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Best Things of 2011: Tim Tebow Time

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We’ve had fun with Mr. Tebow at TRC. He’s a fun public figure to engage with, because, well, he’s so public, so evangelical, so mediocre at his job, and so beloved. From the moment he was drafted higher than anyone expected, to the moment he starred in the Focus on the Family television ad at the Super Bowl, Tebow had blood boiling.

And it hasn’t stopped now that he is a starting QB and winning (most of) his games. If TRC thinks so little of Tim Tebow the footballer and evangelical spouter of Christian cliches during post-game interviews, then why is this man among our Best Things of 2011? Good question.

Because Tim Tebow, all by his lonesome, just by being extra-smiley and kind and overly enthusiastic in his heaven pointing and highly-public prayer oriented, causes (some) people to have serious conversations about the role of religion in popular society, to discuss the standards of journalism, to argue over culpability of religious beliefs, to question the motives of the uber-evangelical cultural forces in the United States. Regardless of where one comes out on any of these discussions, there is value in our country in just digging in to a lot of the murky American Life that seems every day second nature.

So, Tim Tebow is among our best things of the year. To illustrate, Tim Tebow managed in the last 24 hours to have this written in an article called Tebow’s Religion: Fair Game: 

Tim Tebow became “compelling” because he became a character in the great national dumbshow that is our culture war. And we should be very clear about one thing — he wasn’t dragooned into this. Nobody drafted him. He walked into this role with his eyes open. Before he ever took a snap in the NFL, he appeared in an anti-choice television ad with his mother that was sponsored by Focus on the Family, an influential anti-choice, anti-gay-rights organization founded by the Rev. James Dobson. He knew what he was doing. 

AND this, in an article called Tebow Sacks Socialism:

Everyone wants a piece of 24-year-old Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Most people settle for a high-five or an autograph. Others ask him to surrender his values, like the young women who beg him for fan photos and then start stripping off their shirts—sending Tebow darting away.
Tebow has All-American character. He espouses capitalistic values that are foundational to America: Competitiveness, ownership, responsibility, hard work, optimism, faith and persistence.

That’s quite an accomplishment for 24-year old kid who is paid millions of dollars to be a professional ball-thrower.

A final example of why Tim Tebow deserves a spot in TRC’s Best Things list. In an email exchange I was involved in that began as a conversation about Tebow, I somehow eventually wrote the following, which sums up my feelings about just how dynamic a cultural place the whole damn Tebow Affair has taken:

I am interested in the idea that Christians in the US believe we are not a Christian Nation (using this loosely, of course, not in some Theocratic sense, but as a stop holder), while people outside of religion (like me) think that we are so very buried in the puritan experiment that to claim that America is not Christian is totally incorrect.
Tebow actually has an interesting role in that debate, which takes me by surprise. But if there is any place we don’t want to get into such a conversation, it is probably pro Football. And yet, here we are. Thanks a lot Tebow. 

Written by Christopher ZF

December 20, 2011 at 12:17

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