Does Jesus Have a Quarterback Rating?

Full disclosure: I am a Chicago Bears fan, and I am still hurting from the Bears 13-10 loss in overtime to the Denver Broncos. So I am not too happy with Tim Tebow right now. (Although, I did like him when he played for the Florida Gators, but that’s probably because I was a fan of Urban Meyer and the Gators.)

Yesterday, I read a wall post on Glenn Beck’s Facebook page:

I don’t know anything about sports. And I don’t presume to know everything God’s currently working on. But here’s what I do know: more people are thinking about God today because of Tim Tebow. Not because he’s winning games – but because he’s a man of unusually exceptional character & a Godly man. We need more like him!

 At first glance, I have to agree with what Mr. Beck had to say (which, again in the interest of full disclosure, never sits well with me). We do need more people like Tim Tebow who love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and all their mind. (Mt 22: 37) Indeed, as the psalmist says, “Let all the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you.” (Psalm 67)

But we also need more people who love their neighbor as themselves (Mt 22: 39), and recognize the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized as their neighbors: “Amen, I say to to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25: 40)

What I find interesting about the attention given to Tim Tebow’s public expression of his faith, is this: Why does it take the public display of a celebrity’s faith to encourage us in ours?

Why do we not pay attention God’s presence in the love between husband and wife, between mother and child? Why do we not pay attention to God’s presence in the sympathy expressed between brothers? Why do we not pay attention to God’s presence in the compassion of a nurse when she comforts someone who was just diagnosed with cancer? Why do we not see God’s presence in the pure joy of a dog’s wagging tail?

We ignore the simple and the mundane. We seem to prefer to celebrate those with high status, fame, and wealth. We prefer celebrity over humility. We prefer ostentatious displays of faith to remind of us God’s presence, while ignoring the ubiquitous signs of God’s love in life’s banality.

In one of St. Francis’ prayers, he says, “Pure and holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the body.” (A Salutation of the Virtues) If we keep our eyes looking up to those of high station, we will be disappointed, for they have other concerns:

One day the trees went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my rich oil, whereby gods and human beings are honored, and go off to hold sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ But the fig tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my sweetness and my sweet fruit, and go off to hold sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, reign over us.’ But the vine answered them, ‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods* and human beings, and go off to hold sway over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ The buckthorn answered the trees, ‘If you are anointing me in good faith, to make me king over you, come, and take refuge in my shadow. (Judges 9: 8-15)

So let us not focus too much on Tim Tebow. Let us not crown another celebrity king. Rather, let us turn our hearts to the least among us, showing solidarity with the least of our brothers and sisters.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” (Mt 5: 5) Let us then imitate the meek and not Tim Tebow.

Will You Be My Friend?

A recent headline proclaimed that President Obama “friended” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

And I started thinking: How can we use social media to become instruments of peace in this world? All too often, we see people post their opinions and judgments on their Facebook walls or spread misinformation (sometimes intentional and sometimes not) via Twitter. Instead of useful dialogue designed to contribute to the common good, we have little more than children needling each other and hurling taunts across an ethereal playground.

But how does such communication facilitate dialogue? Do twits build respect for people who hold different opinions? How often do we listen to others, auditing ourselves to find the error in our “truth”? When we nail our judgments to the wall, are we trying to inflame passions or neutralize them? Are we acting in good faith, trying to collaborate with others, identifying the common ground upon which we stand in order to engender peace? How often do we use our posts to support efforts in facilitating honest and productive dialogue?

When we identify ourselves as belonging to a particular group, we necessarily identify those who do not belong: we call them “fascists” or “un-American;” “Republicans” or “Democrats.” They have become the Other, something to be feared, despised, or eradicated. Dialogue is the bridge to the Other, not so that we may eradicate them, but to understand them.

Wouldn’t it be cool if…

  • President Obama and Rush Limbaugh played golf together?
  • Bill Maher went on a fishing trip with Bill O’Reilly?
  • Stephanie Miller “friended” Anne Coulter?
  • Lady Gaga and Sandy Rios sang a duet at the Grammy’s?
  • Sarah Palin had something nice to say?

Of course, I am not above reproach, so, I decided to “friend” Glenn Beck.

That was a bitter pill to swallow. Fortunately, I had something good to wash it down with!

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