In Mild, Half-Assed Defense Of Tim Tebow
It's Tebow Time. For this blog, that is.
Since Tim Tebow and his in-your-face style of Christianity holy-rolled their way into the national spotlight, he's been been a lightning rod for both great praise and great criticism.
I certainly don't get the "praise" part. Frankly, Tebow just isn't all that as a quarterback. Sure, he's had some great last-quarter saves, and he fared particularly well against quarterback/douchebag Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers, but let's face it: He's nowhere near the same class as someone like Tom Brady or Drew Brees. If and when Brady and his New England Patriots beat Tebow and his Broncos this weekend, it may be a shock to the system of Tebow's more evangelical followers, but it'll be about as traumatic and faith-shattering to me as the sun rising in the morning.
As far as Tebow's style of expressing his faith is concerned, I understand all the complaints and even agree with many of them. First and foremost among them are two points touched upon here by Bill Press.
Here's the first point Press makes:
Jesus said a lot of strong things. But one of the strongest things he ever said was: When you pray, don’t be like those hypocrites who like to stand on a street corner and pray, so everybody can see them.
Somebody ought to tell that to Tim Tebow.
Fair point. He follows that up with an even fairer one:
Now, if you’re one of the silly millions of Americans who loves Tebow’s in-your-face kind of Christianity, consider this. What if he were a devout Muslim, who bowed to Mecca after every touchdown and shouted “Allahu Akbar?”
Somehow, I don’t think we’d be celebrating him as a national hero.
Both of Press's points are right on the mark. While I'm a practicing Christian, all that evangelizing just isn't my thing. That "hypocrites" quote is one of Jesus' signature lines. I've heard that one so often at my church services I've all but memorized it. And I agree wholeheartedly with it. And I've already ranted recently about the double-standards Muslim-Americans face when expressing and practicing their faith, or even existing, for that matter. If Tebow did frequently praise Allah and Mohammed in lieu of God and Jesus, or if he put Quran passage numbers on his face instead of ones from the Bible, would these same evangelical supporters still idolize him...or run him out of town on a rail?
Also, attributing his success to divine intervention because of his faith is troublesome on many levels. It ignores the contributions of the other Broncos, for starters. It also ignores players on the other side of the scrimmage line who may be just as devout. Worst of all, it reduces God (or Allah, or whomever) to an entity petty enough to exert undue influence over sports outcomes. It was bad enough when they revealed the Cigarette-Smoking Man doing that on "X-Files"!
And one final complaint: It's not "Tebowing". It's GENUFLECTING, dammit!
But while I can't get behind all the mountains of praise his supporters throw his way, I can't generate too much emnity toward him, either.
For starters, if you're looking at sports figures to idolize and emulate, you could do much, MUCH worse than Tebow. Like Roethlisberger. Or Joe "Mr. Follow-Through" Paterno. Or Sam Hurd.
Also, it's true that all the in-your-face evangelizing, both from Tebow and his rabid fanbase, gets downright annoying. On the other hand, the "religion has done nothing but harm and if you follow any organized religion, you're a complete fucking moron" talk espoused by the likes of Bill Maher, the late Christopher Hitchens, and many commenters on the internet? Just as annoying. And no, I'm not being some thin-skinned Christian who can't take any criticism of his faith -- one of my favorite comedians is John Fugelsang, who levels criticism at it all the time. Frankly, it NEEDS some criticism sometimes. It's just that Fugelsang, unlike Maher, doesn't stoop to condescension and sometimes even outright bigotry when doing so. Maher's also one of my favorite comedians-- except when he talks religion.
It's also important not to fall prey to the temptation to lay all frustration with the collective sins of evangelical Christianity, Christianity in general, and even religion in general on Tebow's doorstep. Even the rampant "Tebow-Mania" is primarily a product of the media and his rabid legion of fans, not Tebow himself. And let's just say that Christianity doesn't always put its best foot forward. Have you seen the GOP presidential field? It's filled with so-called Christians like Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum (Google him!) who profess their love of Jesus but somehow manage to completely ignore "whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me", which was ANOTHER of Jesus' signature phrases. Let's face it: Too many people in the world use their religious beliefs as carte blanche to mistreat their fellow human beings, especially women and members of the LGBT community. But it's not fair to lay that all on Tebow. He's just an NFL quarterback, and an average one at that.
Whether you're a Tebow supporter or a detractor, the best advice I can suggest is to look past your pro- or anti- religious beliefs and biases and just see Tebow for what he is:
A second-rate Bobby Douglass.