JANUARY 5, 2010 9:39PM

Open Letter to Brit Hume

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Buddha sits

Dear Mr. Hume:

I am not a television viewer of any regular status (nor, on the rare occasion that might find me taking in a broadcast of some kind or another, a watcher of the FOX television network) but I do keep up with the news of the day. It appears certain of your recent on-air comments directed to Tiger Woods got quite a few current affairs junkies chattering away on television, in newspapers and across the Internet's blogosphere and Twitterverse.

Ordinarily, I might be inclined to say something like, "Bravo sir!" except in your case, you seem to have stepped into something with quite an unpleasant smell. 

As your comments to Mr. Woods, whose self-inflicted descent into the mire of tabloid rapacity I have been largely inclined to ignore since its initial flare-up, touched on a couple of subjects with which I am familiar -- upon which I have considered opinions -- I'm compelled to waste a little breath and a bunch of pixels to give you the benefit of my own view.

I expect no gratitude; your awareness and enlightenment as to certain truths will comprise their own reward.

Reading the transcript of your original remarks and that recounting your explication of them on Bill O'Reilly's program afterward, what struck me most was your glaring misapprehension of both Buddhism and Christianity.

Buddhism is not a religion. Believing it to be so is a common misconception held by those who have not studied it -- especially among westerners, who have only come into meaningful contact with Buddhism and its practitioners in the last century. And yet, the principles of Buddhist thought were established more than 2500 years ago. And they form the basis for living among an estimated 6% of the world's population.

Your original statement, "I don't think that faith [referring to Buddhism] offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith" pricked up people's ears and your following suggestion that Tiger get under the Christian tent really set 'em off.

But you know what?  Your were right, if unintentionally so.

Buddhism doesn't offer the same kind of forgiveness and redemption offered by Christianity. It offers -- in the marketing parlance of one of the greatest branding triumphs ever conceived -- the real thing. 

You see, with Buddhism, the secret sauce is inside, while Christianity and almost everything else revered in western culture measures things like forgiveness and redemption in relation to things external.

Who are we, Mr. Hume? Who are you, and who am I, who is Dick Cheney or Nancy Pelosi or Michael Vick or Tiger Woods or any one of the planet's howevermany billions of people, but collections of meat and bones and blood and neurons that perceive whatever it is we call reality from inside, looking out?

Thus, any true forgiveness or redemption must necessarily come from inside ourselves and not from without --  because whatever is "out there" is just a figment of our perception. Because each of us is unique, whatever is external to us is different in the eyes and ears and hearts and minds of every individual. Whatever praise or condemnation any of us deserves is necessarily a function of our inner lives and not of anything that can exist outside ourselves.

Jesus.  I'm wading into the deep end here.

In the end, if Tiger Woods is ever to find any kind of forgiveness or redemption, he will find it within, and Buddhism -- should he be a true practitioner of its guidance for living -- offers his only salvation in that regard.

With respect to my assessment of your misapprehension of Christianity I must offer this disclosure; I am not a Christian. I was educated by Christians, and I have studied the teachings of Jesus Christ in both literary and philosophical disciplines, but I do not ascribe to the religious values of any church that claims Jesus Christ as its founder.

It seems to me something like 90% of the people on this planet who claim to be guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ have spent no time studying those teachings or attempting to use them as guidelines for their own behaviour.

Fully one third of the people who claim a religious affiliation claim Christianity as their own -- and yet wars are waged endlessly in Jesus' name and the countries which hold him in the highest regard seem to have the highest numbers of poor and wretched among them. This is prima facie evidence of a major disconnect from the man's teachings.

Some believe Jesus himself spent much of his twenties studying Buddhism, and those of us who have taken the time to investigate the matter have no difficulty recognizing the confluence of ideals that form the basis of each system of thought. 

The ultimate difference as it's manifested in the modern world lies in the desire of so-called adherents of the teachings of Jesus Christ for temporal and political power. Followers of the teachings of the historical Buddha, on the other hand, are interested in no power other than that which guarantees freedom from the suffering attendant on fear and attraction.

So.

I wish you well, Mr. Hume, and I hope you might find the time and the space to sit and meditate on the ways in which Buddhism and Christianity spring from common ground.

There is no competition between the two.
 

