringe whenever newspapers start discussing religion. They become wells of misinformation for the reader, whose smattering of information bears little relation to reality. But that is the point. Truth is not, for modern writers, the conformance of the mind to reality, but what serves a partisan agenda. Truth is a servant of power.
The reactions to my book, The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity, demonstrated to me the lack of interest in truth among publishers and reviewers. One prestigious secular publisher was interested in the manuscript. The editor had to submit the manuscript to readers and therefore tried to find non-feminist readers. She later showed me the readers’ responses. Some criticisms were valid or at least reasonable. One reader, alas, was non-feminist because he hated women. He told the editor that she was not allowed to publish the book. If she did, he and his friends would ensure that she would not get another job in New York publishing.
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Leon J. Podles holds a Ph.D. in Old English and Old Icelandic from the University of Virginia and is a senior editor of Touchstone. His latest book is Losing the Good Portion: Why Men Are Alienated from Christianity (St. Augustine's Press, 2020). He and his wife Mary (author of the Touchstone column "A Thousand Words") are the parents of six children. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland.
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