struggle, spirituality, absurdity

Why I feel sorry for Tebow

No, it’s not because he lost. Losing is part of playing, he had a great season, blah blah blah. I don’t really follow football – nothing against it, just doesn’t grab my attention.

I am concerned for him. He has, whether he meant to or not, become a very public image for American Christianity. Pop-Christianity has elevated him to “Christian Celebrity” status, which means that Sunday schools across the country now have a new hero to point the children to, pastors have another sermon illustration, and aspiring Christian athletes have another role-model.

And this is a problem.

Americans love celebrity. I imagine an embarrassingly large percentage of our time, attention, and money go to various elements of celebrity culture like a bunch of cats hitting the neighborhood catnip bong – aggressively and ferociously. American Christianity is no different, and it is really one of our more unique features. It is also extremely unhealthy.

Tebow has, unwittingly, been placed in an impossible situation. While Christians love to create faithful celebrities after whom we may follow, it also places an incredible amount of pressure on that poor soul. And we tend not to be very forgiving when that person messes up. Not “if,” but “when.” Remember how Mel Gibson was our hero when he Made Passion? One DUI and a few racial slurs later…

All that to say, it’s great to have people that inspire us. Please remember that Tebow is human, and when he says something stupid, has a moral lapse, or simply has a bad day and tells the cashier at the store what he thinks of her mis-priced beans in a very unambiguous way, lighten up. All our heroes are human.

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  1. I think you hit the nail on the head here, Eric. Don’t forget too though that non-Christian world loves to see a high profile Christian screw up. I feel sorry for him for the reasons you listed, but also because there are so many people waiting like hungry wolves for him to publicly slip.

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