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Tim Tebow; or, Acts of Faith and Faithlessness

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When Tim Tebow was playing at the University of Florida, I wrote a piece dealing with the fact he literally wore his faith on his face -- bits of biblical discourse smeared beneath his eyes as if the words were there to shield him from the sun. Fortunately, the NFL frowns upon faith face painting, but that hasn't stopped him from resorting to other religious gestures, like kneeling in prayer after a touchdown, or other special play, as if God had bestowed on him and him alone a divine gift. One doesn't have to be the late Christopher Hitchens to recognize the flaws in such a gesture.

The obvious responses to a Tebow gesture (or any other gesture made with one finger pointing toward the heavens) are a) Why would God be interested in the NFL? and b) Why would God privilege Tebow over any other player in the NFL? Of course, one would have to wonder, with the disappearance of 40 million Indian girls, or the wholesale slaughter of innocent Syrian protester, or the sexual abuse of thousands of Dutch schoolchildren by the Catholic Church over several decades, why God would be spending His Sundays (or Thursday nights, for that matter) acting in a supporting role for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

I'm not one to belittle another's faith, and I respect Tebow's right to believe in whatever he wants to believe in, but I've always found his faith face painting and now his kneeling to be somewhat sacrilegious in that it seems to reduce the sacredness of one's faith to the pedestrian level of a game featuring men who, in any other venue, would be arrested for assault and battery. As if the act of praying becomes another type of "excessive celebration" devoid of an unsportsmanlike penalty. It seems patently obvious, or should be, that any of Tebow's good fortune is simultaneously a misfortune for a safety who blew his coverage or a linebacker who failed to contain a corner that should have been contained. The fact that Tebow has pulled off the Miracle on Bryant Street (or anywhere else) has as much to do with the fact that the Denver defense has kept the Tebow offense in the game and the fact their last seven wins came against teams with a combined 26-36 record, some of which were either playing with a rookie quarterback, a backup quarterback, a newly acquired quarterback, or an inconsistent quarterback. To that end, if the outcome of the game rests in the hands of the Almighty, then one has to wonder why those less fortunate teams have received neither divine inspiration nor divine intervention. However, one can only faithfully assume, since the Broncos were trampled by the Patriots 41 to 23, that God is more of a patriot than a bronco rider. So it goes.

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