Holier Than TB

Quote of the Day:

“An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.” –Buddha

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus, quoted by Matthew

It seems Brit Hume stirred up a nice little “controversy” last week with his comments about Tiger Woods and his spiritual well-being. The exact quote was “I don’t think that faith (Buddhism) offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, “Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.” Buddhists took gentle exception to Hume’s mischaracterization of their religion while politi-christians rushed headlong to his defense, frothing at the mouth over their collective cultural martyrdom.  But as usual, no one featured on either cable or the interwebs represented TB’s point of view. I think it was just another instance of overinflating the import of some random guy’s words just because a camera happened to be pointing in his direction at the time.

Now I doubt Brit Hume knows much about Buddhism. And when he publicly urges Tiger to “turn to the Christian faith” I get the sense he knows little about that either. After all, what is the Christian faith? Roman Catholicism? Southern Baptist? Mormon? Snake handlers? From what I can glean, many among these groups are fair certain they won’t see their compatriots in the culture wars on the business side of the pearly gates. Are they all the same to Brit?

What really bugs me is that Brit’s comments are just another salvo in what I consider the war of religion against God. As someone who considers himself a Christian, I find that it is not Islamic extremists who distance me from God. It is not our culture of excess, corruption and greed. It’s not even Hollywood. The biggest drain on my personal well of faith comes from those who are tasked with leading it and from those who most loudly profess to follow it. The examples that leap to mind include the Vatican whitewash of the molestation scandal, the politicization of the Southern Baptists, and possibly most of all, the self-aggrandizing nature of the holier than TB crowd. I see it in church when a business leader stands up and INSISTS he not be thanked for doing the lord’s work in the list of a dozen projects he just led and spent half an hour describing. I see it on Facebook where I am yet to become a “fan” of prayer and where it is subtly suggested that I must immediately re-post someone else’s words in my status affirming that Jesus was thinking of this very moment and my imminent status decision while suffering upon the cross lest I prove myself an enemy of The Truth. I get chain emails that tell me not to forward if I don’t love Jesus and they are “sorry” they offended me. And now I get Brit Hume proselytizing for publicity to distinguish himself among the hordes of reporters searching for a new angle on the Tiger Woods story.

I don’t discuss religion much. Most people are far too certain, or at least rigid, in their beliefs to have a candid discussion about matters that are to me unknowable. In one way, I think that’s too bad. I’d like to know what people think; I’d like to know even more about what they question. I’d like to test my own thoughts against theirs. Unfortunately, society frowns upon open discussion of the topic in favor of  dueling pseudo-authoritative statements of creed. Brit Hume didn’t start the trend and I don’t want to make him a scapegoat, just the most recent example. But if public religious discourse is to be about judgment, condemnation and hubris, I’d just as soon the subject remain taboo.


If you are interested, here’s a link to a Billy Graham transcript from a Larry King Live appearance a few years back. While I don’t agree with all his positions, I find this interview to be as good a sermon as any I ever heard. I think I’d enjoy a conversation with him.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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49 Responses to Holier Than TB

  1. Jessie Lou says:

    Quite the sticky wicket! There have been alot of comments about religion and islam in particular – maybe moreso in emails vs. your site here, but with many of the same participants. The best part is – that none of us is the ultimate judgment passer. As it says in Romans 3:23 – All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That pretty much evens up the playing field.

    Yes, I would not mind a religious discussion and would likely enjoy it. However, that is one best done in person so you can get the full picture without possible misinterpretation from each person.

  2. I can honestly say no one who frequents the TBU is among the holier than thou crowd. Those types wouldn’t like a lot my posts.

    As for Islam, I don’t know much about it, but it appears to me that faith has a major problem with the same types–if I were a Muslim nothing would drive me away from the mosque quicker than a suicide bomber, supported by his cleric, who is certain HE is the one going to heaven.

    On a lighter note, wouldn’t it be a kick to know what gets passed around on a fundamentalist Muslim chain email? I’ll have to ponder that one.

