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Why Brit Hume Is Making Christianity Look Stoopid

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Poor Tiger Woods. First your philandering gets galactic coverage -- did you see the New York Post's virtual calendar of Tiger's den-mates? (now that's classy!) -- and, now, Fox anchor Brit Hume is giving you spiritual (mis)direction.

Much hay has been made of Hume's attempts at Christian evangelism, and Buddhists of my acquaintance have respectfully disagreed with Hume's appraisal of the forgiveness their path offers, but as a Catholic (and therefore Christian), I am utterly appalled at Hume's bizarro approach to sin and forgiveness. No wonder so many people think we're all goofy.

Sin is not some accumulating supernatural goop clinging to a soul that you need "forgiveness" to scrub off Electrosol-style (although plenty of Christians think it is). It is first and foremost about damage done to relationships, divine and human -- something Tiger's case illustrates with painful accuracy. As for forgiveness, well, it is both easy and hard.

Jon Stewart's Daily Show spoof on Tiger converting brought up the Catholic practice of Confession, hilariously missing the point. Sure, we Catholics can confess our sins to a priest (making sure to pick a good one), and we believe it brings about a restored relationship with God (along with the relief of getting it off your chest). That's the easy part, God being well aware of the disastrous choices we are capable of.

But the part everyone forgets is the penance: God forgives, but we still have to go about the work of repairing the human damage left by our misdeeds, and it takes more than a couple of Hail Marys. It requires at least an attempt at amends, and quite frankly it doesn't always pan out. (I swear we invented purgatory as a fallback to cover the damage we just didn't have enough earthly time to undo.)

I imagine Tiger will be OK with Ultimate Reality whether he approaches it as a Buddhist or a Christian or chooses another path entirely. But he's got his work cut out for him on the human front, and converting to Christianity won't provide the magical, mystical forgiveness dust Hume seems to think it will, at least not where it matters.