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.