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Tuesday, November 29. 2011
I'm not a big fan of religious exhibitions in public venues. I'm not opposed to them, I'm not critical of seeing a prayer circle after a game, or a player thanking God for divine intervention. That's what the player wants to believe? Fine. My issue is really one that relates to this - if God is helping the winning team, then what's He doing for the losing team? Are they just not strong enough believers? Did they not say the right prayers or did they not make the correct sacrifices? It's not really a strong argument to say "God allowed/helped me to win" because it presumes God didn't allow or help those on the losing side.
God gives each of us abilities, and how we use them is what determines how well we do at sports, work, home life, etc. Beyond that, God doesn't intervene much, in my view. If I start using drugs and begin to play poorly on the field, did "God allow/help me to use drugs"? I don't think so.
It's a sword that cuts both ways, and in the end it's a personal decision relating to how you choose to use your God-given talents that determines whether you're a winner or loser. When you're playing for the championship against another believer, then it comes down to your mental toughness. Another God-given talent, one which can be developed and improved (just as any God-given talent can).
However, Tim Tebow is an interesting character because I believe he recognizes the role of faith in his life. I haven't ever felt slighted by anything he's said or done on the field, even if I don't believe in a religion as fervently as he does. I like the fact he's a winner, and I like the fact that he holds himself accountable regardless of how much credit he gives the Lord for his skill set. Sure, he prays for a missed field goal, but when I'm rooting my team on, so do I. I'm aware that's not how it works. I take the view this is a natural human reaction rather than a well thought out religious one. So I don't read much into it.
I like that he wins despite what others have said about him. He has unusual throwing mechanics, can't win in the NFL, isn't a leader, etc. It's all been said, and most of it is just a backlash to his religion and his anti-abortion commercial in the Super Bowl. That commercial was legitimate, though. His mother received the suggestion to abort a fetus which was believed to be at high risk. Yet here was a Heisman Trophy winning NFL Quarterback. If anyone has the right to make that commercial, it's him.
I like that he approaches his job as a challenge. He knows others are hoping he fails, others are certain he's going to fail. But he trots out there and finds a way to win, even if it's ugly.
In the end, though, Tim does have to grow up about his religion. Who better to discuss this than Kurt Warner. A former grocery store clerk, called up to fill in for injured quarterbacks, manages to win a Super Bowl and set several records along the way. Then as his prime years are believed to have passed him by, he gets traded from team to team until he takes the lowly Arizona Cardinals to their first Super Bowl. He lost there, but not for lack of trying. Kurt Warner, another winner, and another man of faith. One of the more outspoken men regarding faith and sports.
I hope Tebow keeps winning because I like his style and I like his approach to the game. I don't care how he feels about religion, though I do like that each time he wins, the people who hate religion (and they do exist) get irked even more. I don't like the Broncos at all. I just like Tebow. He's a great story, even if I don't share his views. But Kurt Warner is right, and Tim will find that being just a little less effusive about religion will actually help him be a better messenger.
I'd much rather root for a Tebow than a Ray Lewis (allegations relating to murder), Michael Vick (dog fighting), or any other 'winners' who have tarnished reputations. I can respect players who go through rehabilitation, and I do believe people deserve a second chance. But why are people opposed to a Tim Tebow simply because he has faith? Isn't that better than using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs? Shouldn't we be pleased with people like him, rather than making him out to be the bad guy? We don't have to share his faith, we just have to be happy that he is managing to do what he does in a very clean and wholesome fashion.
Tracked: Dec 06, 07:56
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Well done, Bull.
Remember that there are stages of faith, and some go through phases in which they feel called to show publicly how they feel. Public assertions of faith are powerful, even if sometimes silly. Believers are invited to be "Fools for Christ:" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foolishness_for_Christ
Heck, somebody told me today that at the Lynchburg VA the check-out ladies always say "Jesus loves you" when you leave.
I'd enjoy that. Around here, if they even bother acknowledging you, they say "Have a nice day," and I always want to say "Don't tell me what kind of day to have."
Tebow's fine with me.
I'm with Lincoln. Don't pray that God is on our side. Pray that we are on God's side.
Pray that you are using the gifts that you have been given (gifts that you may not know you have), in ways that are just and right. If Tebow did this, he would honor his opponents as his friends, just like his teammates.
