Public displays

Not of affection, but of religion. I stumbled on the recent hubbub over an American football player, Tim Tebow, who likes to pray a lot during a game. A fan decided his pose was one for the internet meme world, and started a hilarious website called “Tebowing” where people pose in the same style (like “The Thinker”). Now part of the joke is that you are doing this while everyone else around you is doing their normal thing… like playing a football game, or in the case of the internet meme people, a wide variety of things to various degrees of hilarity.

The problem is, at the moment there is a contingent of the American public and press who are pretty upset about the fact that two players in last week’s opposing side also struck the Tebowing pose when they had managed to get on the right side of defensive plays where Tebow was humiliated. See articles here and here. The quarterback himself seems to be generally in good spirits about the entire thing, and is not the one criticizing the opposing players.

Now I, as I said, find this amusing and was hoping to find a friend to join in the fun and do some photographs in front of major English landmarks to submit to the site. I have a few ideas as to which of my American-in-the-UK friends might be up for this sort of chicanery! But I also have really strong feelings about the entire phenomenon. Whenever religious expression supposedly involves very public actions, I cringe a bit. I consider religion or spirituality to be a very personal thing. I consider prayer, especially, to be a very personal thing. So this kneeling in the end zone thing is something that I would typically consider affectatious and for the benefit of the observers, not related to the spiritual interior of the person putting on the show. But interestingly enough, in America, and especially in American football, this is a widely accepted practice. This is one of those places where I’m more comfortable in my local environment than in my native one. Maybe I really am becoming European.

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3 responses to “Public displays

  1. That is an interesting idea: how public should we be in our displays of religion? While I haven’t heard of this “Tebowing” thing, it sounds like something I probably wouldn’t have courage to do myself, as it might invite snickers. However, many Christians show their faith overtly just so that other people will talk, as a kind of witness. If it brings this kind of reaction, though, is it doing any good? Perhaps someone will be inspired by his passion and courage and ask questions about his faith.

  2. Strangely enough, the idea of religion as a private, personal thing to be kept between yourself and the deity of your choice really came about with the Protestant Reformation. It’s interesting that a country founded by Protestants (and Puritans, no less) has embraced the exact opposite of this principle despite the fact that a lot of Americans still feel a bit uncomfortable whenever someone flaunts their religion in front of us. It’s just paradoxical.

  3. This is gonna sound kinda convoluted, but my cousin’s best friend dated Tim Tebow’s best friend, so my cousin has actually met and associated with Tim. Tim is actually a very Christian person, very involved with The Fellowship for Christian Athletes, and all around a pretty nice guy. It actually doesn’t surprise me from what I have heard about his personality that he laughed off the “Tebowing”. He seems pretty down to Earth and knows not everyone is gonna get his brand of faith. And I am with you when it comes to faith, very personal and I don’t flaunt it. To each their own though.

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