“That view can easily mislead and distort the reality of Tebow’s faith”

The Anchoress is back after a brief hiatus and she’s weighing in reluctantly on the Tim Tebow phenomenon:

Tim-tebowNo one can possibly know if the freakish numbers accompanying yesterday’s game actually mean anything. Is it God being reassuring? Crafty leprechauns out to distract us from what is more important? Perhaps the numbers game is the underworld distorting issues of faith and prayer; perhaps it is the unwitting result of a collective-consciousness obsession.

Everyone will believe what they like, and we’re all free to. I tend to come down on the story somewhere between Shakespeare and a cockney philosopher: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt in your philosophy, Horatio, and it’s a funny ol’ world, ain’t it?

Father James Martin, asked the question by the WaPo, goes full-Jesuit on the story:

All this raises the inevitable question, and one that I’ve been asked numerous times over the last few months: Is God answering Tim Tebow’s prayers?

Well, in good Jesuitical fashion the answer is: Yes, no, and I don’t know.

He’s right on all counts: yes, God is hearing and answering Tebow’s prayers, because he hears and answers all of our prayers. No, we cannot possibly understand what the answer really is, and being a public Christian is not a freepass to success, and who can know the mind of God, anyway?

Lost in all of this is the simple truth that a person’s relationship with God, no matter how publicly lived, is still profoundly personal and deeply, mysteriously unknowable.

I suspect Tebow, when he prays during a game, is praying “thy will be done” and “praise be to you”, and any contemplative will tell you that these simple prayers, when prayed regularly and heartfully before the start and end of every activity, become profound and intimate interactions.

But to many–perhaps to most–Tebow’s actions are interpreted to be little more than “God, help me complete this pass” and “Hey, thanks for the completed pass!” and, as Fr. Martin suggests, that view can easily mislead and distort the reality of Tebow’s faith and the whole point of the life of faith, in general. This is why I rather dislike the intense interest in Tebow and God and Answered Prayers: I think it is helping to put a very shallow spin on a practice of true depth.

She’s got more and as always, it’s worthy of your time.

I’m having fun tweaking the haters and they’re out there in great numbers.  

But what this all means is anyone’s guess and whether God is actually in the midst of Tebow time is best left for deeper thinkers.  It’s tough however not to mess with some people.  On facebook, someone (admittedly not necessarily a Tebow hater) wrote “I guess it’s true what they say…God works in mysterious ways….helping Tim Tebow win a football game; but not helping all the starving African kids, or stopping wars, or curing disease…”

To which I replied, with tongue less than firmly planted in cheek, “Or growing hair on bald men… it’s all crazy… next thing you know, God might decide to become a man who likes to party (by turning water into wine), a man who likes to punk his followers (I walked on water Peter, c’mon you can do it) or someone crazy enough to say: Hey, believe in me and live forever… yea, it’s all crazy mysterious and completely out of character for God to be taking all this Tebowing crap seriously…”

My point, perhaps lost in the feebleness of my attempt to make it, is if God can do what Scripture has God doing time and again, is it really all that nutty to believe he’s got His hand in this?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

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Posted by on January 9, 2012.
Filed under Religion, Sports.
I blog more regularly at my own place where plain thoughts are delivered roughly. My about page gives you more on who I am.

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  • UOG

    Belief in God is an act of faith. God intervening in NFL football games would be proof of his existence. Followers would not need faith as proof denies the need for faith. If Douglas Adams could figure that out surely God has as well.

  • makindescene

    Hard to believe God gets involved with football. But He may have a sense of humor with the 316 numbers. After all behold the platypus, giraffe and Bill Maher.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UG44B3BSUSA2IKDMLCB2AMJ4OM Porkulus Chopius

    Remember Reggie White?

    The great Hall Of Fame Green Bay Packer held prayer sessions before and after each game in the end zone and invited players from both teams to attend. The sporting media complied by broadcasting these sessions as inspiring.Reg was an ordained minister (tax purposes?) and the sporting media loved him, honoring his faith and his play at the same time.Why does Tebow and his open display of faith bother them so much? Connect the dots.Do I get an Amen?

    • Jvette

      I believe the hate for Tim Tebow began with his anti abortion message. His mother was advised to abort him because her pregnancy could be dangerous to her life, but she chose to continue the pregnancy and deliver Tim. The rest as they say is history.

      The Tebow family have used Tim’s success on the football field, not for their own aggrandizement, but to give glory to God. They are defenders of life and that is what really irks the haters.

