Godspeed Blog

Godspeed Blog
October 22
Welcome to Godspeed, the blog of the Godspeed Institute, written by CAER HALLUNDBAEK, award-winning author, educator and communicator on contemporary faith. A founding director of the Institute, she is the host of the popular radio program Godspeed which airs on the Progressive Radio Network and online every week. For inspiration and upbeat conversations with spiritual leaders around the world, visit: www.godspeedinstitute.com.


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 5, 2010 1:38PM

Buddhists vs. Brit: Tiger and Hume

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I am calling this post 'Buddhists vs. Brit' in accordance with the open call request -- but I need to add that when we use the term 'vs.' as part of anything relating to spirituality, we're beginning our journey on very shaky theological ground -- whether it's OS vs FOX, or Buddhism vs Christianity.

 In general, when we speak of religion, conversations tend to become this-or-that, right or wrong -- even within our own denominations -- and we don't get very far.

When we move beyond the institutional idea of the faiths, and into the more mystical ties that unite us, we see that Buddhists need no proof of worth, and that Christians require no defense.

As an author on the saints, who embody for me the mystical life of the church, I can see the overarching themes of love, forgiveness and transcendence that flow through and enliven all the world's faiths. But they may materialize in different ways. And these different ways are... beautiful...and not pitted against each other.

Christianity is known in part for its sharp conversion of heart. Many spiritual leaders and masters have come to help and guide humanity through the centuries (Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, etc) and have offered us tools to live a better life closer to the Source, whatever we may call it.

What Jesus did in particular was to demonstrate death and resurrection in a vivid, shocking way -- the kind of change that takes place when there is no one else, no where else, nothing else to turn to; when we are cornered and surrounded; when friends have become our enemies (like Woods); when we have to turn ourselves over in a manner having nothing to do with a process or practice, and become a new creation, in one moment surrendering our former life. This change applies to souls from St. Paul getting knocked off his high horse, to St. Francis of Assisi suffering as a prisoner of war, to down-and-out Bowery drunks who -- one day -- look up from the gutter.

It is a death to self, or emptying of self, as Buddhists might say, and perhaps the same experience of awakening as when Buddha touched the earth in enlightenment.

But in Christianity this shift can be as sudden and jarring as all the new life and elements that explode into the universe when a star dies.  This is what is 'unique' about Christ, and perhaps why the 12-Step Programs of recovery found their beginnings in the Christian tradition, regardless of the openness to the inclusive images and terminology of a Higher Power that evolved. Recovery would require such a surrender to new life. And it would seem that Tiger Woods is in need of some kind of recovery.

While Brit Hume may have blundered into Tiger Woods' personal beliefs and practices, perhaps his suggestion came from a genuine place or (who knows) personal experience.

In any case, Hume considered that the solution to Tiger Woods' problems might be spiritual in nature -- and for that, he was correct.



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Wonderful post. You hit the nails on the head. No offense to the Christian religion.
And exactly why is this post an editor's choice?

I can't even figure out what the poster's actual opinion, if any, is about Hume calling upon Woods to change his religion. 12 Step programs owe as much to Jung as to Jesus, and probably moreso, and are not drawn from the Christian tradition. In fact, the founders of AA founded AA because they found that resorting to religion did not work for them. That they were Christians themselves inevitably led to their use of some phrases drawn from their Christianity but the closest AA comes to adopting a religious precept is that they most often meet in churches....because churches have given them shelter since AA was founded, and it's a good way to get people back into church.
Hi Sagemerlin, I hear what you're saying. But I feel it's fair to say that the founders of AA turned from religion alone -- nonetheless retaining the Lord's Prayer, and the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, an American theologian.
I like the concept of this post, although I wish it wasn't about Tiger Woods or his life, as that would be best left up to Tiger and out of the media.

I have a different understanding of how AA was started, as it borrowed both from Christianity (The original Oxford groups six tenets) and Carl Jung. They expanded and changed those precepts into 12 steps. It is easy to see they are inspired by Christian wording, but not its theology (although Christianity tries to make that claim at times).

