Brit Hume and Tiger Round Up

So, the clip of Brit Hume’s “Tiger, Come to Jesus” moment is running viral.

Over at the National Catholic Reporter, the rather left-of-center Michael Sean Winters writes:

Fox News commentator Brit Hume has gone off the deep end, even by Fox News’ standards which are a pretty low bar. […] I am a big fan of everyone becoming Christian. But, a person in crisis should probably not be counseled to abandon his or her own faith traditions unless the conversion was part of an organic process, not the result of advice offered on a Sunday talk show. Buddhism is not my cup of tea . . . but it certainly embodies a means towards achieving forgiveness and redemption.

Does it? I wish our long-missing friend Joseph Marshall (who I have not been able to get in touch with, and am concerned about) was around to give some clarification on that point. Without Joseph at our disposal, I checked around and found this from Buddhist Barbara O’ Brien:

I don’t like to point out others’ faults, but given the record I would think Christians would show a little more humility about offering advice to the sexually wayward. As Jesus once said, let those who have never sinned throw the first stones (John 8:7).

However, Mr. Hume is right, in a sense, that Buddhism doesn’t offer redemption and forgiveness in the same way Christianity does. Buddhism has no concept of sin; therefore, redemption and forgiveness in the Christian sense is meaningless in Buddhism. Forgiveness is important, but it is approached differently in Buddhism…

Hmmmm…gets more complicated. O’ Brien -in the full piece- seems to suggest that Hume is correct, but makes it clear that redemption and forgiveness are comprehended differently from the get-go, so there are no real equivalences with which to argue.

However, Ms. O’ Brien seems to be mistaking Hume’s obvious compassion for Woods as “stone-throwing.” Having watched the video several times, it seems to me that Hume is doing no such thing. Like Creative Minority, I see Hume taking Wood’s situation, and the state of his soul very seriously, and from the perspective of his own beliefs. Rather than hoisting a stone of judgment in Wood’s direction, Hume is offering what he believes to be a healing balm. The distinction between stoning someone to death or offering them hope for their lives is not exactly a fine or subtle one; the fact that Ms. O’ Brien can’t make that distinction suggests that she -like most of us- has allowed a prejudice -or her condescension- to dull her own clarity, and that -again like most of us- she finds it hard to resist the urge to cynicism.

The faith journey is not for wimps, is it? We all have so much to learn.

Conservative and Buddhist, Charles Martin, sounding slightly defensive writes:

I’ll grant that Buddhism doesn’t provide a transcendental entity which can forgive sin, but then Buddhism doesn’t actually provide the concept of sin either; we replace it with “things which lead to a peaceful life, causing no avoidable harm to others” and, of course, the opposite. High on that list is “avoid sexual misconduct” which can be translated to “know when to keep your pants zipped.”

Having no concept of transcendent forgiveness, we replace it with the idea that having harmed someone, you should make amends and reconsider your behavior in the future. You tell me which is more productive: being Forgiven of Sin, or making amends and remedying your faults?

Heh. As a Catholic, I choose both! and (let me be clear) I think most Christians would. Martin, who is a very smart fellow, undercut his helpful answer by -like Ms. O’ Brien- being unable to instruct without trying to one-up. I understand the instinct, of course, but wonder if it was really necessary. I am certain Martin knows that Christianity is about more than “sinning with a get-out-of-hell-free” card, but he chooses not to acknowledge that, in this piece.

Americablog writes:

“. . . that’s not really his job as a news anchor, to tell non-Christians to become Christians. Not to mention, there seems to be an implication that Tiger Woods would be a better person, movie downloads or something, if he became a Christian. Yes, because all those Republican Christians don’t ever cheat on their wives.”

Well, once again, I don’t think Hume was suggesting to anyone that Christians (or, as they write, “Republican” Christians) are not subject to the same failings, faults and weaknesses as any other human beings, only that Christ and His Grace offer strength, consolation and, sometimes, real healing, depending upon one’s own openness.

Hume had to know, when he was making his remarks
, that he was opening himself (and to an extent, all of Christianity) for some criticism and ridicule; perhaps he expected that his remarks would foment debate and dialogue. As we see, though, from our Buddhist friends, Ms. O’ Brien, Charles Martin, and from Americablog, first reactions to his remarks have either completely misconstrued his intent (stone-throwing?) or his meaning (unproductive-faith-alone?) or his message (“Republican” Christians don’t sin?), and so any dialogue will begin with a deficit in understanding, on both sides.

