What to say about Brit Hume’s advice to Tiger Woods, vouchsafed on Fox News Sunday?
“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,”
Hume said. “He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith
offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the
Christian faith. My message to Tiger would, ‘Tiger, turn to the
Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”
Buddhism seriously practiced would actually seem to be a pretty good way to recover from the need to have sex with whatever strikes your fancy. Central to that faith are the Four Noble Truths, which stress the importance of overcoming trishna–literally “thirst,” but also translated as desire, clinging,
craving, or lust. Item 4 on Buddhism’s Eightfold Path is “right action,” defined as abstaining from hurtful behaviors,
such as killing, stealing, and careless sex.
But then, Hume might also have suggested that Tiger embrace Judaism, where teschuvah is the prescribed means of returning to God. Or Islam, where repentance (at-tawbah) is an important part of the Hajj. Come to think of it, Christianity makes the whole business of forgiveness and redemption a good deal more complicated than other faiths, what with its endless fussing over the mechanism of grace. Even as we speak, the Southern Baptists are busy contesting resurgent Calvinism in their midst.
But perhaps what Hume had in mind by way of total recovery and exemplariness was the sort of turn to Christianity that helped many a felon get pardoned by Mike Huckabee when he was governor of Arkansas. Make a public acknowledgment of Jesus and you will be redeemed in the eyes of the American public, and maybe even your corporate sponsors. That’s the kind of forgiveness that Buddhism doesn’t offer.
Update: Darren Sherkat has run the numbers, and it turns out that Buddhist men have the lowest (self-reported) rate of infidelity of all male religious groupings. (“Nones” and “Christians” come in first and second.)