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Comments

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Oh, thank goodness! I don't have to write a post about how Buddhism is not a religion...thank youuuuu.....I'm a Jewbu! No competition between the two either....xox
*applause!* standing ovation!
namaste :)
Nice post (rated). I think asking Brit to sit and meditate is a waste of time.
On the advice of my therapist, who I believe would call herself a Christian, I just started listening to "The Roots of Buddhist Philosophy" - thinking maybe I should send Brit a copy.
You're all missing the point. Brit is a common Christian. ;-)
Beautifully put, Lonnie. So much worry about redemption. From what--for what--are we being redeemed?
Very interesting -- and superbly written. I'm confused about one sentence: "The countries which hold him in the highest regard seem to have the highest numbers of poor and wretched among them." Is this accurate? It strikes me as strange. In any case, fascinating post, Lonnie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
I'm trying to figure out how to link all of these posts together, because there are some really good insights on various ones, but no one seems to have seen all of them.

The essence of the problem lies in Christianity's assertion of its pre-emptive supremacy over other creeds and religions based upon the supposedly miraculous events surrounding the life of their founder, for which the only evidence are the supposed recollections of men with a vested interest in the veneration of that individual.

By contrast, the life and teachings of the Buddha are matters of historical record, clearly and copiously documented by historians of various persuasions.

The fanatical insistence of Christian-mongers that others come around to their beliefs is that our continuing refusal to do so casts doubt upon their certitude, a failing shared by the followers of Mohammad.

Jews, Hindus and Buddhists don't really care whether you join them or not, as long as you leave them alone to practice their own religions in the ways they want. Jews, until recently, actively discouraged converts. The Hindu religion is so tightly interwoven with Indian culture that, in order to adopt one, you almost certainly must adopt the other as well. Some strains of Buddhism are culturally interwoven with certain cultures, but Buddhists aren't known for their proselytizing activities but, unlike the Hindu religion from which it sprang, Buddhism makes simple the convoluted and complicated belief system of the Hindu religion in a form suitable for export.

In this way, Buddhism is to Hinduism as Christianity is to Judaism, which is also a culture bound religion, in that Buddhism, like Christianity, is more accessible to converts because it isn't culture bound.

It is, therefore, in the nature of Christianity to present itself as a preferable solution to life's dilemmas, because it depends upon conversion to reinforce its faith in itself.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In action watch the timing.
No fight: No blame.
-Lao Tzu
Okay, now I think I might have to find Mr. Hume's infamous remarks and submit to the devil.
Amen to the hypocrisy of "Christians" Lonnie. If humans that profess to be Christian actually studied and then practiced the "teachings of Jesus" we wouldn't have societal problems.
No one lays it out like you man.
I missed the whole Brit thing. Always cool to see some evangelical robot stick their foot in their mouth.
Okay -- I've seen it.

Lonnie, you were very kind in this post.
I hope you put this in a email and sent it to Hume, he desperately needs to see it
well put, Lonnie, and I think the most thoughtful response to this whole brouhaha that I've yet encountered
"The ultimate difference as it's manifested in the modern world lies in the desire of so-called adherents of the teachings of Jesus Christ for temporal and political power."

You nailed that one! Great post.
Britt has proven he knows nothing about Christianity, let alone Buddhism. He's the kinda guy who gives religion a bad name.
Excellent post! Thank you thank you. And Robin - a Jewbu - fabulous.
I hope you sent this to him. rated.
nice work. but don't expect hume to get "enlightenment" any time soon, if ever.:)
Like he'd understand THIS! :)

(Oh yeah, that's not the point)

It's way too good. And because of that raised 2 thoughts.

1. The disconnect between Christian values and practices. I am GUESSING the practices and not the values is where you distance yourself? I don't think there is a general understanding that they can be two different things. A Buddhist would say they are not two different things.

2. The use of Christianity for political power. I used to think that was the main issue. But after reading Jeff Sharlet's book (I think it's called "The Brotherhood: not sure) I think the use of Christianity for economic power is worse. Am not sure. . . .
Beautifully expressed, kind sir!
And this is not on the cover why exactly? Wading into the deep end or not, you always manage to do it with intelligence, sensitivity and aplomb. Excellent post, Lonnie. Really excellent.
Truly amazing writing, Lonnie! No One could have said it better.
Great post, rated.
I rather kind of love you for this post, Mr. Lazar. :-)
Thoroughly impressive post. I saw the open call and cringed--how would one even begin to tackle that? I did not know that Buddhism is not a religion, and so thank you for perhaps saving me from looking like a real jackass at some point in the future.