  3. Harmony says:

    Bravo, TB. Bravo!

    I love to discuss all aspects of religion (although, I have much learning to do), however I NEVER do it. Where I would like to expand on what I know (or think I know), I find that others are steadfast in their beliefs and instead of discussing they’re trying to conform me to their beliefs.

  4. Jessie Lou says:

    I would agree with all of that Harmony!

    TB – perhaps that would be a good post – the islam POV – comedic of course.

    There is an islamic movement afoot in Detroit in opposition of the radical islam panty bomber (could there be a worse place to put an explosive). They want to show their peaceful views as opposed to what the bomber represents.

  5. Harmony says:

    There is SO much in here to touch on..I agree with everything you said TB. I find my faith being swayed by the leading public figures of our religions. I was raised outside of religion. However, my family was very religious. I find it hard to take the step to become a member of a church, for the sole reason of the dangers that lurk within the churches. I hate that people so easily judge someone’s character by their standings in the church. So much has been lost to this assumption, so many have been hurt by that carelessness. My faith is strong in God…mankind? Sadly, not so much.

  6. Harmony says:

    Also? I HATE those ‘chain status’ on facebook..too! Recently I just copied and pasted the portion that read “93% of you won’t copy and paste this” I thought it was funny..nobody else seemed to think so.

  7. Man, oh man. I’m going to do some finger exercises and come back. I have all the answers, he said humbly.

  8. Mac says:

    Wow. You ban politics and then open a religion discussion. You are an interesting enigma sir baen. I suppose the following statement sums me up. I think anyone who professes to KNOW what is going on is a fool. This includes members of every faith. I believe in a creator. Whats his plan? How the hell do I know. I believe in good and evil and that you should choose good more often when faced with the choice. I am, however, very open minded about the subject and enjoy learning what I can about the various religions of the world. I think religious zealots (of every religion) are the most dangerous people on the planet. There, I consider this pot sufficiently stirred.

  9. Harmo, I agree, there are a lot of angles at play both in the post and the underlying events I mentioned. I purposely kept the focus narrow. However, I’d welcome your expounding on any point if you’re so inclined.

    TDW–I know you have well developed thoughts on this issue. Feel free to show up the management here with a devastatingly insightful comment.

    Mac–Yes, religion is a touchy area (no pu-oh nevermind), but this post is less about religion than it is about religionistas. (I’m coining new terms at an alarming rate today.) Politics went away primarily because it was clear there was nothing to discuss rather than because of the controversy. Also because both major parties have made it clear they do not stand for what they campaign about-I figured what’s the point?

    As for the stirred pot o’the day, I agree completely with your point concerning religious zealots and their being the most dangerous people. You know what gets me most about their type? In my opinion they, in their certainties and their attempts to define his “will”, have a more limited view of the scope and power of God than all the rest of us.

  10. Jessie Lou says:

    Has anyone here ever watched the movie “Dogma”? If so, what did you think?

  11. Harmony says:

    Mac ~ I agree. Any person finding solid resolve in one arena of theology has giving up on the idea that there is more to learn, or evolution to be had.

    Jessie Lou ~ I have seen and LOVE the movie “Dogma”..it’s one of my favorites.

  12. I was going to write something satirical, but most folks on here don’t know me, so it’d end up falling flat. I’ll try to be serious.

    First, I agree with everything you’ve written. Second, I could write all day about this not b/c I know a lot, but because I love the subject matter. But this is a blog comment, so I’ll be brief with my 2 cents.

    The notions of “certainty” and “superiority” not only are abrasive impediments to non-Christians taking us seriously, but they are antithetical to Christian philosophy itself.

    Certainty by definition pushes out faith. Faith is a belief in the face of uncertainty. It is entirely the LACK of certainty that allows faith to exist. St. Paul said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If all things Christian were so certain and dogmatic, then why would St. Paul tell the Philippians that they “should work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling”? If it’s all a matter of simply believing certain statements, then what’s to work out?