    • jim_m

      Tebow is White, Male and Christian.  Those are the three things that the media KNOWS are fair game for any level of hatred, bile and slander.  If his skin were brown and he was a muslim declaring that women should all where burkas no one in the media would say a single negative word about him.

  • Commander_Chico

    Well, the Jesuits usually have answers worth considering. 

  • jim_m

    God does not care about the outcome of a football game.  However, He has an acute sense of Irony. 

  • http://www.ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

    More fun with numbers:

    The former Dodger third baseman Ron Cey hit 316 career home runs.

    In his final year, the great Ted Williams hit .316.

    Cy Young had 316 career losses to go along with his 511 wins.

    Hans Lobert (who?) had 316 career stolen bases, just one above Brady Anderson.

    Nelson Louis “Chicken” Hawks (b. 1896, d. 1973) had a career batting average of .316.

    In 2002, Curt Schilling recorded 316 strikeouts.

    Greg Maddux has a career ERA of 3.16.

    At the age of 23, San Diego Padres pitcher Randy Jones finished the 1973 season with a 3.16 ERA, and was named to the Topps Rookie All Star Team.

    ..and that’s just from the MLB.

    So then, what does all this 316 stuff with Tim Tebow mean?  Well, people can read into it what they want, I guess.  All I know is that one was fantastic pass, and one REALLY SHORT overtime.  It was a pretty good game.  Do people really need to fight about this one?  

    PS: That’s a good point about Reggie White, by the way, Mr Chopius.

    • http://www.brutallyhonest.org Rick Rice

      Let me get this straight Ryan… you’re basically surmising that the 316 numbers have as much relevance to Cy Young, Hans Lobert, Ted Wiliams, Ron Cey and the others as those numbers do to Tebow, especially when in the course of a single game, they came up 3 different times?

      Okeydoke…

      Someone else asked and I’ll do so again… what exactly are the odds of such an occurrence?

      • http://www.ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

        “Let me get this straight Ryan… you’re basically surmising that the 316 numbers have as much relevance…”

        Look Rick, I have no beef here.  I posted a bunch of baseball references to 316 for fun.  As for the Tebow/316 thing, again, people are going to read into this what they wish.  Some may think it’s a sign from the creator, and others might think it’s a nifty numerical coincidence.  I don’t really think this is an issue that necessitates any big debates or fights.  If this occurrence has a deep significance for you, more power to you.

        • http://www.brutallyhonest.org Rick Rice

          No deep significance for me Ryan… but I think there’s a deeper significance in your comments, comments I took to be ridicule, and sensing that, you attempt to walk it back… yea, I see some significance, but not necessarily what you think it might be…

          • http://www.ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            My comment wasn’t meant to ridicule at all–I basically agreed with the Anchoress when she wrote: “Everyone will believe what they like, and we’re all free to.”  Yep.  That’s why I wrote “people can believe what they want” in my first comment, and “people are going to read into this what they wish” in the second.The number 316 can be found all over the place, if people are looking for it.  That was my point with all the MLB references.  The meaning of those numbers is a personal matter.  To some, it’s just a number.  To others it has potential deeper meanings and significance (because of John 3:16 of course).  Some people might think it was divine intervention that led Ted Williams to hit .316 in his last year in the bigs–others might just think it was a solid average to wrap up an amazing career.  The difference between those two views is a matter of faith.  In short, the perceived relevance of the number 316 (in NFL or MLB stats) boils down to personal belief.  So it goes.  I don’t really see the point in making a big argument about any of it.

            As for Tebow, considering all of the anti-Tebow people who get all worked up about his public expressions of faith, I think the 316 occurrence is both humorous and ironic.

          • http://www.brutallyhonest.org Rick Rice

            I’m not aware that of the personal significance of the number 316 to those you listed Ryan… maybe you can help me with some links or something… there is documented evidence of the significance of that number to Tebow, which in my view makes your comments ridiculous… and I mean that word as in ridicule-ous…

          • http://www.ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            This is why it’s basically pointless to even try to have any sort of conversation with you. Stop being so difficult.  I have said more than once that I don’t think this is an issue to make a big fight about.  I agree with what the Anchoress said: people are free to believe what they wish.  Yet, you’re still trying to read into my comments and find hidden meanings and underlying ridicule.  Sorry, it’s not there.  Get over it.  If the Tebow thing has meaning for you (or anyone else) that’s your right and prerogative.  More power to you.  

            Some people will see the number 316 and associate it with John 3:16 etc.  Others just see a number.  The MLB stats were just examples of the occurrence of 316 in other sports stats.  People are free to believe whatever they want about those stats as well, or not. 

