I wish to formally nominate television newscaster and commentator Brit Hume for, well, whatever I can nominate him for!
You’ve probably heard by now about the controversy and web buzz because a television commentator suggested that a public figure who has encountered personal difficulties consider the Christian faith as part of his restorative process. The actual clip which started the firestorm is here. Beliefnet’s own Ethan Nichtern has captured quite a bit here. There’s also a great audio link from NPR here.
The core of the controversy stems from these words from Brit Hume, while appearing as part of a panel on Fox News:
“I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, Tiger, turn your faith, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”
Way ta go, Brit!!
Really, the genius of his statement was sublime. First, let’s consider what this was not. Mr. Hume’s comments were not those of a televangelist. They were not the words of a megachurch preacher. They were not the words of a Christian author peddling his or her latest book. Nor was he playing the role of a religious leader trying to raise money for his cause.
Further, his message was not one of condemnation towards everyone who is Buddhist. It was not a pronouncement of where Mr. Woods–or anyone else for that matter–would be spending their eternity. Nor was it of the pulpit-banging ilk that so many people associate with spokespeople for the Christian faith.
Brit Hume spoke up for a faith tradition that offers hope and help for those who are hurting, for those with habits and hang-ups who’re looking for a better way. He spoke to that component of Christianity that gets so darn little coverage on TV: the forgiveness, peace and empowerment that comes when one is loved by the God of the universe and in a personal relationship with Him.
I have no problem with those who would choose another faith system, or believe that another message was more viable than that of Christ, or those who would choose to believe that other texts are more reliable than the Bible.
But Brit Hume has suffered criticism for even suggesting that Tiger Woods consider Christianity as an option. If our cultural paranoia has become so great that even the suggestion of a faith consideration is considered offensive, then we’ll soon be at a place where no one will ever want to say anything of substance, and merely those who get themselves in trouble will dominate the tabloids and news. (Hmnnn, are we already there yet? Okay, we’ll leave that for another post later.)
We have far too many commentary shows which spend far too much time with far too many people not saying anything of substance. When someone finally does, there are those who would cry that it’s out of place. I think if it were the norm, there wouldn’t be such an appearance of a problem, and Mr. Hume’s words would stand as what they were: one person’s perspective on how the Christian faith could intersect the life of someone in need and produce a better result for his life. That is a hopeful message, one I hope was not lost in a blogosphere usually more amped by controversy and more prone to line up behind common patterns rather than uncommon wisdom. And I further hope it wasn’t lost on Tiger Woods.
I’m sorry that this all came up too late in the year to nominate Brit Hume for Beliefnet.com’s Most Inspirational Person of the Year. I hope we remember him come December when we make the 2010 nominations!