I honestly don't care about Tebow's, or any other athlete's for that matter, faith or belief system.
Just play the damn games.
However I will make an exception for Tebow - I'm loving the whole unorthodox thing with him - it's a blast to watch.
He's a winner.
That counts for something with most people.
I think he's fun to watch, too. Here's a guy who can complete 4 of 8 attempts, but one of those attempts is an 50 yard TD.
Then he can rip off a 20 yard QB Draw.
What's not to like?
Part of why some don't like him is because they see they don't measure up to him. Some have other reasons.
I confess to liking the reaction to Tebow as much as I do him. My father is 76 and a life long Bama Crimson Tide fan who loves Tebow. It is the "way he plays the game" that wins most over. That he wins also is lagniappe!
Funny thing is I am a hypocrite about this. I hated when Chris Jackson became Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf(NBA) and started to proclaim Islam or Cat Stevens traded in Peace train for Jihad. I believe it is a sort of guy rule to let sports/entertainment be a refuge from stuff we can't fix. It is why we hate politicos horning into our neutral field of dreams. So I think Tebow is breaking the unwritten rule but I am good with it. But should I be?
I confess to liking Sarah Palin for the same reason. That being she causes the swells to expose their venom. The people who think by birth or college admission they have attained membership into the aristocracy of the "betters." They are appalled when the folks reject their superior insights. Like the racist south hated segregation the elite hate unapologetic Christians and conservatives.
So if I must choose between Tebow or the secular pontiffs, I choose hypocrisy.
Until fairly recently I didn't even know who Tebow was, as I haven't been following the NFL in recent years. Then I read about how he keeps winning games but otherwise looks like a 2nd or 3rd rate player, at least to many, and at least in terms of orthodox execution; and that fans have divided into love/loathe camps.
Then on Sunday I was in a bar while his last game was on - and this is in Atlanta!! - and saw two guys get into a loud, heated (though not violent or nasty) public argument about the guy.
No one would be talking or writing about Tim Tebow's kneeling in prayer after he scores a TD if the NFL had the good sense to ban all such demonstrations of ALL varieties by ALL the players. On one level or anther, I find them all to be seriously offensive, a childish demand for personal attention on the part of grown men who are earning tens of millions of dollars each year. Let's face it, this attention-seeking behavior is a big part of black culture. It is something I'll never understand.
Hopefully you know that Tim Tebow isn't black.
However with respect to the attention getting thing, it's not that really. Ok, with some of them, the Randy Moss/Ocho Cinco types it is, but most it is just a repetition/copy cat thing that goes back a few years to when the first Samoan football players started showing up.
Samoan athletes are not shy about chest pounding macho displays prior to, during and after games or making plays on opposing teams either individually or as a group. A lot of these displays are based on the Polynesian War Dances and accompanied by Māori War Chants. Black athletes picked up on that very quickly (as did white players I might add only a little more slowly) as it was similar to their perception of what the African bush warrior (Zulu, Maasai, Xhosas, etc.) warrior culture was only more individualized.
In a very general sense, I agree with the view "act like you've been there before". I've played plenty of sports, and the only time I'd ever let loose with any kind of celebratory behavior was at the end of a game or match. A good play is just a good play - why celebrate?
But banning all celebrations would, unfortunately, alienate the fan base to a large degree. While I'm not fond of them, there is a reason many people call the NFL the "No Fun League" because of the minimal restrictions they put on celebrations.
So, while I agree that celebrations are excessive, I'd have to say it's up to the coach to monitor and manage. If I were a coach, I'd simply say "if you celebrate in any fashion, you'll sit out the next few plays, even if it hurts us. Act like a professional. That's what you're paid to do."
Geez, when I make a big sale, I don't walk out onto the street and do a tomahawk chop or a celebratory dance.
They hate him because he's everything they're not, and then some.
This discussion reminds me of the wording on the German WWI era belt buckle - Gott Mit Uns
God is not a fan of any particular team, but He does direct the outcome of every game (and every other event in this world) to accomplish His plan.
Our choice is to decide whether the events of this life are part of the path leading us to Him or part of the path leading away.
My own view on God's intervention in sports would be that God might intervene to keep players safe from injury and keep them inspired to play with spirit and fairness. I doubt that God directs the outcomes of games; that would be contrary to free will and justice.
