Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome to Babylon, Tim Tebow!

In a city of 8 million people, we here in the Big Apple have pretty much seen everything and we tend to take it all in stride.  It takes an awful lot to shake up New Yorkers.  But this city has been galvanized by a 24-year old professing Christian named Tim Tebow and the fact that he is now going to be second string quarterback for the New York Jets.  He has been on the front pages of all of the newspapers and the top story in all the rest of the media in New York.  I personally, as a resident of New York City, could not be more thrilled.  As I have posted previously, I am not a pro sports fan.  I couldn't care less who does and does not play for the New York Jets or any other sports team.  It didn't phase me in the least when the New York Giants won the Superbowl. 

But I have made a big exception with Tim Tebow because of his very real belief in Jesus Christ and the wondeful positive message he sends to the world just by being alive.  Even those who have no use for him admit that he is the real deal.  There is nothing phony about Tim Tebow.  And in my mind, his most important message to the world is that of the sanctity of life.  His mother became quite ill while she was pregnant with him, and the doctors strongly advised her to get an abortion because he was going to be severely handicapped.  She refused, and as we can all see, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this strong and healthy young man. 

I don't think it's any accident that Tim Tebow, whom I have called "Gods Answer to Abortion", is now coming to the abortion capital of the United States, where over 40% of all preganancies end in abortion, and where there are approximately 89,000 abortions performed every year.  In the Black community, there are 3 abortions for every 2 live births.  The numbers are staggering.  There is a website devoted solely to the abortions done in New York City called nyc41percent.com

None of what I have read or heard about Tim Tebow has mentioned the abortion issue, but I can tell you without a doubt it is in the back of many liberal minds. 

One of the fairest editorials I have read about Tebow coming to New York City is from . . . . THE NEW YORK TIMES!  Yes, folks, that newspaper that so many revile as being the devil's newspaper, and in far too many ways, it is just that.   But once in a while they will surprise, and I was very pleasantly surprised with the following editorial by Ross Douthat:

Tebow in Babylon

By ROSS DOUTHAT
THE Prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh. St. Paul was sent to Athens, Macedonia, Rome. And now Tim Tebow has been sent to New York City.

There was a moment last week when it looked as if the trade shipping Tebow from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets might somehow fall through — that Tebow might end up a Jacksonville Jaguar instead, with a guaranteed starting job, a heavily evangelical fan base, and none of the insanity involved in eclipsing Jeremy Lin as the most famous Christian athlete in Babylon-upon-the-Hudson.

O ye of little faith. Did you think that the Lord God of Hosts, having raised Tebow up as a Gideon of the gridiron, would pass up the opportunity to put his faithful servant to the test? Did you think that the angelic screenwriters responsible for scripting last year’s succession of Tebow-related improbabilities had nodded off after the Broncos were dispatched in the A.F.C. playoffs? Did you think that the archons and demiurges who preside over America’s culture war would be content to let Tebow fade into obscurity — some red-state-friendly endorsement deals, a few 6-10 finishes, and then early retirement and a lifetime of under-the-radar charity work?

Above all, did you think that Tebow himself, with his distinctive mix of missionary zeal and “give me the ball” confidence, would duck the Gotham opportunity? That he would pull a LeBron James and take his talents down to Florida instead?

No, this was where the Tebow story was always destined to end up. Denver was his Galilee; New York will be the Roman Colosseum. Or to be pop cultural rather than scriptural: Denver was District 12 in Suzanne Collins’s Panem, and the Meadowlands will be the Hunger Games arena.

New Yorkers are a sophisticated lot, and the Tebow hype will afford them plenty of opportunities for eye-rolling. The sophisticated football fan will tell you that Tebow is a bad-to-mediocre quarterback with a few unusual skills who rode a lucky streak to undeserved fame; the rest is just the standard media fantasy about “intangibles” and “grit” dressed up with spirituality.

The sophisticated atheist will inform you that in a vast and complicated cosmos, there will inevitably be temporary patterns that give the appearance of some divine design. But it would be even more ridiculous for a secular-minded football fan to root against Tebow than for a religious fan to root for him: in a godless, random universe, failure is no more metaphysically significant than success. (Or as Grantland’s Brian Phillips put it: “If you’re against Tebow, you can’t read too much into Tebow’s failures, or else Tebow has already won.”)

The sophisticated Christian, meanwhile, may be a little embarrassed by the whole Tebow business. A sophisticate’s God doesn’t care about trivia like who wins football games. A sophisticate’s theology doesn’t depend on what some musclehead does with the pigskin.

But let’s be unsophisticated for a moment. Why is Tim Tebow such a fascinating and polarizing figure? Not just because he claims to be religious; that claim is commonplace among football stars and ordinary Americans alike. Rather, it’s because his conduct — kind, charitable, chaste, guileless — seems to actually vindicate his claim to be in possession of a life-altering truth.

Nothing discredits religion quite like the gap that often yawns between what believers profess and how they live. With Tebow, that gap seems so narrow as to be invisible. (“There’s not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow,” ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote last year of the quarterback’s charitable works, “and I’ve looked everywhere for it.”) He fascinates, in part, because he behaves — at least in public, and at least for now — the way one would expect more Christians to behave if their faith were really true.

But the fascination doesn’t end there. Tebow’s religion doesn’t just promise a path to personal transformation. It claims that every human life is actually a story with an Author, and that a genuinely Christian life should make that divine Authorship manifest.

So in Tebow’s case, the link between faith and football can’t actually be broken. The more that his professional career seems like, well, a storybook — with exciting up and downs, new opportunities and unexpected twists — the more credible his faith in providence becomes.

Note that “a storybook” is not the same as “an inevitable success.” In Christian theology as in young-adult fiction, even the author’s most beloved characters can suffer pain, temptation, failure, exile. The lives of the saints often end in martyrdom. The gentle, brutalized Peeta Mellark is as much the hero of “The Hunger Games” as the indomitable Katniss Everdeen.

So even the most pious of Jets fans shouldn’t expect a Super Bowl title. But if their new quarterback’s story really has an Author, they’re in for a pretty interesting ride.
Ah, Ross, you summed it up beautifully. Despite Cardinal Dolan's protestations that New York City is not modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, it is exactly that.  It can be no accident that the most high profile Christian in the land is now in one of the most secular cities in the world. He needs all the prayers and support he can get, and I intend to support him in any way I can. 

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