The Relative Comment

soothing waves of relativity

Getting the Tebow Thing totally wrong.

with 7 comments

I don’t want to write about Tim Tebow, because everyone is writing about Tim Tebow. But sometimes, there’s a reason everyone is doing something. It is just unavoidable.

This morning, I read an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal called Tim Tebow: God’s Quarterback. It was written by Patton Dodd, who I have never heard of, but whose bio says he is “is the managing editor of the website Patheos and a former senior editor at Beliefnet. ”

In his article, Mr. Dodd claims that the fever over Tim Tebow, especially on the part of his critics, comes from the fact that we think Tebow must be a hypocrite. That no one can be that nice, that good, that kind-hearted, that sincere, etc. Asks Dodd:

In the case of Mr. Tebow, what seems to fuel many of his fans—and to drive many of his critics crazy—is not so much his evangelical faith itself but the equanimity and generosity that his faith inspires in him. Can he really mean it when he says that football isn’t that important to him, that he cares more about transcendent things?
…(a long list of the good things Tebow has done)…
What we are far less sure how to do is to take seriously a public figure’s seemingly admirable character and professions of higher purpose. We don’t know how to trust goodness.
And who can blame us? We don’t want to be fooled again.

 As one of the people that finds the Tebow Thing absolutely fascinating, tremendously infuriating, but inescapably attractive, I have to point out to Mr. Dodd: You are absolutely wrong. There are many, many reasons people like me find the Tebow Thing insane. But I don’t know anyone that thinks that Tim Tebow is not genuinely sincere, or is a hypocrite.

Tim Tebow’s actual belief and sincerity are not the point. They are, in fact, the LEAST interesting element of the whole Tebow Phenomenon. What really drives us mad? Evangelicals who write op-eds in national newspapers called “Tim Tebow: God’s Quarterback.” That’s why we are going crazy. Tim Tebow provides the most public, high-profile opportunity for proselytizing that has come along in a long time. And no one is missing the opportunity.

What drives us crazy is that national evangelical leaders like you, (and many others) take this opportunity to write about how we (Tebow doubters) cannot recognize what is good and are cynical about seeing people with good intentions. That Tebow should inspire us, like he has so many, that we are missing the point, that athlete after athlete is saved from the wreckage by their personal lord and savior. That with Tebow, there was no redemption, he was already there. That, as you say, I don’t know how to trust goodness.

These criticisms may be true. I don’t know. I tend to think that I have a good eye towards people who are making the world better, even if I don’t agree with their personal beliefs. Living well and loving others is the point, and if Tim Tebow does that through a wildly obnoxious public evangelical presence, that’s fine. I don’t share his belief, but that’s neither here nor there regarding whether he is living well.

It’s time for the Tebow Lovers to publicly recognize that the reason the Tebow Thing drives us bonkers is not Tim Tebow, it is you, and Mr. Dodd, and every other Tebow peddler in the media.

(and, maybe just a little, Tim Tebow).

**UPDATE: Now this is good coverage of Tim Tebow. And it’s even from the Wall Street Journal.

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Written by Christopher ZF

December 12, 2011 at 10:23

7 Responses

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  1. jdm

    December 12, 2011 at 14:27

  2. Well, the same website that Dodd wrote the original piece on also features this countering view on Tebow:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/10/29/a-trend-as-annoying-as-the-player-himself/

    Pick your poison, I suppose? 🙂

    Jeff Smith

    December 12, 2011 at 20:00

    • I facepalm just like Picard every time I see even the word Tebowing.

      czfinke

      December 12, 2011 at 20:15

  3. I see. There are people who hate Tebow for Tebow (or his faith), and there are probably a lot more people who dislike the whole thing because Tebow has been co-opted into a culture war and is used as a weapon against them. I can understand how that would be annoying to someone who doesn’t share his faith. But hopefully you can separate yourself from all of that to enjoy the sheer uncanniness of the Broncos’ success in the face of overwhelming “expert” opinion. I’m a bit worried that Tebow’s actions (or perceptions of his actions) may bring my faith into disrepute someday (although under the microscope of media coverage, his life seems to be exhibiting a shining witness), but I cannot help but be swept away on the wild, improbable ride from a football standpoint. It is as if these repeated improbable results create an apparition of magic. Faith or no, this is the best sports story for some time.

    Brandon

    December 13, 2011 at 13:30

    • Yes, as a sports story, it has all the riveting drama ESPN and others could dream of. They get to talk and talk about Tebow, and his detractors and his inability to play well, and despite it all the wins keep coming.

      czfinke

      December 13, 2011 at 20:33

  4. I know lots of people who dislike Tebow because they think he’s a hypocrite. And yes Chris, these people hated him before the media started covering/peddling him. These people are fans of SEC teams. Oddly, many of these fans also share his evangelical beliefs.

    Exile in SEC land

    December 15, 2011 at 12:57

    • I’m sure there are plenty of people who fit that description, SEC land man.

      But those people sound like assholes. And they represent one of the reasons that college sports, and sports in general, are terrible.

      The fun part of sports is to “hate” players for kicks, because it is fun to root against people in sports. But to have, you know, actual personal feelings about someone whose job is playing with toys, well, that’s perfectly absurd and dickish. The Tebow Thing, however is worth actually having feelings about, because it highlights cultural tendencies that, in TRC’s opinion, reflect badly. But the Tebow Thing has become almost entirely removed the man, Tim Tebow.

      czfinke

      December 15, 2011 at 13:02


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