Former Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, has been trying to rehabilitate his political career after a personal scandal that seemed to end it only a few years ago. In his recent bid to reclaim his old congressional seat, he has been talking about the Christian theme of redemption and second chances. In an article with Yahoo News, he also explains his regular practice of Buddhist meditation. Here’s a brief excerpt from the interview:
Sanford told me that his interest in Buddhism stretched back three years, when he retreated to his remote family farm after the scandalous end to his term as governor when he secretly left the country to have an affair with an Argentine woman who he now plans to marry.
While in exile, Sanford began studying meditation, a practice he continues to this day.
“A buddy of mine said, Mark, you’re becoming a Buddhist Christian. I come from the Christian faith. That’s my faith tradition. But what I do like about Buddhism is the idea of being present,” Sanford said during the car ride. “I think that that’s missed in Western culture, where we’re so busy looking a week out, two weeks out, a month out, a year out and we’re hurried and we’re busy. And I think if there’s any one thing I learned from that year I spent on the farm in the wake of getting out of office and just having a very, very quiet year, is the importance of stillness and quietness. And that extends beyond just the physical location. It extends really into the moment of, Are you really with that person or are you thinking of the next thing you’ve got to do? So I do like very much that part of Buddhism. I think it’s right.”
Sanford declined to describe his meditation techniques, but said, “I’ve tried to be disciplined about a quiet time each day.”
Everyone should be skeptical of redemption without repentance, and that is why I am not buying Sanford’s “contrition.” It would appear that Sanford has invoked Christianity to paper over his misdeeds in a bid to revive his political fortunes. In my view, his appeals have had the ring of opportunism and exploitation. His syncretism of Buddhism and Christianity only reinforces that impression. (HT: Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
UPDATE: In February, Albert Mohler commented on Sanford’s reentry into public life. I agree with every bit of this. The relevant portion begins at about 13:00. Listen below or download here.[audio:http://albertmohler.com/media/audio/totl/Podcast/20130222_TheBriefing.mp3]