Monday, January 18, 2010


          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



1 comment:

  1. "You always were and you always will be. This is the meaning of existence and joy. The God that is, is within you, for you are part of all that is. You are supported, never abandoned, and always couched lovingly in the great yet intimate presence of All That Is, whose love forms your breath, your life, your death, as in which the unknown divinity as always blessed and ever known.

    Those blessings I have I have to give I give to you freely, and those that I do not have to give, you are seeking on your own."