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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tim Tebow can touch MC Hammer

Okay, first confession: I know lots about birthin' babies but I don't know nothin' 'bout football.

Second confession: I have heard - ad nauseam - about Tim Tebow.

Final confession: I really don't care much about either football or Tim Tebow.

Here's what I care about: All the hoopla surrounding the "miracles of math" about this Denver Bronco's quarterback cum Christian Evangelist and how it makes all Christians look like morons.

It begins to border on a Christian cult.

It began before he was born.

The holy football writ legend story goes that, while pregnant, his mother suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba. Because of the drugs used to rouse her from a coma and to treat her dysentery, the fetus experienced a severe placental abruption.

Doctors had expected a stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life, although abortions are illegal in the Philippines where she and her husband were Baptist missionaries, but she decided not to have one.

Her choice. At least she had one.

Tebow in the days when he was allowed to carry messages in his eye-black.
That story was really the first time I ever heard the name Tim Tebow. He was playing for the Florida University Gators and had already gotten some press because he had scratched in John 3:16 (Luther called the verse "the gospel in miniature") into his eye-black.

He and his mother, Pam, made news about spreading their opinion that abortion is wrong.

Indeed, there was that whole controversy about the Anti-Abortion Commercials, financed by the conservative Christian Evangelical group, Focus on the Family, he and his mother made which were to air during the Superbowl in 2010.

I remember listening to the interviews and watching the ad and thinking, "This boy and his story are NOT going away."

That's not the first time controversy has surrounded this young man.  The youngest of five children, he and his siblings were homeschooled by their mother which normally would have excluded him from being able to play on local high school teams. However, the law changed and he and his mother moved to an apartment near the high school so he could play quarterback.

Some folks made a fuss about that, but it only served to prepare him for the controversy that was to surround this young man.

Besides, for an Evangelical, nothing is more 'faith-convicting' than the feeling of being persecuted. Make 'em feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

That, and numbers.  I'll get to that in a minute.

Here's another story about the Tebow the Miracle Man from his high school days:
Tebow was soon known not only for his running and throwing, but for his intense competitiveness and uncommon physical courage. Later that same year he suffered an injury to his right leg late in the first half of a game. Originally thought by the Nease (High School) coaching staff to be a bad cramp, he played the entire second half with a broken fibula, at one point rushing for a 29-yard touchdown. After the game the extent of the injury was discovered and he was held out for the remainder of his junior season. Nevertheless he was named Florida's Player of the Year and became a major college football quarterback prospect. During his senior season he led the Nease Panthers to a state title, earned All-State honors, was named Florida's Mr. Football and a Parade magazine high school All-American, and repeated as Florida's Player of the Year.
Clearly, this young man is an incredible, devoted athlete, but it's the numbers - combined with his Evangelical faith - that have catapulted him into the national limelight.

During this past Sunday's game against the Steelers, the three-number sequence popped up more than a few times. CBS reports:
As our brilliant commenters point out below, Tebow completed 10 passes. That means he averaged 31.6 yards per pass. His final pass was to Thomas who just happens to have been born on Christmas Day. (!)

Oh and this: the Steelers-Broncos game was the most-watched wild-card game since 1988. In the final quarter-hour, the overnight rating was 31.6. Weird stuff man, weird stuff.

As it turns out, the lone interception thrown in the game on Sunday night came from Ben Roethlisberger. What down and distance were involved when he threw it? Third and 16. Of course.
Apparently, this was enough to send football fans over the edge - not that it takes much. Google reported that three of the top sixteen (There's that 3:16 again) searches that weekend were (1) John 3:16 (2) Tim Tebow and (5) broncos, beating out ((3) ford fusion and (4) beyonce baby.

Can you believe it? Tim Tebow beat out Blue Ivy - the newborn daughter of Bey and Jay? I mean, how much more of a miracle do you need to see?

One commentator gushed that this made Tebow the best evangelist "in the world".


Looking up and reading John 3:16 isn't going to make you a Christian any more than going into the garage every day is going to make you a car.

Philippians 4:6-7
Look, when I was a kid - probably up until the time I was a teenager - I used to be fascinated by numbers as well.

Oooooh: Four corners of the earth. Four directions of the wind. Four evangelists who wrote four books of the Gospels.

And, I - even I - was born in April. the fourth month of the year.

Far out, man! What does it mean? Must mean....something....right?

Wait! If it's so important, why are there three persons in one God and not four?

I asked "Father" that question, once, and saw the back of his hand for "questioning the gift of faith". I never asked it again. Indeed, I just decided that religion was for morons and left my heart right there on the church steps.

I took my soul with me, which suited me well when I finally found a religious denomination that didn't require me to leave my brains at the door as a requirement for membership.

I suppose you've really made it when the media begins to make jokes about you. I especially loved this skit from Saturday Night Live.  I love it when Jesus asks Tebow to "take it down a notch" and reveals that He actually prays to Broncos kicker Matt Prater - who has reportedly been saving this team in a more terrestrial sense.

Here are some "Tebowisms" that have recently sprung up:
The square root of Tim Tebow is a stiff arm to the face.

The active ingredient in Red Bull is Tim Tebow's sweat.

The NFL renamed the 2 minute warning, "Tebow Time".

Tim Tebow's number is 15 because that's how many players it takes to tackle him.

SuperMan wears Tim Tebow Pajamas.

One time Tim Tebow threw a football up into the air as hard as he possibly could, that football today is known as the Halley's Comet.

Tim Tebow doesn't run down the field, the field moves under Tim Tebow.

When Tim Tebow's sister lost her virginity, he got it back.

David didn't beat Goliath, Tim Tebow did!

By the time it takes you to read this Tim Tebow has already read the bible...twice.
I've actually done some math of my own. Watch this and be amazed:

Timothy Richard Tebow was born August 14, 1987. If you add the eighth month with the fourteenth day, you get 22. Reduce that to its lowest number by adding them together and you get 4.

See that? Four corners of the earth. Four directions of the wind. Four gospels.

It must be a sign, don't you think?

But wait! There's more.

If you add 8 + 14 + 1987, you get 2009 - which was the year he ran for two touchdowns to put him in 2nd place on the all-time SEC touchdown list. (see also 22 = 4 above).

That was also the year his team lost - once again to Alabama - leaving Tebow weeping on the sidelines, but hey, people, let's stay focused on what's important.

Tebow graduated from the University of Florida in December 2009 with a bachelor's degree in family, youth and community sciences. See what I mean?

Besides, if you add 2 + 0 + 0 + 9 = 11, which, added together equals 2 which is the sum of the month and day of his birth.

And, and, AND.... If you add up all the numbers of his full name, you get 19. 1 + 9 = 20. And, there's that number 2 again. Weird stuff, man. Weird stuff.

Coincidence? I think not.

And, the message? Beats he heck out of me. I'm a theologian, not a mathematician.

Well, Tebow may have made it big, his ability to "strike a pose" and be in prayer on the football field are now called "Tebowing" and his various biblical messages on his eye-black may have raised him to mythic status among football fan(atic)s but I think this has given Christianity a real black eye.

While I appreciate his faith, I think it's guys like that who make the rest of the members of Western Christianity look like morons.

And, in truth, some of us are. 

But, some of us take our faith - but not ourselves - seriously.

Yes, there are mysteries about God and the universe that are beyond human comprehension. But, sometimes, stuff happens. Good stuff. Bad stuff. Some of it makes sense. Most of it doesn't.

I believe there are some things in life that are coincidence, and other things that are not. I believe in paradox and serendipity and I believe what Jung said about synchronicity.

And, as fascinating as mathematics is (which is way above my pay and grade), I believe you can't explain everything with math.

Or, the Bible.

So, lighten up, everybody. 

Just try to enjoy the game.

You know. The way Jesus does.

Otherwise, we all just look like morons.

Which I think, as Anne Lamott once said, is enough to make Jesus drink gin straight out of the cat dish.


James said...

Brilliant post!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Brava, Elisabeta! I KNOW I could not have said it better. Besides, I was born in 1934. You see? There's the no. 4 again. That's how I knew you were right. In addition, I celebrated 50 years of wedded bliss last year. 50 x 2=100. 100 divided by 25=4. See? No.4 again. All the more reason to think you're spot on.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Math has always given me a headache. Math and football = a migraine.

Mat + football + Tebow = right past migraine and into effin insanity.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

James - That's because I didn't have to use too much math in order to write it. Or, football.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Dr. Kaeton.

One correction though, Mr. Tebow is a graduate of the University of Florida (the Gators), not Florida State (the Seminoles).

Patti Joy said...