    St. Peter’s Basilica, multi-million dollar megachurches, I think Jesus is/would be mighty disappointed. Study the Pharisees and look at many (not all) modern-day evangelicals. They look a lot alike. Dogma. Empty displays of religiosity. Judgment. Placing emphasis on recitation of belief statements over genuine acts of love and compassion.

    Finally, Britt Hume showed not only arrogance but ignorance. First, Buddhism is not a religion as that term is normally used nor is it monolithic. There are variations of Buddhism just like Christianity. Second, Buddhist practices seek to enlighten. Through Buddhist practices, it’s entirely possible that Tiger can be “redeemed” of the behavior that Hume finds so abhorrent.

    But then again, What do I know? I can only have faith that I’m living as best I can according to what Jesus said. Of that I’m certain.

  13. TDW, you have a better handle on these things than anyone I know, I’m glad you didn’t ruin yourself by becoming a preacher (half-joking–just about the 2d part tho). I appreciate the serious take and am very glad to have it; however, the satirical version would be something nice to enjoy tomorrow whilst I’m trying to think of exactly what fundamentalist muslim chain emails might look like.

  14. Give me a day or two and I’ll be happy to join you in constructing the finest jihadist chain email ever.

    Back in the day, I wrote a fake chain email about McCain in response to all the craziness going around about Obama.

  15. Mac says:

    TDW, you sound like my kind of Christian.
    TB, I am getting my hopes up on this chain letter/email.

  16. calicobebeop says:

    I have started and deleted this comment at least three times already… Suffice it to say that I think Mr. Hume is a talking ass and whole-heartedly agree that the camera stirs up way too much for our collective good. I don’t know much about religion and faith but I’m pretty sure they are not mutually inclusive. I’ve known some pretty spiritual people who never go to church as well as some down-right dirty dogs who attend every week.

  17. Jessie Lou says:

    TDW – very well put. I also would love to see your satirical version.

    What I took away from the movie Dogma is one statement I believe was made by Chris Rock (as the 13th and lone black disciple) – we are all too busy trying to separate ourselves out when we are supposed to be coming together. I am sure he said it much better.

    Has anyone else ever noticed how much hate you can find in a church? I think that hypocrisy is what drives so many people away.

  18. Harmony says:

    TDW ~ Brilliant! Why are you not keeping up with your blog?

  19. Mike says:

    it is curious how much wrong is done under the name of one religion or another – but, usually negative press gets the publicity so – don’t forget how much good there is too.

  20. irvineredd says:

    JL, knows of my love for Dogma. Fantastically funny movie with a great point.

    A good friend of mine died in a car accident when I was a junior in college. She was quite religious and very active in the baptist church. The service for her became a “I’m going to be more in touch with God because of Lindsay” event. The girl I rode to and from the funeral with decided she needed to have a God talk with me. I explained my position, which is quite academic and diverges from the standard Southern Baptist viewpoint, which she espouses. In response she turned and said, in all seriousness, “I’m really worried that Satan has lead you down the wrong path and has taken over your life.”

    Cue blank stare.

  21. irvineredd says:

    JL, you hit the nail on the head for me.

    I think you were looking for this:

    Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.
    Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good?
    Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier.

  22. irvineredd says:

    Also the only psuedo religious group I’m apart of on the ol’ F-Book, is Jesus Was a Socialist, which my assistant created. FYI, we’re always looking for no members and it requires you to do absolutely nothing.