Speaking only from my own perspective as a Christian, it seems to me there are a lot of non-Christians out there who really don’t understand Christianity, or the mystery and purpose of Christ, and this is partly the fault of Christians. If we lived our creed better, preaching the gospel by the way we live our lives, and by our love, then perhaps those who currently distrust us enough to be satisfied with incuriousness and stereotypes, would not be so quick to jump to the worst conclusions when a fellow like Hume speaks -very gently, it must be said, without stoning or consignment to flames of woe- on the Christian application to the human condition.

Should Hume have said what he did, on the air? I am a little ambivilent about it.

On one hand, as a Christian, I admire it; Hume put himself out there, as “a fool for Christ,” willing to face ridicule and scorn for his faith. On the other hand, I’m not comfortable with the venue. I don’t think I would like it if, for example, Christopher Hitchens suggested to Tiger, “don’t worry about it, there is no God, anyway,” or if some Muslim used a news broadcast to suggest that Woods should turn to Islam. As the writer at Americablog suggested, minding the salvation of Tiger Woods this is not Hume’s job as a newscaster.

It is his job as a Christian, however, and Hume might have done better, in a host of ways, by contacting Woods privately, and offering to pray for him (as he is likely already doing) and perhaps introducing Woods to the Good Shepherd, in the process.

But we don’t know everything; perhaps Hume has tried to reach out to Woods, but the golfer -not wishing to talk to members of the press- has closed all avenues, and so Hume decided to make a public plea. Not an optimal situation, to be sure, but the Holy Spirit does have a way of confounding us and using what is available, and we do not always understand why He does what He does.

I wrote here, about Marcella Dubuque:

Perhaps God’s will for Marcella Dubuque was not that she die, but that she learn the means, and the power, of perfect prayer.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit’s will in this case, then, is not that Brit Hume bring Tiger Woods to Jesus in sixty seconds, but for something larger, that we do not yet understand, and will not until the thing plays out a bit. Since so much of the negative commentary pounces on the hypocritical sexual failings of Christians, perhaps the Holy Spirit is using this event as a means to teach us Christians, and the lesson is: Christians would be more credible if they (collectively and individually) lived their own lives in a more Christ-like manner and gave less public scandal.

And good heavens, don’t we all need to hear and internalize that! I sure do!

Interesting stuff.

David Gibson in Politics Daily, finds Hume’s “altar call” problematic on several levels but manages some human perspective:

Hume’s homily was understandable, because, well, this is Fox News, but also because Hume himself reconnected with his faith in a serious way after his son committed suicide in 1998 and his faith clearly carried him through.

Gateway Pundit seems to support Hume’s remarks, sees the criticism as impending persecution:

It used to be that liberals didn’t want you to mention Christ in schools. Then they banned Christ from Christmas concerts and public squares. Now they are demanding that we not talk about Christianity in public. We should have seen this coming.

I don’t know if this is persecution. I frankly don’t want to see newscasts become daily forums for proselytizing.


I’m as ignorant of Buddhism as I am everything else, but isn’t one of the key teachings that all suffering is caused by, er, desire and that the path to serenity lies through freeing yourself from that desire? In which case, Tige’s problem might not be that he’s got the wrong religion but that the one he’s got hasn’t quite penetrated yet. No pun intended.

Bookworm has a typically thoughtful take that looks at the fall of Rome, the fall of the UK, and the fall of the USA:

In America, I think we’ll go the other way: It won’t be Islam that destroys us, but Christianity that saves us. I make this prediction as a Jewish woman who trusts that her Christian fellow-Americans will continue to believe in religious freedom. This means that I don’t imagine a theocracy, with militant Christians taking over Washington at gun point. I simply believe that Americans will look at what’s happening around them, and take refuge in traditional religious morality — and in this country, traditional religious morality is predominantly Christian.

Pursuing Holiness:

In Ireland, that may or may not be a legal crime, but here in America it is at least being made socially unacceptable by postmodern leftists who screech like a goth in the sun if they hear a simple declarative statement that Christianity is superior to other religions.

Sort of related, another sort of news cast proselytizing: NPR, publicly funded but disdainful of half the public

Of Interest:
USA Today

Totally off-topic:
40 Obnoxious quotes of 2009

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