Elizabeth, I have been reading your posts on HOB/D for years & enjoy Telling Secrets. Well written ... even though I am a Tebow fan, a Florida Gator through and through, I continue to appreciate your honesty and candor.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jeff - Oops. Right you are. Thanks for the correction.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Patti Joy. Nothing against Tebow the athlete. Most of his fans are pretty fanatic - present company obviously excluded.

IT said...

There was an image going around on facebook asking why we think God would give Tim Tebow a touchdown while leaving children in Africa starving.

It's just a game.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

IT - EXACTLY! On both points.

JCF said...

Go here and tell me, if you have a *slightly* functioning "-dar", that the answer isn't "Hell Yeah!"

Glinda the Good Witch is cueing up her song for you, Timmy. [And won't it be Oh-So-Interesting WHEN Tim Tebow, Conservative Evangelical Hero, does as Glinda requests????]

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter how he expresses himself if he is giving all of the glory and honor to God? Perhaps, he is giving witness in the best way he knows how and bringing people to God that may not have had the experience otherwise.
I guess I don't mind all the press coverage. He is a better role model for kids than Sandusky.
Just a thought.

MarkBrunson said...

At some point, Tebow will cease to be interesting, as well. Like as not, as with all these "evangelists," he'll be caught in something unsavory. As for football, the minute he becomes too old or too important to play, his "fans" will forget him, or mock his infomercial appearances.

He might remember this verse:

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - Thanks. I think. ;~)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Maria - Well, of course Tebow is a better role model than Sandusky. That's a bit of an overstatement. The thing of it is, it's such BAD theology. I hate to think of kids growing up believing that God sits in an armchair, drinking beer, watching football games and "helping' Tebow while children starve and tornadoes ruin people's homes and little children work and die in gold mines in Africa and.... well, you get the picture.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mark - It can't happen soon enough for me.

Bateau Master said...

Do you really mean that you and Mark desire Tim Tebow be caught in something "unsavory"?

Read about how he is living his life and witnessing to his love of Jesus Christ and tell us what he is doing wrong. Is he not following the Great Commission? Is he following it wrong? He appears to love God with all his heart and also appears to love his neighbor as himself. He also appears to being using those "different" gifts of the Spirit in positive manner. What in you does that bother, and is it a Tebow issue or is it a you issue?

By the way, Tebow doesn't throw interceptions, he throws the ball to the other side so he can hit somebody!


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Take a breath, BM. If you look at the past five years, there are many mighty Evangelicals have fallen. Hard. And far.

Here's what Mark said: Like as not, as with all these "evangelists," he'll be caught in something unsavory."

That's not anything about "desiring" that for Tebow. That just seems to be the way it goes for those who take great pride in being 'squeaky clean'.

I suppose I may have been a bit unclear in my response. I was responding to the last part of his statement: 'As for football, the minute he becomes too old or too important to play, his "fans" will forget him, or mock his infomercial appearances."

To which I was responded "It can't happen soon enough for me." Meaning, that he will soon be forgotten - not that he will be mocked.

For Pete's sake, BM, you've been reading my blog long enough to
know me better than that.

Here's what bugs me: People who think evangelism can be reduced to quoting bible verses on eye-black and people who find "divine messages" in numbers and present them as having some kind of authenticity because they can link them to bible verses.

That's insulting to the hard work and life-long commitment it takes to be a faithful follower of Jesus - never mind to our intelligence.

As I said in my post - googling John 3:16 and looking it up in Scripture will not make anyone a Christian any more than going to the garage will make you a car.

To think that way is fine. That's a person's right. To try to persuade others that this is what being a Christian is all about is just flat out insulting.

Bateau Master said...

I don't think he's reducing evangelism to eye-black scripture text - his under-reported ministry is way beyond that. But it does open the door for witnessing - an opening for us out in the hinterland. Twice this week, because of last Sunday's game - I was able, without breaking any workplace rules, to quote John 3:16. I even told folks that this week I hope the Broncos win and Tebow throws for 111 yards - thus opening up John at the beginning.

He is a fun conduit to show joyful Christianity - especially when ****heads like Rick Santorum currently are presenting such an unjoyful picture. He's walking the walk - so sing with me here:

I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a Bronco, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green; they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,God helping, to be one too.

