Interview With Peter Jennings
The anchor discusses Jesus, religion-and his own faith.
In 2000, Peter Jennings was promoting his new special The Search for Jesus, a prime-time look at the historical debates about Jesus. He sat down for an interview with Beliefnet editor-in-chief Steven Waldman and discussed press coverage of religion and his own spiritual life.
Read Beliefnet's complete interview and listen to Jennings' thoughts on:
How he practices his faith
How his own faith has been renewed
How religion is viewed in the newsroom
How he deals with doubt
If he prays
The perils of a 'historical' Jesus
How someone of faith should process his show
What can you tell me about how you practice your own faith?
That's a difficult question because...I don't want to be identified as someone who, at any given moment in their life, gets down on his knees and seeks whatever. But I certainly grew up in the Christian tradition in which I was taught, fairly young, that there was a set of rules, a set of recommendations, a set of standards by which a Christian could and should try to live.
[While working as a journalist overseas] I came to have an appreciation that in all parts of the world, people like me of other faiths struggle to be conscious of that which they have been taught. In time, I became much more conscious of a religion as a political or more widely embracing notion.
|How he practices his faith|
I think the fairest thing to say about myself is that I am sensitive to the value of faith and religion and spirituality in people's lives because I'm a journalist. I try to tell young producers here that when they go to interview the survivors of a plane crash, and they ask the woman, "How did you get through this?" and the woman answers, "God got me through it," they are never to then say, "I understand that madam, but whatreally
got you through it?" That's the one thing I would say about myself. I've come to appreciate the value of that. I do not question people's literalism, even though I don't always share it. And as a reporter, I've come to realize that this is a terrific story, a terrific, wonderful story.
A couple of years ago, in a speech you said that there was a "new spark to my own faith." What did you mean by that?
I think a wider awareness led me to seek. I don't like the word--it's become a popular word, "Are you a believer or are you a seeker?" But I do think that I have gone through a subsequent period of seeking to understand what or how strong or what are the connections I have to God. So
|How his own faith has been renewed|
I've spent some time with other men who have tried to understand that about their own lives. I've spent a little more time in Bible study, though my goodness not enough, and I've sought to go out and find the value of this in other peoples lives... I suppose, subconsciously I'm finding it so invigorating, enthralling, that maybe--I haven't taken enough time to stop and examine it yet--in some time it will take me some other places.
I know very much what you mean. It is not dissimilar to my own situation --but it's not always easy to articulate this.
And I haven't been asked this before, and you can see I'm having difficulty.