ERROL CASTENS: Watergate yielded a gift

A frank assessment of the lay of the land, and a genuine hope:

While we Americans are not quite as animated in our division as we were 150 years ago – at least we’re not marching armies at each other or regularly burning down whole swaths of each other’s towns and farmsteads – it’s hard to argue that our country is not more than usually mired in malcontent and distrust.

Too many of us use hyphens like hatchets, hacking ourselves and each other into ever-smaller and ever-more-defensive groups.

We no longer discuss policy or philosophy civilly or rationally.

We can’t have an honest conversation about morality – or even mathematics.

We default, after our arguments fail to score points, to calling the other side hate-filled, evil, mean-spirited and stupid.

Too often, each side has given up on attracting folks from the other side with either logic or love and has entrenched itself simply to outlast the other side, which, we reason, will surely die someday.

Those divisions run from the coffee shop and the bus stop to the very top of government.

For those of us old enough to remember Watergate firsthand, it’s sad – no, it’s downright unnerving – to see another presidency dealing with so much scandal at once.

We’ll save for another day the arguments over how much President Barack Obama has been or hasn’t been involved in creating the multiple embarrassments his administration faces currently. We’ll debate another time how serious those contentions are, individually or collectively.

It’s safe to say, though, that when even late-night comedians and some left-leaning journalists begin to make the president a target, the White House is not a fun place to work right now.

It’s not fun to watch, either.

Even for those who disagree with most of Obama’s positions, who see his promise to “fundamentally transform” America as a threat to their grandchildren and are eager for his departure from office, it’s disconcerting to see the concerns even formerly supportive pundits are raising.

In all the concerns that we might be facing another Watergate, one thought in particular should give Christians great comfort – and great motivation to pray for our nation’s leadership.

But for Watergate, we might never have had “Born Again,” “The Sky is Not Falling” or “How Now Shall We Live?”.

But for Watergate, we might never have had Prison Fellowship, which humanizes both prisoners and their children as probably no movement has done in lifetimes.

But for Watergate, we might never have seen a convicted felon transformed into a leading Christian thinker.

Pray that the current discord, in whatever direction or degree it moves, yields another Chuck Colson.

ERROL CASTENS is the Daily Journal’s Oxford area reporter. Contact him at

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio