Tebow Mania…Or Idolatry in Process?

Until a couple of weeks ago I had no clue who Tbone or Tebow was and I tripped merrily along in my blissful ignorance. And blissful it was because once I started following this so-called phemomenon, it started to get rally scarey.

Stephen Jay Gould divided modern thinkers into two categories: neo-Platonists committed to the “central tendency” of any given system, and their antagonists who emphasize “richness of variation.” This division nicely tracks the endpoints in the range of opinons and  positions on Tim Tebow.

What exactly does this exhibitionism mean?

The humility taught in Eph 2:8-10 isn’t exactly what we see in Tebow, is it? On the one hand we have sports fans that pay BIG money for tickets, pay-per-view, supporting sponsors; we have sports gear manufacturers paying millions for endorsements of their products; we have even politicos who, eager to cash in on the pseudo-heros of professional sports while capitalizing on a new faith gimmick, are courting this phenomenon for his support (and no doubt the fanatical rightist fundamentalist/evangelical lunatic fringe will follow right along, wherever scripture in eyeblack [mis]leads).

What are his "requests?"

What exactly are Tebow’s requests? More money? More Nike and Jockey contracts? More adoration and worship from the masses? What are the requests that Tebow is making in citing Phil 4:6-7 in his eyblack?

We hear so much now about his ‘divine’ beginnings: his mother resisting abortion, his battle for life as an infant, his parents’ missionary activities in the third world, his home schooling, his admission to highschool sports thanks to state legislation, bla-bla-bla. He talks the talk, too. He’s a product, a marketer, a unique package. But he’s pitifully human, people!

Word is, he’s a Baptist…you know, one of those literalist, fundamentalist, Jesus! types. He’s also an exhibitionist, so the question arises in my mind that if he holds Holy Scripture so dear, why is he prooftexting? Why is he profaning it and misusing it to create a profitable image? Oh! Excuse me…isn’t that what Baptists do best? (I realize that’s a gross exaggeration and I apologize to those Baptists who don’t rely on prooftexting.)

For me, the whole issue is treated by St Paul in Romans 1, particularly vv. 24, 26, 28 where we read, “God gave them up.” The point Paul is making in those passages is (1) that idolatry finally debases both the worshiper and the idol, and (2) the creature’s original impulse aimed at self-glorification ends in self-destruction.

What really irks me, thought is when the Vatican has to chime in through some obscure office through some obscure spokesperson, one Legionary of Christ Father Kevin Lixey, who “works in the Roman Curia helping the Church make a contribution to the world of sport, with the aim of promoting a sports culture suitable to the integral development of the individual.” Yeah, you’re reading right. Wonder in which broom closet this Fr Lixey has his desk.

Seems the Roman Catholic Church is not one to sit  back and let a phenomenon, an opportunity slip through their fingers. Nor are they going to point out the evil of the Tebow phenomenon and its inherent risks and false implications and possible dangerous example. Hell, NO! Why draw the fire of so many millions of Tebow idolators…who needs more bad press or criticism for one’s principles? (Read or download the entire statement at Vatican Voice Comments on ‘Tebow-mania’.)

The next step?

 I’ve been getting a lot of mail on this subject lately and it’s time people start waking up–again. Tebow is an exhibitionist and has a great marketing schtick, and a great stage to present it. Problem is, he’s misusing something very sensitive, religion and faith. What I see here is the pharisee not the publican.

I recently received this image in an e-mail:

Answer: It is OK because it is a depiction of a devout and committed  faith community in appropriate public worship, liturgy, and living a shared spirituality (one could easily substitute an image of a Catholic Mass!); the public display  of questionable motivation on the right is deplorable for its narcissism and exhibitionism. Unless, I’m missing something the Tebow image depicts one individual engaging in a personal demonstration of a yet unidentified spirituality among tens of thousands doing their own–presumably unspiritual thing–it is not a liturgical or public worship event [it may be a spiritual experience of a sort for some, tho’] at all but one single individual providing a public performance (it could have been done privately in the locker room or in seclusion off the field). I hope that clarifies the situation.


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One response to “Tebow Mania…Or Idolatry in Process?

  • Fides qua Creditur

    Please let’s not start deifying a flesh-and-blood man who has been blessed with gifts and is certainly making the best of them. This entire Tebow-phenomenon is navigating perilously close to idolatry and for all of the worst reasons. He’s blessed with gifts (including Jockey and Nike contracts), he’s blessed with wealth (what’s he making, anyway), he’s blessed with great showmanship (Watch me pray! Ain’t that great?), he’s blessed with health and youth (for now). But he’s not a Christ or a Buddha, Thank you! Until the inevitable hubris and the attendant scandal? Probably. How long will his “divinity” last, I ask? Modern mankind chooses its idols very carelessly, and doesn’t seem to learn when they finally totter and topple, as do so many of the sports, political, and other pseudo-“heros.”

    But really, to start drawing Scriptural parallels with this guy’s coïncidental–or worse, contrived, figures is not only blasphemous but idiotic!

    Here are some Scriptural parallels for you: Matthew 6:6. How about some pharisee and publican lore, Luke18:9-14.

    Prayer is simple, private, and intimate not something we flaunt in a modern liturgy of professional sports. Consider for a moment, if you will, the fourth moment or ingredient of Lectio Divina is contemplatio or contemplation. This is a concept with a lot of history behind it and not a few difficulties connected to it. We can use a more sown-to-earth term that is difficult to misunderstand understandable: rest. At this point we are invited to enter into the mystery of God. It is no longer necessary to think holy thoughts, or to speak but simply to rest in God. “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

    Ever wonder what he’s actually praying for? Maybe some humility or modesty perhaps? Only his god knows for sure.

    Peace and silent contemplation,

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