Yesterday, I stumbled on some unlikely (for me) reading about Tim Tebow. I have tried to stay away from all the noise, because I don’t want to feed a monster. But, this article does more than diagnose a media phenomenon – Chuck Klosterman looks at why people are so passionate about whatever side they’ve chosen to take in the Tebow Controversy of 2011, of which I claim neutral status.
Here’s how he sums up his rather lengthy article,
The crux here, the issue driving this whole “Tebow Thing,” is the matter of faith. It’s the ongoing choice between embracing a warm feeling that makes no sense or a cold pragmatism that’s probably true. And with Tebow, that illogical warm feeling keeps working out. It pays off. The upside to secular thinking is that — in theory — your skepticism will prove correct. Your rightness might be emotionally unsatisfying, but it confirms a stable understanding of the universe. Sports fans who love statistics fall into this camp. People who reject cognitive dissonance build this camp and find the firewood. But Tebow wrecks all that, because he makes blind faith a viable option. His faith in God, his followers’ faith in him — it all defies modernity. This is why people care so much. He is making people wonder if they should try to believe things they don’t actually believe.
I think Klosterman hits the nail square on its head when he suggests the real root of anti-Tebow angst is not his presence in the media or his specific religious affiliation. The real root of all this angry noise is a universal discomfort of the other. Tebow, a sports anomaly, appears to truly believe that there is a power greater than his offensive line and a plan beyond that of the Super Bowl… and he hasn’t biffed any interview to reveal otherwise.
Again, not necessarily a Tebow fan or non-fan, but I think this informal social study points to an uncomfortable result from the impressive intellectual advances of modern and post-modern thought. Your average Joe would rather support other average Joe sports icons who trust in their abilities alone to get the job done. But this is more than sports (also as Klosterman points out). Though it limits possibilities, we are willing to ex-communicate a divine presence because we would rather believe outcomes are within our control (good or bad). Believing otherwise means we would have to do some serious soul searching.
If Tebow is really as transparent as he seems, if there is no gnarly skeleton in his locker, if he does believe all he claims, then sports fans might have to start thinking seriously about the forever post-game.
There are countless historical examples of this same universal discomfort that arises when someone of irrefutable character makes a bold statement by a life that points to something else. I think of Bonhoeffer.
This man had the pedigree for greatness – he had family ties, academic prowess, and a determination that would make (dare I say) Tebow seem like a nursery rhyme. He studied hard, gathered degrees, and decided to pursue the ministry (in his day, a respected career, but an unlikely one for a man so bright and gifted).
But he had something I can’t quite put my finger on, something that weaves life with theology in a way they can’t be separated.
I call it viviology because I can’t find a better word.
This viviology is not a gimmick. It’s not something you see on Sunday or at speaking engagements. When Bonhoeffer was working with adolescent ruffians in Wedding, very few people noticed. His life was not a show, it was just life. I imagine if I could ask Bonhoeffer why he worked so hard with that confirmation class or why he poured so much into the discipleship of young men, he would say, “What else is there to do?”
Being “radical” or a “standout” is really not something we should have to add to “Christian.” C.S. Lewis once described in Weight of Glory our duty as Christians to always operate with a mindset of war. We are always accountable to our commander, always looking to be useful, and never looking for praise for what comes naturally with the job description as soldier.
God shouldn’t have to qualify our calling by saying He wants us to be “radical” Christians. When Christ said, “Follow me,” the calling was filled to fullness. There is no room for lukewarm and no room for additional meaning. The only kind of calling to follow Christ is one that consumes every fiber and fills every motion. The Christian calling is one alive and breathing, with the air of gratitude filling our lungs. A life of faith is not one that can be neatly sliced and served up in reasonable portions.
A life of Christian faith is just life – all of it.
And that’s a big statement.
I certainly didn’t set out thinking I had this much to say, but we surprise ourselves sometimes!
let LOVE fly like cRaZy
- DDFP: Getting on the Tebow bandwagon (davedameshek.nfl.com)
- Tim Tebow Curse? Tebow Is Not Mad at the Detroit Lions, but Is God? (bleacherreport.com)
- How Tim Tebow Is Seen by the All-Knowing, Not Just Cowherd, Plummer and Limbaugh (bleacherreport.com)