Only the superficially devout armchair faithful are praying that G-d is on their side. The sincere, as I expect Tebow is, are praying in gratitude.
It’s a common refrain that we never see the opposite of a touchdown prayer, a player with fists raised to the sky blaming G-d for the loss. That demonstrates a superficial or grade-school understanding of faith. G-d gives us gifts. That we use them well is our responsibility.
While the spirit of what you said is true, the fact is quite different. I believe Tebow is truly spiritual, but he did pray to see his opponents miss a field goal, in all likelyhood. I have seen many other truly spiritual players do the same thing.
I don't have a problem with this. Sure, it's superficial, but it's human. And in being human, that's what makes us need the spiritual all the more. I can't expect even the most spiritual person to be perfect.
I looked up Ray Lewis a few weeks back, because I had only that common impression that he got away with murder. The facts are not so clear. And in the years since, he appears to have become a man of strong faith.
If your god allows forgiveness, it might be worth taking a second look at Lewis.
If you read me correctly, you'd understand what I wrote makes room for forgiveness. I don't have a problem with that. Vick plays for my team, the Eagles, and while I have difficulty rooting for HIM, I do recognize that he is working hard to right a wrong.
Similarly, I'd say Ray Lewis falls in that category. I know the facts are far from clear with him (as opposed to Vick), but there are still questions and I'm not totally convinced he wasn't involved in some way.
My point, however, isn't about Vick or Lewis. I mention them because their situations stand out. My point in mentioning them is that, even before their troubles, they were lauded and given much press and treated as superstars based on talent (deserved) but not behavior. Vick is probably equally famous for his "Ron Mexico" story (look that up).
In other words, we're quick to call questionable characters "stars" and give them accolades, but we have a media that is also very quick to belittle Tebow or Warner because they behave well and are people of faith.
Look, I'm not a Bible thumper. Never was, probably never will be. I have my faith, such as it is. You don't do 12 years of Catholic school without learning something of value in the faith department.
But I won't take potshots at athletes who show their faith. At least they are good role models. And while I don't believe in the "athletes as role models" parenting technique, plenty of people do fall for it. So it helps to have Tebows and Warners in the world, and I'm happier to say to my kids "look at them" than to say "look at Vick or Lewis". I'll use Vick and Lewis when I'm teaching them about forgiveness. But that isn't what my post was about.
My view is that the "overtly" Christian atheletes, kneeling in the end zone after they score, is a MUCH better display than some of the "Samoan/Maori"-based "war dances" that I have seen, especially as these atheletes are role models for the young folks watching these games, whether we like it or not, and whether the atheletes realize it or not.
It seems to me that the Christians who kneel for a brief prayer do not disrupt the flow of the game, and they are not indulging in inappropriate displays. Although I can't, and don't wish to know, exactly what they are thinking, their humility is in striking contrast. I've always looked at it as they are giving thanks to their creator for helping them live up to their potential.
It's MUCH easier for me to ignore such excalmations of thanksgiving, than it is for me to ignore the over-the-top competitive bouts on the field/court that I have seen.
There are calls in both Old and New Testament to live one's faith openly rather than to hide one's light under a bushel. There are also calls to be modest and not to flaunt one's faith for attention or position. That makes a tough needle to thread.
Insofar as an athlete or others (the snowboarders on the current Amazing Race, for example) act their faith and want people to see that they have faith, I am glad to see it. When religious acts become displays and seem more about the actor than about God, they seem ostentatious to me. Lots of gray zone there.
Charlie Brown (old Peanuts cartoon):
I've made an interesting theological discovery.
If you hold your hands upside-down when you pray, you get the opposite of what you ask for.
I couldn't have named any player on the Denver Broncos' roster for the last 10 years - until everyone started hating on Tebow. Everyone rags on him but gee, he seems to win. I hope he sticks in people's craw all year - except when he plays the Bears.
Showing your faith openly makes some without faith feel....guilty and uncomfortable. To have faith takes effort! To show faith takes courage! I haven't accomplished either but I'm working on it. Tim Tebow lives a clean life, to many that is boring. With every win I quietly cheer the Bronco's and Tim.....the talking heads at ESPN bash him weekly.
Go Broncos! (coming from a Bengals fan)
All Christians are called to witness that Christ is alive; some of them also play football. It's hard to fault someone who does both well.