Tiger Woods and another media-driven quest for generic public and personal redemption

Please pause, for a moment, from reading the torrent of tweets in your news "covfefe" feed. I would like you to flash back to one of the more interesting -- poignant even -- angles of the first great Tiger Woods private life crisis (1.0).

Forget the endless tabloid covers about his apparent addictions to adultery with busty blondes (we are not talking about the stunningly beautiful mother of his children). Forget the double-talk on covertly recorded cellphones.

This is GetReligion. We are talking about a fascinating and valid religion angle, one linked to Wood's unique multi-racial and multicultural background. Here is a glimpse of that, care of a 2010 Tiger crisis feature in The Christian Science Monitor. The overture said:

LONDON -- Much has been made of the fact that, in his mea culpa beamed around the world, Tiger Woods said he had rediscovered his childhood religion of Buddhism and hoped to relearn its lessons of restraint. This was Tiger’s “leap of faith,” said Newsweek, his very public religious conversion.
It is true that we witnessed the conversion of Tiger Woods last Friday, but it was no voluntary conversion to an old religion. Rather, this was a forced conversion to the new Oprahite religion of emotional openness and making public one’s miseries and failings.

Note that, even with Woods make explicit comments about how he drifted away from the practice of Buddhism, journalists already were picking up on the fact that something else was going on. In terms of a public-relations campaign to "redeem" -- "resurrect" was another popular word) his career -- it was clear that Woods needed to perform some kind of pop-culture penance to show he was starting over.

It was a rare appearance of a kind of Oprah-fied born-again Buddhism. The stories never probed the depths of what that might look like in terms of daily life.

Now we have Tiger Woods crisis 2.0, with that horrible DUI mug shot and, I am sure, embarrassing video clips to come.

What has happened to the religion angle?

So far, I am not seeing references to whether Woods has once again veered away from practicing his Buddhist faith.

However, a new piece at The New York Times demonstrates -- over and over -- how hard it is to talk about this kind of subject without using some kind of redemptive language that hints at religion or some secular substitute. The headline: "After Tiger Woods Stumbles, Solid Ground Beckons."

Of course, if one stumbles he or she might even FALL, which is a religious term in this context. It implies some kind of moral order, some kind of "up" and then a "down."

The Times piece references the Tiger 1.0 crisis, noting:

Woods was cited with careless driving and fined $164, although the real cost was infinitely greater: the destruction of his squeaky-clean public image and the dissolution of his marriage after the crash led to revelations of Woods’s extramarital affairs.
Eight years later, the mug shot, combined with the picture painted of Woods in the police report -- sluggish, sleepy, staggering and struggling to stand on one leg or touch his finger to his nose -- was too messy for any would-be enablers to swoop in and clean up or contain. And thank goodness for that, because what happened to Woods on Monday was a moment of clarity for those hoping and praying for Woods’s speedy return to competitive golf, for the people in his inner circle preoccupied with the performer over the person, and, most of all, for Woods himself.

The key question here: How can Woods be honest about the state of his life and find what the story calls "his deliverance"? This summary statement notes the big picture behind the details of the DUI:

The statement that Woods released Monday, while contrite, came up a few assertions short of accountability.
“What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications,” Woods said in the statement. “I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”
What he left unexplained was how he came to take multiple medications when the warnings about mixing prescription drugs are clearly marked on the bottle labels -- and presumably had been elucidated by his prescription-pad-bearing physician. He also did not say how he came to be driving while medicated in the first place. If Woods can answer those questions, if only to himself, he is well on the way to setting himself free.
No prescription drug exists to relieve the pain of being a human being trapped in a marble monument that the public continues to flock to and worship, and one that major corporations continue to burnish.

Stay tuned. Perhaps this angle of the story cannot be written -- accurately and fairly -- until Woods addresses it himself.

That's a statement in an of itself. Reporters can probe drugs, health, sexual affairs, the decline of a superstar's skills, etc., but there is no way to follow-up on the state of Woods and his faith without him discussing it. After all, religion is totally private. In this case, is that true?

Please respect our Commenting Policy