I've been puzzled this past week by the suspension of comments and blogging at Rod Dreher's blog, on the John Templeton Foundation's new Big Questions Online site. And Rod's murky "clarification" the other day only deepens the mystery further.
For several years now I've been a regular reader (occasional commenter, mostly just a lurker) of Rod Dreher's blogging. I find Rod's writing engaging and often thought provoking, though I could do without many of his posts on culture-war issues. Odd: more often than not, I find myself largely in agreement with Rod on the issues. But I find myself puzzled, even disturbed, by the way that Rod returns to certain issues again and again and again and again, as if drawn with a nigh-OCD intensity to sledgehammer certain dead horses into flattened roadkill.
At the beginning of this year Rod left his old journalist position to become director of publications at the Templeton Foundation. He also left his old Beliefnet blog behind for a new Beliefnet blog, which about a month ago he left for yet another new blog on BQO, the same blog which after only a month has now been suspended. At each changing of the blogs, Rod announced that he was going to be leaving the culture wars behind, in line with the Templeton Foundation's non-partisan approach.
But somehow, each time, Rod's been drawn back to those issues again, as if he just can't stay away from them. Yeah, his new blog is mild compared to the old days, but still... Rod keeps drifting back to those same old same old culture-war issues, like a moth attracted to a candle flame...
It wasn't until this morning that I realized many of Rod's recent posts have been yanked, leaving on his new BQO blog only a few of his very blandest posts (and none of the three or four posts on which I've left comments over the past month, ahem). Hmmm, this lends a new weight to his "clarifying" remark: "With respect to this blog, we are reconsidering a style and format that will be more in tune with Sir John's forward-looking, positive, constructive ways to engage the Big Questions."
And now I stumble across a couple of discussions, by several of Rod's most frequent and most notable longtime commenters, as to whether the Templeton folks are clamping down on Rod for the continuing controversialist cast of his blogging. Hmmmm... I'm afraid that sounds terribly plausible. I only hope Rod Dreher comes out of it all right, and the Templeton Foundation can resist the temptation to blanderize or sack him.