A Prudent Pundit

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”

That was our Lord, via the Apostle Matthew (11:28-29). But you could hear this message echoing recently in the unlikeliest of places: Sunday-morning television.

It came as a shock to many people, because it was spoken not by a televangelist, but by a regular on a Sunday news show. On FOX News Sunday, during a panel discussion capping the year that was, Brit Hume, former White House reporter for ABC and longtime Fox News anchor and commentator, was asked to comment on Tiger Woods’s serial and now public unfaithfulness to his wife.

What Hume dared to say was what you say when you look at the man in the news as a human being. Addressing the golf star’s future, Hume said: “Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it’s a tragic situation with him. I think he’s lost his family. It’s not clear to me that – whether he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children.

“But,” he continued, “the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal – the extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

Shocked, of course, are a whole host of jaded or ideologically committed voices. The host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann announced that what Hume said “crosses that principle [of keeping] religious advocacy out of public life, since, you know, the worst examples of that are jihadists, not to mention, you know, guys who don’t know their own religions or somebody else’s religion, like Brit Hume.”

Brit Hume and the jihadists. I wish I could tell you no one takes this stuff seriously, but you know better than that. Mainstream reporters and the president of the United States have appeared on the show. But one has come to expect this of media ideologues. The more disturbing reality of life in our fallen world is: It’s not just those who spend their days immersed in ideology and ratings who reacted this way. In the more than a week since the incident occurred, I’ve heard non-pundit, faithful, church-going people buy into the conventional view: Hume said something wrong.

But Hume did nothing of the sort. What he did was approach cultural commentary as a child of God. Punditry requires prudence, but if we do believe what we say we do as Christians, if we take it seriously, we are going to look a little unsophisticated now and again to the MSNBC crowd.

One doesn’t have to look far to be reminded of this, and to be urged to do exactly what Hume did – to present the offer we all have as a fact. What he did was introduce into the discussion an age-old, historic solution in which many have found solace: the redemptive power of the Cross.

If you believe this, why not offer it at a prudent moment on a Sunday-morning talk show? The invitation has more authority and guarantee behind it than any political analysis, or any guess about Tiger Woods’s future.

At some point Brit Hume has likely come upon the passage, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” It appears he may have internalized it. And so, really, that’s the only worthwhile advice he had to offer Tiger Woods.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Hume said, “I was kind of hoping that in some way word of it might reach Tiger. I was hoping that people who were of faith might receive some encouragement from the message. You never know. I also thought it was interesting. I didn’t really sit down and make some kind of calculations on a sheet of lined paper about what were going to be the consequences. We were expressing our views and those were my views on that point.”

Watching the conventional wisdom that he did something wrong seep into the chattering class’s record, I picture St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill, which has exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on weekday evenings, a stone’s throw away from House office buildings. We chat and rally and fight. But in the end, it’s only His Word that will set things straight. This is the reality Brit Hume could not distance himself from on Sunday morning.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a nationally syndicated columnist. She can be e-mailed at [email protected]