Tim Tebow and the Theology of Glory

Here is the problem with Tim Tebow. The focus of the discussion is squarely on him. It is rarely, if ever, on Christ. I am not trying to nitpick. I am trying to examine why the whole thing is bothering me, when I should probably be thankful that there is a Christian in a place of prominence in an otherwise shady sports world. And it is true that Tebow is a fine athlete and a strong leader. But the media narrative is troubling. The whole story is about Tim. It is not about the Gospel. It is not about sin and redemption. It is always about what he said or what he did. It is never about Jesus.

Some people might suggest that Tebow cannot control what ESPN says about him. That is true up to a point. He cannot control what Mike Patrick says while calling a game, but he can control media access to his activity. He could keep the cameras away while he is ministering in a prison. He could ask his parents to take down that lengthy biography of Timmy on the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association website. He could quit referring to his teammates as “my players.” And frankly, with all of the media attention, he could just once state that his good works are utterly worthless in the sight of God. He could explain to all of the fans and the media that his noble work in the third world and here in America – and his work is quite noble – is completely and utterly worthless in the sight of God. He could say that if someone’s life is changed by being around him, it is only because of the work of Christ, and not of Tim Tebow. He could say that his only claim is the blood of Jesus, and that it, whatever “it” is, is not about teaching kids to do the right thing. It is not about being positive or setting a good example. It is about God made man in the person of Christ and his death on the cross. Please do not tell me the media will not allow it. This young man his won two national championships and a Heisman Trophy, and might win one more of each. He has the forum. All he needs to do is use it.

I wish Tim Tebow well. I hope he succeeds in all he does, except of course when Florida plays Alabama in next year’s SEC Championship game. I hope others are in fact drawn to Christ through this discussion, but I cannot deny that this whole thing leaves me uneasy. Until Tebow and his family and his support cast are crystal clear – just once – that Tim Tebow (and the rest of us, as well) know no righteousness but the blood of Christ, then he is, with all good intentions, promoting a Gospel that is off the mark. And in an age of the Secret and the Shack and Joel Osteen, we must be plain and up front in declaring a theology of the Cross, and not a theology of Glory.


The Death of American Music

Sometimes I feel like my life is a cliché. Here it is, a Saturday morning, and I am washing dishes while drinking strong coffee and listening bebop. The album is Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder. I remember thinking it was cool to be obsessed with Miles and Coltrane and then Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Then I moved forward with hard bop from the mid 1960s, men like Morgan and Horace Silver and Wayne Shorter. That’s where I was two years ago and now my dog is outside barking in time with the drums on the record. These days my jazz fixation revolves around Blossom Dearie and scratchy New Orleans jazz like Jelly Roll Morton and Ma Rainey. There was that brief period before World War II when jazz and blues and country were almost indistinguishable, when American music was fresh and breathtaking. I think that continued for a long while into the 1960s, but after Woodstock it seemed to only come in spurts. There is a reason so many people still love Springsteen. When he appeared in the 1970s, he pulled classic rock away from its trashy tendencies and captured something distinctive about the American experience. He did it with an obviously working class bent, but it has never been so over the top as to be alienating. But since Springsteen and, maybe, R.E.M., there has been no American music worth carrying around. The most interesting people you will meet – and I include many of my friends in this group – are those who have given up chasing new talent and are instead digging through stacks of albums by Americans both great and obscure, and almost all of them dead or nearing retirement age (the Boss and Bob Dylan being two obvious exceptions). It seems as though rock and roll, country, blues and jazz have all reached some sort of climax and are, like classical music, stuck in a boring period of repetition. I am not sure what the cure is, but at least I have Lee Morgan and Gram Parsons to keep me satisfied in the meantime.

Facebook’s problems

The great thing about websites like Facebook is that you can get in touch with old friends and people you have not spoken to in ten years. The bad thing about websites like Facebook is that you can get in touch with people you have not spoken to in ten years. I have always loved staying in touch with people when I am separated by great distances, but I have always enjoyed developing a life and personality apart from some of these same people. Like George Constanza, I really value my worlds, and I do not like it when they collide. And if Facebook is anything, it is lots of world colliding. All the time. Every day.

For example, a friend from high school has been after me to join a group he set up for my graduating class. It was a timely gesture; our ten year reunion is this spring. I have yet to join, despite his gracious pleading. I cannot say why I have yet to do so. For the most part I enjoyed high school. It was not bad. But looking back, it was not particularly good. All I can say about it, to paraphrase former Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga when Nick Saban ditched him for my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, is that it (high school) was what it was. I had to be there. I learned things. I made some friends. Most of us have moved on to other things, though I am not so sure that those things are bigger or better.

Why not join the Facebook group? Simply put, I do not want to live in the past. Oh but you say it could not hurt to meet up with old classmates. Maybe it will not hurt. But why bother? It is the past, and it was not particularly pleasant. No, it was not awful. It certainly was not, and it was in high school that I met two of my best friends. But we are still friends and I can keep up with them with little effort. As for the dozens of other people I have hardly seen since I walked off the football field at graduation…why bother? Life has moved on, and Facebook be cursed for asking me to relive eleventh grade.