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Beyond Buddhism, Tiger Woods has converted to another religion

Tiger Woods’s confession on Friday was a forced conversion to the Oprahite religion of emotional openness and making public one’s miseries and failings.

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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.

Mr. Woods has effectively been strong-armed by the world’s media and experts into ditching his former, apparently outdated commitment to the ideals of privacy, and has been made to embrace the cult of letting it all hang out. What we witnessed on our TV screens was the end result of a global show trial, complete with the “suspect” denouncing himself and expressing self-disgust, and I for one found it unedifying.

Woods’s public apology – to his wife, his fans, and the media – came at the end of months of pressure on him to stop fantasizing that he has any right to a private life and to tell us everything about that car crash in November and his various alleged affairs. His desire to keep his troubles private, including by taking refuge on his yacht called “Privacy,” was treated as some kind of crime.

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