Fox shock! As was noted on WorldMagBlog yesterday, Brit Hume crossed the line of decency on Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace (and on Sunday, of all days!) by recommending "the Christian faith" to Tiger Woods as the remedy for his personal problems. In case you missed it, here's the clip (viewer discretion advised):
As you can see, reflecting on the mess that Woods has made of his life---his career, his family---Hume pointed out that Woods' religion, which is Buddhism, is ill-equipped to deal with the family side of the crisis, as there is no element of forgiveness and redemption in the Far East religion and philosophy. Essentially, Hume called him to give his heart and life to Christ.
Hume is Episcopalian, which is usually as Protestant as a public figure can become while still remaining respectable. He became much more serious about his faith after the suicide of his son, Sandy Hume, himself a prominent journalist, in 1998. When he stepped down from his role as a Fox News anchor and the news channel's Washington, D.C., managing editor in 2008, he told The Hollywood Reporter about his plans:
I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I'm not claiming it's impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died, I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it's a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you're not really living it.
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, Hume went even further beyond the bounds of good taste and acceptable public morality (see video clip below). He used two of the nine words you must never use on the public airwaves: Jesus Christ. Swearing is OK, but he wasn't swearing. Bill O'Reilly asked him if he was "proselytizing." Hume said he didn't think he was, but of course he was. Hume also denied that he was criticizing Buddhism, but he was obviously pointing out a rather stark and fundamental deficiency in that belief system, especially in comparison to what is found in Christ.
In a 2008 Reuters interview, Woods explained his religious practice this way:
"I practice meditation---that is something that I do, that my mum taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together."
It is not just thoughtless ritual for him, however. He understands the spirit of it quite clearly: "In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it."
Woods, the world's greatest golfer (who was accomplished even from the age of 2, as you can see on the clip below from The Mike Douglas Show) knows what it is to work hard and reach a high level of achievement. It was not just his Buddhism that moved him toward this driven self-reliance. His father, Earl, was in the U.S. Army Special Forces. "A tough guy," said Woods of his dad. And his Thai mother, Kultida, from whom he got his religious beliefs, was even more competitive, according to her son.
What has come crashing down is not only Woods' primary sources of enormous income, but also his sponsorship network, his family life, and, more fundamentally, his entire self-understanding. Great men of extraordinary talent and relentless hard work do not humiliate themselves on such a universal scale. When someone who sees himself as a superman is forced to confront his fundamental human frailty, it is suitable and timely for someone to direct his attention to God's grace for sinners in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Was Hume abusing his position as a newsman on a panel of news analysts? Or was he just offering . . . analysis? Kyle Koster at The Chicago Sun-Times, for example, points out the oddity of "a newsman offering advice to the beleaguered golfer, not a religious pundit. Hume is a senior political analyst, so why is he doing his Bible-thumping on one of the station's news programs?"
Why should Christian categories and the spiritual dimension of the lives of public figures be forbidden in media discussion that is pitched to a broad audience? Most Americans identify themselves as Christian. So when "we," through our journalists in the media, discuss our shared life, why should we pretend that we are an atheistic state like China, or an aggressively secularist state like France? That is an America that exists only in the minds and longing hearts of the secularists and libertines who dominate most of the media these days. But Fox News does not share that view. That may be part of the reason so many Americans prefer Fox for their TV news and analysis. Fox speaks their language and reports from within their world. Anyone who wants reporting and opinion with the presupposition of a Godless universe has many alternatives on other channels.