I like Tim Tebow.
Never met the Denver Bronco's quarterback, but when I've seen him interviewed on TV (Jon Stewart talked with him on The Daily Show fairly recently) Tebow comes across as humble and unassuming.
But that's when he isn't "Tebowing," an irritating in-your-face display of his Christianity, where Tebow gets down on one knee, with his elbow resting on his other knee, head bowed in a prayerful stance. This has become a craze, with a web site devoted to Tebowing (including a Top Ten, naturally; the dog doing a modified version of the posture was the only photo that appealed to me).
So I don't like Tim Tebow's overt religiosity.
It would be obnoxious to me anywhere. Displays of God-praise on the athletic field strike me as particularly inappropriate. Seven years ago I pleaded, "Please, God, no more sky-pointing."
The worst example I saw featured an individual sky-pointing as a Red Sox “idiot” (in this case, a term richly deserved) rounded the bases after a home run, followed by a communal sky-pointing after he reached the dugout. He and a few other Christian teammates crouched, bent their heads together, and then pointed a bunch of index fingers at, presumably, where they think heaven lies.
I never saw God similarly thanked after a Red Sox player struck out or made an error. The idea that God is aiding the fortunes of one team, and not the other, is obviously ridiculous. Given that, in the big scheme of things, major league sports also is ridiculous, this sky-pointing business wouldn’t be a big deal for me except…it reflects an overall attitude among a disturbingly large number of Christians that God plays favorites.
George Bush clearly feels that God has chosen him to bring freedom to the Middle East, and that the United States has a special God-given mission in the world. This is no different in kind from a baseball player believing that God wanted and enabled him to hit a baseball out of the park, or to strike out an opposing player. Yet if God has the power to bring things that people consider “good,” then God also has the power to bring “bad” things.
A few weeks ago I was walking by a bigscreen TV in our athletic club just as TIm Tebow fumbled and the other team recovered the football. I watched for a bit longer to see whether Tebow made any overt praise of God at that moment.
Nope. Apparently God is only worth praising when good things happen, mistakes aren't made, hopes come true. Which is horrible theology.
Don't Tim Tebow and his Tebowing buddies realize how egotistical their Christian faith is? It's all about them. Life revolves around them. If what they wanted to have happen actually does, then God picked them to be winners of the good fortune lottery.
This sounds nastily divisive. That's because it is.
When an athlete thanks God for catching a touchdown pass, or hitting a home run, he believes that the highest divinity wanted him to triumph over those bozos on the other team. "God plays favorites, and I'm the Favored One!"
Such is, of course, exactly how Christianity looks upon non-believers. So I guess it isn't surprising that Tebowers are so egotistically judgmental, because that's the core attribute of their entire religion. Thus saith Tim Tebow:
Tebow once told a group of prisoners: “If you have Jesus Christ in your heart, you are going to spend eternity in heaven. If you don’t, you’re going to spend eternity in hell.”
I don't watch much pro football. So my viewing of Tim Tebow's quarterbacking mostly comes from highlights shown on the evening news sports segment. Recently Tebow was shown throwing some interceptions that lost an important game (though the Broncos still backed into the playoffs).
As noted above, I turned to my wife and said, "I'd feel a lot better about Tim Tebow if he pointed to the sky or knelt down in thankful prayer every time something really bad happens to him on the football field, rather than him doing his Tebowing only when God supposedly gives him what he wants."
Even better, though, would be for Tebow to just act like a normal human being. Do your best. Accept what happens, win or lose, with as much balance, grace, and equanimity as possible. Get mad when you feel angry. Then get over it. Be happy when you feel good. Then get over it.
Making a cosmic happening out of a freaking football play is absurd. I'll quote myself again:
In one of his sermons Meister Eckhart put it nicely: “Now I hear you ask, ‘How do I know that it is God’s will? My answer is that if it were not God’s will even for a moment, then it would not exist. Whatever is must be his will. If God’s will is pleasing to you, then whatever happens to you, or does not happen to you, will be heaven.”
Last night I found Johnny Damon’s first inning home run to be the epitome of genuine athletic good character. The long-haired Damon didn’t raise a finger, or even display much emotion. He simply ran around the bases with his head down. When he got to the dugout he exchanged a few hugs and high-fives with his teammates, but he looked like a calm, centered man who knew that all he had done was hit a first-inning home run in a baseball game that was a long way from being decided. And it is a game for God’s sake, not the Second Coming.
Thank you, Johnny, for acting like a real Christian, whether or not you are one. I hope your attitude rubs off on your ebullient sky-pointing brethren.