Anywho, like to see more of this in the future.
It's worth noting that although Brit Hume might be correct about Tiger Wood's problem being spiritual in nature, it appears he has *no idea what he is talking about* : http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_01/021761.php
Hi Sparking,
At Fordham I studied both theology and Carl Jung and found they go hand in hand. But I don't think spirituality is inspired by 'wording' -- it's inspired by action and change and need. To me, the 12 Steps as developed mirror the actual movement of growth in Christian theology -- surrender, acceptance, belief, reflection and confession, release, renewal, and passing on the gift -- or what I might call the Easter Motion. We all interpret things in different ways -- what is important to me is to be able to see the beauty in Christian spirituality as we do in Buddhist, and not throw out the baby Jesus with the bath water -- as it were. Thanks for commenting --
Hume insulted Buddhists worldwide and sponsors should drop faux "news" as fast as they dropped Tiger. But I bet that doesn't happen.
Carole -

I wasn't very clear - excuse me. I actually agree with you. What I was speaking to was the history of AA and how Bill W. and Dr. Bob and the first 100 members came upon the wording they used to write the 12 steps. They were trying to steer away from a closed, Christian only concept, as I believe SageMerlin already said, but they did draw from it nonetheless (as well as Carl Jung). I wasn't speaking directly to spirituality or Buddhism in any way.

I am guessing you read my post, which was snark. I love the concepts of Christianity and especially its mystical roots. What I don't like is TV evangelical Christianity as espoused by many careless television personalities from the position of judging others. It actually sheds a dark light on Christianity - hence my (snarky) post.

I assure you, I have not thrown Jesus out with the bathwater. I have done quite a bit of studying myself.
This is excellent, Carole. The paragraph on death and resurrection is captivating. Frankly, I am stunned -- and delighted -- that this received an EP. Currently the OS cover has three articles on the Tiger/Brit kerfuffle. Each conveys a unique message. Such ideological diversity represents a change for OS -- a positive change. Suddenly we see articles chosen for quality of writing and clarity of expression rather than for ideological slant. I hope this is the beginning of a trend. I used to avoid the OS cover. Not anymore. Thank you for this post.
My thoughts were similar to Blevins' comment. I am surprised to see this as an EP. The content is definitely a shift. The clarity of writing is visible.
Changing religions doesn't change one's past. It may offer a crutch to believe you are somehow not responsible anymore for your actions but in reality if you screwed up , face and accept the consequences. Its self responsibility that is necessary for correcting bad behavior, not some mystical hodge-podge of supernatural forgiveness.
I gave my mother a bas relief statue of St. Francis of Assisi for Christmas that I got at the botanical garden visit two days before. I guess I'm thinking of spiritual appropriateness. I agree with the vs. take you propose but I think that everything Tiger needs spiritually, he can find in the way and words of the Buddha without being jarred. He was probably jarred enough falling off his public pedestal. Not that his notorious daliances are anything new. I guess I'm thinking of Thomas Merton meets the Dalai Llama. I appreciate your take on the death and resurrection and it is eloquently written. I do beg to differ in saying that if Tiger was a truly practicing Buddhist he would be experiencing the 'new life and elements' that are not unique to Jesus. I think the confusion here is coming from blurring the life history of these two men with the much more powerful and spiritual way, words and legacy they selflessly gave us. Buddha left palatial living, all his luxuriant comforts and worldly goods, family, everything and struck out on his own after never going beyond palace gates. Imagine what that must have been like for a young man...I'm presuming from your bio, you have read Merton. Nice to see another Maine transplant here. Congratulations on your EP and cover.
Dear Carole Hallundbaek,
I just realized I had not thank you for your Open Call response. I was going to write something very different from what I did end up submitting, but when I read your post I was inspired. I agree with you re the spiritual part. I decided, then, to reflect more on what it is that bothered me about Hume's comment. The result of that reflection was my piece.
Your writing inspired me, for that, I thank you again.
I think you're right that Woods needs to recover from something on some level, and I agree he would find help in Christianity in getting that help, although I think he would find help in his own faith as well. What is disturbing in this Hume blunder is not that he thinks Woods needs to address his circumstances through his spirituality but that he used his position as a news reporter to express his opinion. Brit Hume is a newsman, a reporter with decades of experience in objective journalism despite his current position with Fox, a non-objective media outlet. If Hume had made his statement in a private setting, off the record, with friends or family, this discussion would be entirely different. It's his misuse of his role in journalism that has caused this stir.
Amen for Brit Hume, speaking the truth!
Both Hume and Woods can use a healthy dose of self-awareness, which can be acquired without any religious conversion.

