David Crabtree has covered important and high-profile stories in his 40 years as a journalist. In his final month at WRAL News, he looks back on some of the issues that have affected him the most professionally and personally, to reflect on and share their current stance.
In the spring of 1995, I was assigned to focus on a series of stories around the issue of faith.
Not religion. Not spirituality. Faith.
I’ve covered everything from a Bible study at a truck stop in Clayton, to a preacher shining shoes at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, to a Sunday School class for mentally challenged adults, to a communion service on death row.
I also became a journalist to cover funerals – Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, children who died of gang violence, people who died in hospice care and Mother Teresa.
My time in Calcutta, India taught me about theology and the true workings of the human psyche.
Over the next 25 years, I’ve seen the coverage of these things change.
This article I recently discovered on Bible.org sums it up nicely.
Talking about theology in the past was not considered taboo as it is today. She was once called “the queen of science”. It was considered the foremost among the pursuits of knowledge, as all other pursuits were believed to be vitally connected with its precepts. The moral was dictated. Philosophy was called its servant. Why was he held in such high esteem then? Because theology itself provides a basis for your philosophy and your worldview, which in turn defines inclinations for your heart, your actions and your decisions in all situations. Everything is affected by your theology. For example, if your theology denies the existence of God, then your morality will be affected since its basis is not a personal, timeless being. With a theology of atheism (ie the belief that there is no God) morality becomes relative to time and situation. In this case, what is true for one generation may not be for another. If your theology denies the sinfulness of man, then a bloody sacrificial death to atone for sin becomes repugnant, since, according to your theology, men need not have their sin atoned for. If your theology is polytheistic (i.e. belief in multiple gods), then you will constantly be trying to figure out which god(s) you should meet, pray to and/or appease in order to make their situation “right”. “. The implications are endless.
In short, theology is a set of intellectual and affective engagements, justified or not, about God and man which dictate one’s beliefs and actions. Neither the word itself is irrelevant, nor the concepts it seeks to articulate. It is the first pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.
May we sometimes drop our journalistic masks and remember, first, that we are human. We leave a footprint and a footprint.
I’m grateful for the faith stories I covered and how it was faith that really covered me, even when I flew too close to the sun.