Tiger Woods and Bad Karma

Robert Pigott, the BBC’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, has written a fascinating blog post that manages to embrace the Tiger Woods scandal and Iris Robinson’s in one hit.  Therefore, as religious affairs articles go, it’s good value for money.

Pigott refers to a television panel discussion that included Brit Hume – a prominent political analyst on the Fox network.  Hume, apparently, suggested that Tiger Woods should probably convert to Christianity (he’s a Buddhist).  Hume felt that Woods would find it easier to obtain forgiveness as a Christian.  This has caused quite a storm in the US. 

Iris Robinson, handily, is an evangelical Christian.  She has made clear that forgiveness has already been provided: “I am comforted that He was able to forgive even me.”  However, despite this, she still seems to be in need of psychiatric help.  No amount of heavenly forgiveness removes all that bad karma. 

I often wonder if the reason why Christianity is so popular is because of the sin/forgiveness duality.  During the years of Northern Ireland’s troubles one often heard about convicted paramilitary thugs finding Jesus in prison.  One wonders why Jesus didn’t find them before they committed their crimes. 

Buddhists, as pointed out by Pigott in his piece, don’t really ‘do’ sin or forgiveness – because they do not peddle the idea of a supernatural being that provides forgiveness and redemption.  Rather they argue that one can live one’s life in a way that causes suffering to others – and one has to learn to improve based on an appreciation of this suffering.  In that sense there is a strong humanist core to the religion (although also a great deal of mumbo jumbo). 

My take on this is very simple.  One can live one’s life in such a way that it can get 1) very complicated; 2) very hurtful to others; 3) very legally dodgy.  All three result in stress.  Therefore it’s probably better not to have too complicated, hurt-inducing, or illegal a modus operandi – in order to avoid stress.  It’s simple.  Moreover it’s neither Christian nor Buddhist.

About these ads

10 Responses

  1. So, life is all about… avoiding stress.

    How profound.

  2. That was my view.

  3. I was simply offering you the opportunity to elaborate. The reason I referred to “stress” was that it was the reason cited for Iris Robinson’s mental anguish. There was supposed to be a degree of irony. Sorry if it was too subtle.

  4. Ahh, very good – I see what you did there with that last little bit.

    I’d try to elaborate except, well, what is there to elaborate on? By the thrust of this article it seems you think life is all about some kind of self-preservatory avoidance of stress.

    I, for reasons that you would reject at the outset, do not. And remain unimpressed at the banality of the suggestion.

    And so we reach an impasse…

  5. I was referring to two people who had caused considerable suffering to those they professed to love. I wasn’t making any more general point. I gather you are a Roman Catholic. Your church is fond of telling people how they should live their lives. I suppose I believe people should reach decisions on how they live their lives based on the effects those decisions might have on others and themselves. The reason I chose the “stress” word has been explained. Take it or leave it. And while on the subject of stress I’d suggest you go drink some of your favourite Northern beer and relax.

  6. Well, someone is slightly rattled, and has obviously read my blog profile, hence the rather crude caricatures. I suppose I ought to be flattered.

    I always find it amusing how those who profess no religion yet seem to think they have a rock-solid understanding of other people’s faiths – and reject it accordingly. My Church is no more fond of telling people how to live their lives than the average humanist/atheist/secularist is of telling people how to live theirs – the difference is one of message, not manner.

    And as for your own personal philosophy, as you enunciate here – it’s an honourable worldview, though you have just more or less plagiarised it from the very religious tradition that makes your own philosophical stance possible.

    And at that I’ll leave it there – to aid your own surging stress levels, might I suggest a pint of mild?

  7. I think you’ll find that the church – especially the Catholic Church – mandates a moral code. My personal view is that people should abide by an ethical code – as outlined elsewhere on this site. Most Catholics, as you point out, ignore the church teaching on, for example, contraception and sex before marriage etc. You imply that you do too. As for Atheists – we are a motley bunch and have no ‘good book’. Therefore we have no interest in how people live their lives unless, of course, they fly planes into skyscrapers in the hope of salvation, or rape children in Church-managed “care homes”.

    As for plagiarism, are you suggesting that before the Christian faith there was no moral or ethical dimensions in the lives of our ancestors. Was there no reciprosity or decency or love? Was there no altruism?

    As human beings what distinguises us is our capacity for caring about each other and other sentient beings around us. We don’t need religions to tell us how to behave – because, frankly, they don’t do a very good job of it.

  8. Thank you for explaining my faith to me, and my religion, and making (erroneous) assumptions regarding my faithfulness or otherwise to the dogmas of my Church. A quick fisk:

    ‘I think you’ll find that the church – especially the Catholic Church – mandates a moral code. My personal view is that people should abide by an ethical code’

    You seem to have a rather flimsy grasp of the nature of that ‘moral code’ – which informs your erroneous dichotomy between ethics and morals for the Christian.

    ‘Most Catholics, as you point out, ignore the church teaching on, for example, contraception and sex before marriage etc. You imply that you do too.’

    Could you prove this?

    ‘or rape children in Church-managed “care homes”.

    Ahh, the ad hominem again. Now, let me see, can I think of any truly evil people who were atheists… hmmmm…. Or anyone committing savage crimes whilst working for the state perhaps….hmmmmm. Childish.

    ‘As for plagairism, are you suggesting that before the Christian faith there was no moral or ethical dimensions in the lives of our ancestors. Was there no reciprosity or decency or love? Was there no altruism?’

    Of course not. I’m suggesting before God there was none of these things. And that your very humanist faith is a theological position, springing from a collusion of particular Christian intellectual traditions.

    ‘As human being what distinguises us is our capacity for caring about each other and other sentient beings around us. We don’t need religions to tell us how to behave – because, frankly, they don’t do a very good job of it.’

    It takes an impressive level of bigotry to dismiss the positive role of religion in the lives and works of so many billions of people – past, present and, I’m glad to say, future. Bravo.

    And now I definitely shall leave it there. Thanks for the ‘debate’.

  9. There is no humanist faith. Atheists do not perform illegal or immoral acts because they are atheists.

    The trouble with people of religion is that you assume that if people are not Catholic or HIndu they have to be something – and they have to behave in ways that are defined by a group. You claim to be a Conservative but you assume that no-one can arrive at conclusions based on individual thought. You also presume that ethics or morality are defined by theological teaching – and yet you have no means of proving that. I have never had belief in a God. I believe that altruism is something that is biologically hard-wired into us. Many evolutionary biologists have written about this.

    All religions are highly revisionist. Many were highly brutal in the past (and recent past) but most have been refined and made acceptable by our common law – not the other way around. If you were transported back in time just 50 or 100 years your church would appear very different to you. Go back 200 years or less and you’d find people of ‘faith’ using God to justify the stoning of adulterers or the slaying of witches.

    You are very welcome to your belief. But to presume that your faith has defined our modern ethical systems and norms is arrogant in the extreme. People have defined those norms – despite religions, not because of them.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: