You might have heard about Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales’ recent diatribe against Fox News’ analyst Brit Hume. What got Shales so upset was this quote from Hume, commenting on the Tiger Woods fiasco, and suggesting that Tiger look into becoming a Christian, converting from his supposed current faith of Buddhism…
“I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.”
Before we go any further, please note that while not exactly politically correct, Hume’s take on Christianity versus Buddhism is precisely correct. Buddhism offers no means for forgiveness of sins, and any redemption would only occur by being reborn.
Yet, Shales’ ignorance of such basics provides no impediment whatsoever for him to dish it out…
“Brit Hume was certainly full of something on ‘Fox News Sunday’ this week. Hume, a part-time analyst at Fox since stepping down from his daily anchor role, sought to redefine the job of political pundit, apparently, when he stepped boldly up to the task of telling people what religious beliefs they ought to have.
“It sounded a little like one of those Verizon vs. AT&T commercials — our brand is better than your brand — except that Hume was comparing two of the world’s great religions, not a couple of greedy communications conglomerates. Further, is it really his job to run around trying to drum up new business? He doesn’t really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize?”
“Whatever his motivations, and however his statement regarding Woods reflected Hume’s own emotional turmoil, the remark will probably rank, even only a few days into January, as one of the most ridiculous of the year.”
“Hume has a message for Woods; lots of people will have a message for Hume. First off, apologize. You gotta. Just say you are a man who is comfortable with his faith, so comfortable that sometimes he gets a wee bit carried away with it.”
It is deliciously ironic that a toe-tag liberal like Shales will complain when someone tells people what religious beliefs they ought to have, against a backdrop of forced secularism in nearly all aspects of public life. What good is having a religious belief if you can never express it, except behind closed doors?
While it would be impertinent to suggest that Buddhism is probably more of a philosophy rather than a religion, you would think that Shales might have some inkling that Christians are, in fact, called to evangelize. I suspect that we will be waiting for a long time for Shales to explain why Hume’s statement is “ridiculous.” Non-PC, perhaps; but ridiculous, no.
Shales’ rant would have been bad enough, but some writers—reacting to the controversy—made things even worse. Check out the remarks made by Welton Gaddy, pastor for preaching and worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, LA, appearing in the Washington Post‘s “On Faith” column…
“Having served as a Christian minister for 50 years, I am delighted to see my faith discussed in public. However, I am not pleased to see my faith used in a utilitarian manner whether the issue is personal forgiveness or national politics. Unfortunately, the manipulation of faith has become so common that to many it now seems acceptable.”
“[T]he implication of Mr. Hume’s suggestion to Mr. Woods is utilitarian–you will get a better deal related to forgiveness in Christianity than you can get in Buddhism. Christianity is not a means to an end; it is a holistic faith to be embraced and lived. Seeking the easiest form of forgiveness–though such a description of forgiveness in Christianity is woefully inadequate and misleading–is not a reason to become a Christian.”
This is breathtakingly stupid, coming as it does from a Christian clergyman. Given that a major selling point of Christianity is that it promises a path to salvation and the remission of sins, how in the world is that NOT utilitarian for a mere mortal? How is this NOT a means to an end, and what is wrong with that?
Then, there would be those voices on the right side, who seem to miss the bigger point, in favor of embracing the controversy. Tim Graham—Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center—does a decent enough job of attacking Shales…
“What an ignorant secular liberal. If Shales knew much about Christianity or the Bible, he’d know that every Christian is encouraged to share their faith. After all, if you think you have the secret to eternal life, isn’t sharing it an act of kindness? But Shales thought Hume was a walking, talking skit on Saturday Night Live that could barely be topped.”
But, Graham, along with nearly every other commentator, was somehow unable to transcend the PC barrier and just state what I said much earlier in this piece: Hume’s take on Christianity versus Buddhism is precisely correct.
In such an environment, is it any wonder that Shales can luxuriate in his woeful ignorance?