Monday, January 04, 2010

Should Tiger Convert?

Is it my imagination, or do the other members of this panel look embarrassed by Brit Hume's out-of-his-depth comment?

Here's what I think is wrong with what he said. It's not exactly that he misunderstands Buddhism. In my outsider's view of the matter, it is true that Buddhism does not promise forgiveness of sins. I also think (though this would be controversial) that it is misleading at best to apply the word "redemption" to any important Buddhist idea.

Isn't that a flaw? How is Tiger, if he is actually a practicing Buddhist (which I rather doubt, but let's suppose for the sake of the argument) going to get forgiveness for his sins?

Well, the real problem with Hume's comment is that he seems to be treating sin and the resulting guilt as if they were facts of nature. In fact, they only exist within the context of world-views like the Christian one. As is pointed out here, Buddhists don't need forgiveness because they don't believe in sin in the first place.

The soothing balm of God's forgiveness is the solution to a very real problem, but it is a problem that is created by Christian morality in the first place.

Woods has made a terrible mess of his personal life and should strive to earn the forgiveness (if it is still possible) of his wife and, one day, of his children. To understand this situation we need certain moral concepts -- such as vice, betrayal, and offense -- which we find in all civilizations and all moralities. To these potent ideas the Christian adds a notion of even greater moral amperage: the idea of sin, which is an offense ultimately, not against human victims, but against God.

I don't mean to be flippant about this. I would imagine that there are people who do derive benefit from this extra dimension, from thinking that, in addition to all the others who are harmed and aggrieved by their wrongs and betrayals, they have also offended the Creator of the universe. Those same people also derive benefit from being forgiven by the Creator. But to offer that forgiveness to Woods is to offer him something that, if he does not already have a personal relationship with a highly moralistic God, he probably cannot use and does not need.


talkingtj said...

it was just plain arrogance on the part of brit hume, he was pandering to the percieved idea that most of the fox viewership is hardcore christain, why is christainity the only religion allowed to be so obnoxiously in everyone elses face? why maintain the idea that all other religions are wrong? i was once catholic, once!i couldnt take the guilt, the morbidness or the arrogance.just recently the new cardinal of new york complained that too many people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, he said thats like being a sheep without the sheppard, excuse me, IAM NOT A SHEEP, and i dont need any political/religious middleman to define my relationship with any higher being if there is one. brit hume needs to be reminded of two words that define his chosen advocation: JOURNALIST OBJECTIVITY.

Will S. said...

I am inclined to believe that almost no-one in the American Establishment neocon Right is truly Christian, as they seem to promote it more as a means of social cohesion (to give society a common moral framework to live by), or problem-solving for when an individual particularly messes up their lives in an obvious way, rather than a faith meant for all of life, regardless of whether or not that puts followers on the side of the authorities or against them. They're very opportunistic, and statements like Brit Hume's are as absurd as Ann Coulter's hysterical rant "We should kill all their leaders, and convert their countries to Christianity!", in the wake of 9/11. Which shows how little they truly understand the faith. Too bad so many Christians today are so naive, and get taken in by such B.S.