Where will you be Saturday night?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

BM - I think the efficacy of that kind of "witnessing" is dubious at best. I understand. It makes the 'evangelist' feel good about being able to do *something* for the gospel, but its a Johnny-Appleseed approach, scattering seeds and without toiling the soil to make sure they take root. It's a lovely, romantic idea - and, probably 'fun' for the evangelist - but like so many romantic ideas we have about so many things, the truth of the matter is that Christianity takes hard work and a lifelong commitment to the gospel.

Besides, as I said, it's ultimately insulting to the intelligence of the person being evangelized.

The one thing I can say for Billy Graham's Crusades is that his ministry team always worked with the leaders of the local congregations before and after his Event. Which is why he was so successful as an evangelist.

To compare Tebow with Graham is like comparing a babbling toddler to a wise sage.

I'm reminded of this quote from Urban Holmes in "What is Anglicanism": "Scripture for the Anglican is a fundamental source of authority for the church; but apart from reason it is dangerous. It becomes the mirror for the misdirected person to project his or her own opinions and give them the authority of God. The sin of schism in the result."

So, while I'm not able to sing with you about Tebow, I'm delighted we agree on Santorum.

Bateau Master said...

I think I've been straw dogged with the introduction of Rev. Graham.

However - for a 25 year old, his positive impact through guided efforts appear significant:

It's the hype created by others (and some not so friendly) that has brought on discord.

First, Tebow was trashed as a professional quarterback - really trashed, and by lots of people and very publicly. But the fans of Denver wanted to see what their Number 1 draft pick could produce - so by popular demand they gave him a shot and he took the team to the play-offs is spectacular fashion. If you haven't watch - Tebow Time - the last 2 minutes of games (Miami, Chicago, OT Pittsburgh) are thrilling and akin to fantasy. The storyline is magnetic.

Plus, the idea that Bill Maher squirms at the sound of his name is priceless.

Don't make Christianity so complicated, it isn't. The struggle against sin and want and injustice is difficult, but the faith is straight foward - like John 3:16.

Go Broncos

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

BM - If you were straw-dogged, it's because you set it up by calling Tebow an evangelist.

He's not. He's a football player who happens to be a Christian Evangelical who seems to like the "easy grace" of doing gimmicky show-offy things like putting John 3:16 in his eye-black.

Look, I'll give Tebow the fact that he's probably a good if not great athlete. I'll also give you that, on the face of things, he's probably a devout Christian who even has taken some of his $ and put it to work doing good things for people who need it.

That's basic, minimum standard stuff. "To whom much is given, much is expected."

And, no, BM. Being a Christian is not that easy. Maybe it's not that hard, but it's not as easy as putting Jn 3:16 in your eye-black or looking it up on the internet and actually reading the passage.

Neither is 'witnessing' to your faith easy. Neither is it easy to do 'evangelism' that leads to something efficacious.

It's all so dummied-down and simplistic it makes me angry and yes, it makes my skin crawl too, because it makes all Christians look like morons.

Some of us are. Most of us are not.

it's margaret said...

ummmm.... there is something about hypocrites saying showy prayers in public where all can see and hear them --or going home and saying your prayers in private..... Tebow might think of taking up this discipline for a while --just as a matter of evangelism....

On the other hand, if I had my birth month and date number together I get "7" and if I had the abbreviated form of my birth year together I get "11"... 7-11. Dang! I better go buy some jackpot tickets or something!

wv: hourri
Yes, I will hourri and go buy those jackpot tickets! Now is the time! Another sign!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Margaret, for returning a touch of levity into a conversation that had gone down far too serious a track to be merited by this young, earnest, well-intentioned athlete who is woefully inadequate as an evangelist.

Here's the thing that astounds me: Evangelicals believe in the depravity of the human condition. They start their journey in faith with The Fall.

Progressives begin with Incarnate Love of God in Christ and see what happened in The Garden for the myth that it is, hearing God say, over and over, "It is good".

And yet, here I am saying that Christianity takes hard word and an Evangelical poster saying, "Lighten up. It's not that hard"

LOL. Well, if the condition of one's existence is "depravity", I should think easy solutions like wearing Jn 3:16 in your eye-black would be scoffed at. That sounds more like the easy answer to what Evangelicals scoff at about Progressive's "soft" Christianity.

I suppose they don't understand that most Progressives believe that salvation is worked out between the person and God through Jesus in community - NOT by following a bunch of rules imposed on them by the institutional church.

Ah, ironies abound. Must make Jesus giggle.