  23. Mac says:

    The hypocrisy in church is a turnoff but one I can shrug off pretty easily. People are hypocritical animals at their core. Gossiping, hypocritical animals. My problem with church is that all these people are in there, professing their belief in A, B, and C, and I know that given the odds, they have to be wrong about half of it. Add to that the fact that if they had been born in Tikrit, they would all be muslim. I call this geographical religion. I guess my real problem lies with organized religion. I know I’m rambling. Maybe I have a gas leak in my house somewhere. Oh well, may as well keep trudging through. Take that rock at the Temple of the Mount. Muslims believe this is where Muhammed ascended into heaven. Christians believe its where Abraham? (not 100%sure on these facts as I only have enough knowledge about this stuff to be dangerous) was supposed to kill his son. The Jews hold it in high regard for something, I forget what. Now imho SOMETHING went down at that rock. I don’t know what but 90% of the religious world thinks its important. This is part of the reason that I don’t believe any one religion has the whole story. It makes more sense to my feeble mind that when you die, your deeds are weighed good vs bad. Mostly good, congrats, you’re in. Mostly bad, hell or more preferably in my mind, you are sent back for another go at it. The going back til you get it right means that everybody eventually gets in and this makes a generous loving God that I want to believe in. So, anywho, I guess thats enough head spinning for now. I will check back in after awhile and see what you guys and gals think of my insanity.

  24. Harmony says:

    IR ~ That is one of my all time favorite quote from that movie. Well that and “What the fuck happened to that guys head?” (I like tossing that one out when I am confused and ranting).

    Mac ~ I agree with you. I do not (I cannot) believe that one faction of religion is the all knowing. Your Good vs Bad sounds good to me.

  25. Smilyj says:

    The most useful and best advice I’ve ever received about religion didn’t come from a preacher or even a regular church goer. It came from my Dad who never went to church during my lifetime. But he had this huge masonic bible that I can remember, and he read it and could tell you what was in it. I assume he became fed up with the hipocrisy of church long before I was born ( he had a low tolerance for hipocrites and BS’ers) and chose to honor his beliefs in his own way. I know he believed in God, and he taught me to pray at a very young age but he never attended church. I know he was baptised a methodist but he didnt categorize people in religious terms. Anyway, the advice he gave me which I believe he lived by and I haven’t always but try to more as I age was simply this; Don’t do anything that you would be ashamed of doing if Jesus or God were there in the same room with you. Simple huh?

  26. Mac says:

    Sounds like a smart feller Smily. Reminds me of something one of my cousins said only a few months ago (he happens to be an athiest-which I don’t understand them either but thats another story). He said the only rule you need is the Golden Rule. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. I really couldn’t argue his point.

  27. Jessie Lou says:

    The main rule I’ve gotten out of my faith journey is that you need to accept Jesus in your heart and love him with all you’ve got and your neighbor as yourself which is a paraphrase. The rest of life flows from that acceptance which includes what Smily’s dad recommended as well as the Golden Rule.

    If you love a good soap opera just read the book of Genesis – it has it all – sex, greed, lust, revenge, loss and hope.

  28. Mac says:

    Jessie Lou, let me play devils advocate (pun intended) for a sec. Why all the drama in Christianity’s version? Why didn’t God just start over when Adam and Eve ate from the tree? I mean, you just created the whole universe. A simple do-over of two humans seems like a small ripple in the pond. And do you think all of humanity sprang from two peoples loins? Why can’t God just do away with the Devil and evil? It seems like to me that following Christians theory means that we are all playing a silly game with God as the referee. What is the point? Let me also say that I am not trying to discredit you or Christianity in any way. I think its awesome that you have religion and find it rewarding. These are just examples of the 1000 questions I have regarding religion. I would really love to embrace Christianity in its entirety. It would be so much easier. But my mind will not allow it.

  29. Kathy Parker says:

    Reminds me of a great quote I think of often (but can’t remember who said it): “Don’t let Christians ruin Christianity for you.”

  30. Mac says:

    Kathy, Check into the book “I’m fine with God, It’s Christians I Can’t Stand”. Can’t remember the authors names right off hand.

  31. Jessie Lou says:

    Very good quote Kathy and good advice as well.

