Over the New Year’s holiday, we had a movie marathon, watching three movies back-to-back on the new Blu-ray player that we gave ourselves for Christmas. We watched not just the movies but all the extras on the disc, including the deleted scenes, directors’ comments, interviews with the actors, and even the trailers. It is fascinating to see the meticulous work and creativity that goes into telling a story in an unforgettable manner.
In fact, we enjoy the accounts of how the movies were made as much as the movies themselves. The actors clearly loved talking about the complexity of the characters they were depicting, and the directors loved talking about the layers of meaning in the story they wanted to tell. The final proof of the directors’ skill, however, was nowhere more evident than in the scenes they decided to cut out. Viewing these deleted scenes, I sometimes agreed with the directors’ judgment that the scene didn’t really advance the story line, but in other instances, it was only when I saw what had ended up on the “cutting room floor” that I came to a full understanding of the story.
During the holidays, several real life stories were playing out in the news, and none more compelling than the Tiger Woods drama. The nation was stunned at the rapid and total disintegration of Tiger’s public image. Later, it became apparent that his entire life — marriage, family, career — were, perhaps, irreparably damaged. On “Fox News Sunday,” January 3, veteran newsman Brit Hume talked about Tiger Woods’ situation and said that only a relationship with Jesus Christ offers true healing and forgiveness. Most Americans understand the ramifications of such a public fall from grace and the personal destruction and fallout that inevitably follows — we’ve seen it in the Scriptures, and we’ve witnessed it before among those we know. That is what made the startling commentary by Brit Hume so authentic, timely, and poignant.
“Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think, is a very open question … 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.’”
In our modern culture, Mr. Hume has been widely criticized by those who embrace the near-religion of diversity and non- judgmentalism. Undeterred, Hume, in a subsequent interview with Bill O’Reilly, elaborated with the following:
I mean, look, Tiger Woods is somebody I’ve always rooted for as a golfer and as a man. I greatly admired him over the years, and I always have said to people it was the content of his character that made him, beyond his extraordinary golf skills, so admirable. ... Now we know that the content of his character was not what we thought it was.
Hume could not have been more correct in his assertion that Tiger is in need of a faith that offers forgiveness and redemption. If there is any error in Hume’s observations, it would be his failure to find a succinct way of stating the fact that every soul is a battleground, that human nature is complex with a flawed mixture of good and evil, and that we all stand in need of redemption.
A friend recently sent a note with a story of a Native American grandfather talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The grandson asked him “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.” All analogies fail at some point — even one as beautiful as this — and this one doesn’t do justice to the fact that the evil with which we contend within ourselves is not under our control. In fact, it has much in common with a brain tumor and needs the skilled excision of the Master Surgeon.
When the Tiger Woods story is complete — thus far, he has been the sole producer, writer, director, and star — the ending will depend upon whether he continues on his destructive path as his own producer/writer/director or hands it all over to the Author of Life. Like so many of us flawed human beings, he has fed only one part of his nature. His decisions at this crisis point of his life will determine the story’s ending. His life’s story can be a tragedy or, as Hume said, it can be an inspirational miracle of transformation like that of modern day prodigal son Charles Colson, one of repentance, forgiveness and redemption. Faith, what Tiger ultimately believes about God’s offer of transformation through Jesus Christ, will determine which scenes make it into the final cut of his life’s story.