            Of course the number has personal meaning for Tebow, which is what makes this news story both interesting and ironic.  In the end, whether or not people believe that Tebow’s 316 day has deeper religious meaning is a matter of faith and belief.  As the Anchoress said, they are free to do so.  I really do not see the point of arguing about it.

            If you want to keep trying to manufacture a fight from this, look elsewhere.

          • http://www.brutallyhonest.org Rick Rice

            Sorry I hurt your feelings Ryan… I’ll try harder to remember your hypersensitivity, your desire not to have your assertions questioned and treat you in a way that better corresponds to your feelings…

            Sigh…

          • http://www.ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            “Sorry I hurt your feelings Ryan…”

            When did that happen?  Rick, you’re not making any sense.

            “I’ll try harder to remember your hypersensitivity…”

            Uh…ok.  Where do you even get this stuff from?  I think it’s funny that I’m basically saying this isn’t some big issue to get all worked up about, and you’re telling me that I’m being hypersensitive.  Funny.  What, exactly, do you think I’m being “hypersensitive” about?

            “your desire not to have your assertions questioned and treat you in a way that better corresponds to your feelings…”

            You can question my assertions and challenge me all you want.  Go for it.  Tell me, what assertions of mine do you think you’re questioning here?  My assertion that people can believe what they want?  My assertion that the meaning of the whole 316 thing is a matter of faith?  That this whole issue is pretty pointless to argue about?

            The only problem here, as far as I can tell, is that you are once again playing the amateur psychiatrist and trying to make assumptions about the “deeper significance” of my comments.  Do yourself a favor and quit while you’re behind.  Drop the mind reading.  Either deal with what I actually write, or don’t.  But quit making up what *you think* I’m saying and arguing against that.  If you keep up with this nonsense, don’t expect another response.  If you can reply with some sort of question, point, or assertion, I’m game to discuss whatever you want.  Cheers.

          • http://www.brutallyhonest.org Rick Rice

            I detest dishonesty… and you’re reeking of it…  your comments were meant to ridicule and you don’t have the testicles to admit it…  have no respect for that Ryan.

            None.

          • http://www.ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            No.  Rick, you have misinterpreted my comment, and you keep refusing to listen to anything I am saying.  I know what my motivations were, and you don’t get to tell me what I was “really” thinking.  The comment was lighthearted, and the point was basically that people are going to read into/believe what they want with stuff like this.  Some are going to adamantly say it’s all just numbers, and others will attach deeper meanings.  Whatever.  No big deal, and not worth making a big fuss about.  That was my intention, take it or leave it.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Tebow himself scoffs at the notion God is intervening on the field.  He just feels like he should thank God for all his blessings frequently and publicly. 

    I think the difference in the reception given Reggie White’s ministry in and after the NFL and Tebow’s witnessing now is more indicative of the rapid decline of the culture.  It is more acceptable than ever to mock and disparage Christianity. 

    Given the respect accorded various religions these days, the problem Christians and Jews have is we just don’t blow people up in the name of religion.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7YIUZMXOD5JGZZTCYMVA75KFU Shadow

       Very nice summation of the situation.  I cannot understand why people are unable to understand this.  Perhaps they do and want to spin it to their advantage.

  • Wild_Willie

    Through it all. Through all the discussions, even this one. Through all the exposed hate some people have for God and Christians. Through the complexities of how Tebow prays and for what, the country is talking about GOD. Now that is GOD working. ww

  • Jvette

    God works in mysterious ways….helping Tim Tebow win a football game; but
    not helping all the starving African kids, or stopping wars, or curing
    disease…”

    People of faith do these things. That is what God asks of us, feed the hungry, be peacemakers, comfort the sick, visit the imprisoned etc….

    It is not that God has more interest in a football game, but that God may use whatever He has created to bring people to faith in Him so that they will bring His love to others.

    Was the hand of God in that game? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter other than Tim Tebow is an inspiration to others and if some find faith or deepen their faith because of him, then I imagine that is the answer to Tim’s prayers.

  • Wild_Willie

    ‘God works in mysterious ways’ is not anywhere to be found in the Bible. It is an implied interpretation of many scriptures. ww

    • jim_m

      It’s the lead to a hymn by William Cowper:

      God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform;
      He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

      Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill,
      He treasures up his bright designs and works his sovereign will.

      You fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread
      Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

      His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
      The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

      Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan his work in vain:
      God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain.

  • TomInCali

    Just remember that for every person who prays and wins, there are others who pray and lose. But articles aren’t written about them.