Faux News commentator Britt Hume has a solution for all of Tiger Woods problems.
Convert to Christianity and all will be forgiven. Sounding like he was channeling Oral Roberts,
Hume offered this advice in an attempt to resurrect Tiger's career, a simple fix to put him back
into the good graces of his fans and sponsors.
On Hume's advice, all Mr. Woods needs to do is become a Christian and thereby
experience forgiveness and redemption. Hume claims only Christianity provides the
opportunity to be forgiven and redeemed. He believes Tiger is a Buddhist, or at least his
mother is; therefore, even if he says he's sorry, rebuilds his marriage, and wins the Masters,
he's still out of luck.
Buddhism, according to Hume, offers no provision for forgiveness or redemption.
If Tiger says he's sorry, and does so at the mega-church of his choice; Americans will watch
him on TV, buy Gillette razors by the boxcar, and wear Tag Hauer watches to church on
Sunday. Christianity for Hume is a sacerdotal washing machine designed to wash and rinse
Tiger's soul. Is this what Christian conversion has come to mean in America?
It helps that Tiger is portrayed as a Buddhist. Most Americans don't know any
Buddhists and have no idea what Buddhists believe. They might think of meditation and
corpulent statues, but not much more. Americans are mostly illiterate when it comes to
Christianity and the other great world religions. For example, imagine for a moment
Mr. Hume saying Tiger should abandon being Jewish and convert to Christianity in order
to experience forgiveness and redemption. His career would not be long for this world.
The reality of politics and religion has a long reach and Buddhists are a safe target for
evangelization it seems.
What about this idea that Christians are the only ones to experience God's forgiveness
and redemption? On this, we have Jesus's very own words and they clearly state that to
live like Him, or to "follow" him, one had to love their enemies, turn the other cheek, and
forgive an infinite number of times. According to Matthew's gospel, in order to be admitted
to the presence of God you have to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and
visit prisoners. Whatever you do for the least of your brothers and sisters you do for Jesus
himself. He told the rich young man to sell everything he had. He said the meek and
peacemakers would be blessed and inherit the earth. He advised people not to judge others
or pray or fast in public and to be motivated by love of God and neighbor. To be like Jesus
is to live every moment of your life in relationship to God and your fellow man. And as we
all know, relationships depend on how we live our lives. Relationship is key.
As for redemption, we are told Jesus's death and resurrection redeemed "the world".
Whatever redemption or salvation is, it was a one-time event. We have been redeemed;
that's the "good news" of the gospels and it is done. But, the idea of redemption presented
problems for the early Christian Church bureaucracy. If we are all redeemed by Jesus's
sacrifice, why do we need a "church"? If we are all saved, why do we need to be governed
by rules and why do we need an intermediary to help us achieve this goal? No church, no
priests, and no pastors; what kind of world are we talking about here?
This so troubled St. Augustine, that he came up with the concept of original sin. Yes,
Jesus's death and resurrection redeemed the world, but...not quite. It seems some felt
Jesus wasn't as powerful as we thought. His death and resurrection weren't strong enough
to wipe out the stain of the original sin of Adam and Eve. They felt the only way you could
erase that sin was through baptism.
Since St. Augustine, others took it upon themselves to isolate other scriptural verses
claiming one has to be born again or to "accept" Jesus in order to earn forgiveness and
redemption. This is in spite of St. John's gospel, Chapter 9, where Jesus assured the blind
man at the Pool of Siloam that we cannot inherit sin!
One of the earliest heresies in the years after Jesus was caused by the teaching of
the Gnostics. They taught that in order to be saved you needed to acquire a special "gnosis"
or knowledge. Only those who achieved this highest form of enlightenment could be saved.
Wisely, the early Christian community rejected this notion that there was only one way to
salvation. Today, those who suggest you have to be born again or baptized represent the
worst of the rejected beliefs of old by insisting human rules can limit the way God's grace
and reach can touch us and heal us.
Tiger Woods has to decide what direction he wishes his life to go. He can reconcile
with his wife and lead a long married life or he can divorce. He has to decide what kinds
of relationships he wants and the value of his word. He has to give serious thought to his
children and decide if he wants the depth, power, and intimacy of a loving relationship or
wants to continue to bounce from one cocktail waitress to another.
However, if Tiger Woods decides to live as good a life as he can, if he uses his vast
wealth and prominence to help the least of his brothers and sisters, if he is able to be a good
and loving father and a caring friend to the people in his life, if as a Buddhist he is able to
control his ego realizing nothing is permanent and work his way along the eight-fold path
to perfection; this will work. In other words, if Tiger Woods is a good man striving to be
the best human he can be, whether he is a Christian or not is irrelevant. The key is the kind
of life we live. The key is the ripples we create in the world and how well we develop our
humanity. If God created us, part of God's divine nature is within us. The more we love
each other and humanize ourselves, the more we become divine ourselves.
Britt Hume and those of his ilk are like the Pharisees of Jesus's time. They are more
concerned about the rules than how one lives. Jesus once asked them after he performed
a sign on the Sabbath, if the Sabbath was made for man or man for the Sabbath. Jesus was
not kind when he responded by calling the Pharisees "whitened sepulchers", bright on the
outside, but dead on the inside. Nothing has changed since that day; Jesus has no patience
for those overly obsessed with "law" and labels. The Pharisees are still among us. Jesus
said we are forgiven if we sincerely ask for forgiveness and change whatever behavior is
interfering in our relationships. We are redeemed because Jesus opened a new relationship
to God which each of us can benefit from and that forgiveness is open to anyone who can
live up to the challenge he gave us.
At times we all fall short. We all sin; but the good news is we get to work on getting
it right over and over again even if we wear lime green pants, hit a ball with a stick, and
rely on the message of the Buddha to help us navigate through life in all its pain and glory.
God is not the exclusive franchise of anyone or any religion. God's spirit among us
is but a whisper; but it survives to this day in spite of man's laws and labels. And what does
this whisper speak of? Ooh! It's the soft sound of a lover's sigh when you wake up in the
morning and say "Oh darn, another day". The whisper says it doesn't have to be this way...
and you know in your heart that life can be more than you've made it.
The Buddha was a prince when he heard God's whisper and Jesus sacrificed his life
as an example for others to follow. The early Christians understood this; but somehow
the Pharisees have chased the spirit of God into buildings and books when the only place
it can exist is in the calm freedom of our individual hearts. The "church" is people in loving
relationships with each other. You've been tricked if you see God's hope for his kingdom
on earth as being anything other than this. Either today is the day we begin trying to live
in loving relationship to one another and God or it's simply another day of pointing fingers,
finding fault, and blaming others for the mess we've made of God's home...his home in our
hearts. What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them