    Mac – of course, I cannot answer that question for you – I wouldn’t even try. That is one of the good thing about being Catholic (which I am not by the way) they have the great mysteries of faith. I do not have to wrap my head around all of that – I couldn’t if I wanted to. There are a million questions like those. For instance, if God made all of those stars and universes, why did he choose our planet to put people on? Are we the only planet with people of some sort? Is there anybody else out there? Is it the Big Bang or the Creation Theory? Is it Science or Faith or Both? Why not start over? I know why I would not have but then again, I am not God.

    I would never profess to be that smart, besides too many on this site know me personally and can attest that I am not. I say that with much humor intended.

    What I can tell you is that my faith has gotten me through some really awful parts of life as well as some really wonderful parts of life. I’ve come a long way but still have farther to go and much to learn and much to improve upon, for example, in my ideas on forgiveness. Plotting revenge is still something I get enjoyment from.

    Free will is a big part of life and faith. I choose to believe and accept the gift. It works for me.

  32. irvineredd says:

    Mac, I definitely understand those issues.

    An interesting thing a geology teacher once told me was that he believed in God because of the existence of water. Because it is a perfect molecule and without it human beings would not exist, he took that as a sign of God’s existence.

    He outright told people in the class that he wouldn’t discuss creationism because it’s ridiculous, so don’t ask him.

  33. Mac says:

    Yea. I am surprised that religion has not evolved to be more inclusive with science. Is the world 6000 years old? Of course it isn’t. That loses credibility for religion when someone sticks to their guns on the Hebrew age of creation. I could swallow it more easily if they said “Hey, God created all this and waited a long, long time for us to show up”. Of course, that might mean that we’re not all that special and just a very small piece of a very, very large pie. But this would fly in the face of human nature.

  34. This pretty much says it all about the problems with evangelicals. Pat Robertson blames Haiti earthquake on pact with devil

  35. Damn TDW. Just, Damn.

    I give you Exhibit A. Pat Robertson’s God and my God are not the same.

  36. Jessie Lou says:

    Mine either.

  37. irvineredd says:

    Yep I heard about ol P-Rob having his crazy say again. I get a kick out of that guy. Is he a stand up comic? Perhaps a satirist?

  38. I vote we make Cal Thomas live in Haiti. Or, how about we adopt his plan and move a couple hundred of them into his neighborhood? I’m sure he’d be fine with that, being a good Christian and all.

  39. Harmony, I can’t maintain my blog b/c I’m too busy commenting here.

    Seriously, work is crippling my ability to have fun.

  40. Madd Dawg says:

    Even better than P-Rob.

    Actor Danny Glover said that the earthquake was the response for the failure of the Copenhagen summit. It is unclear whether he meant that Mother Earth was punishing us or whether he thought that the earthquake was caused by global warming.

    They must have to shoot his movies line by line as no one that stupid could remember more than one sentence at a time.

  41. It’s all part of the Great Politicization of Every Event Movement — use every event, no matter how benign or natural, to show how it proves your point. Soon, cable shows will have Glover and Robertson on to debate — all in the interest of demonstrating fairness.

    Frankly, I think Haiti is a sign that tort reform was wrong.

  42. Madd Dawg says:

    Yep TDW, that could be it. I was thinking that the power of Tom Osbourne and Eric Crouch had converged to cause the hurricane in protest of that last second being put back on the clock in the Big 12 Championship game a few weeks ago.

  43. Have y’all heard Tiger is reportedly in Hattiesburg getting treatment for his sex addiction? (resisting overwhelming urge to make joke about Southern Miss girls) .

    He may yet end up getting converted. But to what?

  44. irvineredd says:

    I did see something about that earlier today.

  45. I can actually confirm he’s there. A friend of a friend works there it turns out.

  46. Jessie Lou says:

    Well, where is the last place anyone would think to look for Tiger Woods and/or a Sex Addiction Clinic? Why Hattiesburg, MS of course. I looked at their website today – pretty impressive compound. They introduced me to a new term – Sexual Anorexia. A new phrase for “sexually starved” I believe.

  47. quail09 says:

    been waiting for the jokes about tiger in the hburg clinic to start rolling…..”like shooting fish in a barrel” is the first one

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