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Learning From Tebow

Via Meadia doesn’t usually have much to say about sports, and about the prospects of the various teams in the NFL we do not, in fact, take any view.  But a recent poll showing that 43 percent of Americans (and 52 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29) believe that God is helping Mr. Tebow win cries out for comment.

Theologically, this is a tricky question.  On the one hand, a serious monotheist has to accept that everything that happens is God’s will at some level.  From that perspective it is hard to argue that Mr. Tebow is winning games against God’s will.

More profoundly, it’s not at all clear, either from scripture or theology that God rewards those he loves with successful careers and public victories on earth.  That certainly isn’t how things worked out for Jesus, and a great many of God’s favorites seem to have gone through some rough times. The Bible tells us repeatedly that God has a special love for the poor and many of us know from personal experience that it is through our defeats and our failures that we have come closest to God.

A truly advanced Christian would be as thankful for the interceptions and failed plays as well as he was for the touchdowns.  All presumably are manifestations of the divine will, and the faithful should strive to be grateful in and out of season.

But Mr. Tebow is a young athlete not an old monk, and Via Meadia is inclined to be indulgent. A man who bears witness that true manhood consists in acknowledging your dependence on a higher power and that even rich and famous athletes need to regulate their conduct by something other than their own wishes and whims is someone to respect.

And for those who twist themselves into knots of chagrin over Mr. Tebow’s habit of public prayer, we advise some deep breathing and calm reflection. Mr. Tebow is not forcing anyone to join him in these moments of devotion; supporters of his opponents remain free to invoke divine assistance for their own cause.  And as a role model for youth, an athlete who neither beats women nor takes drugs seems, well, not too bad.

About Mr. Tebow’s skills as a quarterback or his chances for a championship ring, Via Meadia has nothing to say.

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  • Mike M.

    Football is only one part of Tim Tebow’s life. I highly recommend reading this amazing column from Rick Reilly at ESPN about him at the link below:

    However one feels about Tebow’s personal religious and political beliefs, after reading this I think even the most cynical observers will have to admit that this is a pretty special young man. We could use many more like him in America today. Most of the great things he does in the future will not be on the football field, but off of it.

  • Marty

    While I certainly agree with your comments, I have to add this: that in order to believe God wanted me to win, I also have to believe He wanted my opponents to lose. While the ways of God are truly mysterious, it’s a difficult proposition to discern any value to life, evolution, and Spirit in God playing favorites.

  • Toni

    A few WSJ perspectives:

    Fran Tarkenton asks “Does Care Who Wins Football Games?”

    On Tim Tebow’s human role model

    “The Secrets of Tebow Hatred”

  • lowly muser

    If what they say is true, he’s an extraordinary Christian man, and indulgence is fitting. In fact, do we not read, “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32). On the other hand, there is this: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 6:1). These statements go to the heart of the matter, which is precisely what none of us can know. So for now we are left to judge from appearances, taking, I suppose, the via meadia of circumspection.

  • Kris

    I am the Lord thy God, and I am here to declare that whatever help I have given Tim Tebow is due not to his putative righteousness, but solely to my desire to discomfit the Tebow-phobes.

  • Toni

    “everything that happens is God’s will at some level.”

    I had a pastor whose wife suffered horribly from rheumatoid arthritis before dying of it. He concluded, “God allows what God does not cause.”

  • kerry

    Of course God is ‘helping’ Tim Tebow. But who said anything about winning?

  • Cathleen

    You are always a voice of reasoned humility, Mr. Mead. As someone who (unfortunately) reads political blogs like a crack addict, your commentary is a welcome respite from the high-pitched screeching that permeates much of the blogosphere. Thanks so much.

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