The last thing Woods needs is to convert and then use his newly-acquired "forgiveness" as some kind of an endless "get out of jail free" card, as so many hypocrites we know do.

If Hume wants to lecture on television about how his religion is better than anybody else's, he needs to get himself a religious talk show, not pretend it is an appropriate topic for a news event talk show.
"Enough said!
Vasu Murti"

Actually way more than enough as, with this windbag, it is always nonsensical self agrandizement which almost everyone ignores as much as they ignore my own comments.

BTW-I am an atheist who is an alcoholic and have been C&S for 21+ years.
I have found my own way for that which works best for me and live a happy and postitively satisfying and fulfilled life.
Also, Woods is not MY enemy. He is his own.
I wish him well and have no self important superiority/pontifically based axe to grind.

Or, alternately, the current concept of metaphysics is simply a fairy tale with a beginning and end, as Heidegger nicely pointed out.

Or, alternately, what "Jesus did in particular was to demonstrate death and resurrection" by being appropriated the latest (hundreds previous) coming of the Corn God, celebrated on the two solstices and being purely based on celestial transit. Actually, this is exactly what happened.

I'd remind folks that Tiger has done very, very well considering how his early stage child development was completely appropriated by his father into golf for his own selfish and vicarious reasons -- Look at the few other examples- Todd Marinovich comes to mind- and Tiger looks like a model citizen.


OS, I expect much more ... this sounds like People Mag.

Hi folks... I copied and emailed vasumurti the extensive comments on vegetarianism and suggested they be posted at vasumurti's blog instead (they really are articles). Please continue that passionate discussion there! :) Thanks...
Dear Carole, Thanks for a stimulating blog that puts Brit Hume's controversial remarks into perspective. However I disagree with the conclusion that salvation of Tiger Wood's problems might be sprirtual in nature. Painfully aware that religious and spiritual matter defies reasonable resolution I observe celebrity marriage and divorce from an economist's practical perspective convinced that they could rather than compound average people's problems reduce rampant divorce risk. If Elin and Tiger reconcile in their 2 little children's best interest the commonweal would benefit. Their global popularity could encourage millions of frustrated singles disasterous divorce experience scared out of the marriage market how to find a trustworthy co-parent and partner for the rest of their life, start a family and enjoy their grandchildren together.
This is to invite you and whoever may be intersted to visit work-in-progress our youngest daughter posted on Open Salon 2 weeks ago or an Elin & Tiger Woods up-date the New York Times didn't see fit to print our oldest daughter and her husband of 20 years posted on my behalf on LA's jewishjournal.com today. A reader mocked my comment on Tom Shales Washington Post column for suggesting to include Brit Hume in their prayers. Nothing could be further from my mind than stiff Open Salon contributors whose blogs I enjoy. A metaphor for big burocracies' efficiency excuses me.
Neither a citizen nor resident ofr the United States I may quarterly report meager income from sources within this country but am not eligible to tip or receive tips from the Openn Salon community.
The core of marriage, of any covenant, is spiritual -- ergo, the astronomical divorce rate in the U.S. where the nature of union (which includes sacrifice) is not explored, let alone encouraged as a something beneficial and life-giving! E. Paul, thank you for your thoughtful post -- I enjoy hearing from readers in other places.
The solution to anyone's problems is generally spiritual in nature, isn't it?
Carole I notice you h ave somewhat of a religious background, I would like to know how offensive you find Brit Hume's remarks to Tiger Woods on his Christian conversion and forgiveness and how great this would be? When are reporters of the news suppose to interject their religious beleifs? Fox has gone way beyond the Constitution on it's religious condemnation of everyone that doesn't agree with their beleifs! I am a catholic, 12 years of catholic school and indoctrination and I was taught not to impose my beleifs on anyone...there is nothing Christian about Fox news Christians and they prove it over and over from Beck to O'Reilley, to Brit Hume...the FCC should revoke their license !Theyobviously know nothing about the Dhali Lhama and Buddhist!!!
I do have a religious background as a theologian and did my graduate studies at Maryknoll and Fordham, both Catholic -- these days I consider my self catholic small 'c', or "universal" -- the actual meaning of the word.

I am glad to have worked on TV programs like "Religion & Ethics" (PBS) and others. It is fun to learn about others' beliefs while deepening my own.
Interesting post, but I can't agree with this, I don't think that he's problems might be spiritual in nature. Cazare Predeal

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