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.