Monday, January 04, 2010

Pandagon Watch: They Don't Get Christianity

Thanks to Chuck Serio for the latest Pandagon tip.

Pam Spaulding displays her ignorance of Christianity in this post, discussing Brit Hume's statement that Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity in order to receive true redemption. Hume's statement:

Buddhism is inferior to Christianity when it comes to forgiveness of sins, according to Fox News pundit Brit Hume. Tiger Woods should turn his back on Buddhism and become a Christian to be forgiven for cheating on his wife, Hume told Fox News Chris Wallace Sunday.

The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith, said Hume. He is said to be a Buddhist. I dont think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.

Spaulding's response:
How does this prescription for redemption explain Ted Haggard, Mark Sanford, John Ensign and all of the rest of the Christian GOP sexual hypocrites?

I always have to remind myself that Pandagonistas are willfully ignorant about the basic tenets of Christianity, including redemption. The commenters continue the ignorance:
--"Buddhism, at least the Mahayana sects, typically emphasize making up for your sins after you sin, to correct your personal karma and avoid reincarnation as a hungry ghost, or somebody’s dairy cow."

--"Gotta love that “get out of jail free” card. It just takes timing. Don’t yell, “God damn it!” if you’re about to get hit by the bus—eternal damnation for that. But you can eat a boiled baby every day, and so long as you have the good sense to die of something lingering, like cancer, you can pray your sins away, and get into heaven.

So if I’m Woods, I keep sleeping with every man and woman alive, until the syphilis gets bad enough, and then convert.

Unfortunately, it will turn out that the Greeks were right after all. Alas!"

--"So, basically, if you’re a Christian all you have to do is apologize to God and you’re off the hook? Sounds like a great racket to me. Unfortunately, as a Buddhist, I have to acknowledge my mistakes and deal with the consequences. It’s a little rougher, but considerably more adult, IMHO.
(BTW: I’m talking not about the Christian tradition in its entirety, but the mind-numbingly simplistic take on it these folx seem to have...)"

Christian redemption isn't the idea that you can do whatever you want, ask for forgiveness, then go out and do it some more. It's the idea that, as humans, we are sinful by nature, whether we cheat on our wives, curse out the guy that cuts us off in traffic, or envy someone else's garden furniture. And because we are sinful, we needed Christ to die for our sins so that we could have fellowship with God. IOW, unlike Buddhism, which relies on the idea (as one person put it) of recognizing your grievances, correcting them and "living with the consequences," Christianity shows that we personally cannot save ourselves and must rely on Christ's sinless life, death and resurrection for salvation.

It's somewhat more humbling.

None of this, of course, negates the effects here on earth of our sins. Christians still "live with the consequences" of our actions, regardless of whether God has forgiven us or not. After all, we still have to live with and deal with those we've wronged, even if God forgives us.

One commenter stated, "What would make an impression would be if Christians could be statistically demonstrated to behave better as a group than non-Christians.

So, Christians, feel free to conduct population studies that show Christians are less likely to receive speeding tickets, have their taxes audited, get divorced, wind up on child-abuse lists, &c;. It should be relatively easy to provide clear documentation of a behavioral effect...or of its lack."

But, in fact, Christians are happier (or at least, profess happiness) than other groups and those who attend church regularly are less likely to get divorced than those who rarely go to church or those who never attend. We also have evidence that Christians are more generous with their own money and time (especially conservative Christians), and less likely to participate in anti-social behavior.

This doesn't mean you won't find Ted Haggards, Mark Sanfords or John Ensigns among Christians. It just makes it more rare. And more newsworthy when it happens.

UPDATE: Ann Coulter has a nice column on this subject.