Artur Davis: Rebuttal #1
I’m a Tim Tebow fan–I like his tenacity, and his ability to consistently turn ridicule and derision into motivational points, and I think its good for football that he shows a path to win without the conventional quarterback’s skill set. He’s an underdog who makes good–that itself makes him a legitimate role model.
I’m untroubled by the intensity of his faith; actually, as a Deep South native, I don’t even find it terribly eventful. I come from a culture where the kids in the high school football game pray not just to avoid injury, but to win, and to let their individual talent shine, and see nothing sacrilegous about asking God to be a football fan for an evening.
But I recognize that there is a major segment of the national community that hasn’t seen Tebow style faith in action, certainly not by a pro athlete, certainly not by a 24 year old who is about to become fabulously rich and famous. If you are a conservative, its all good. The fact is that evangelical Christianity can use a voice that is conservative and relentlessly congenial and optimistic at the same time; its a helpful thing, that his faith seems as engaged with compassion for disabled children as it is with the pro-life life movement that he has embraced.
I do think there is a class of liberals who will find Tebow threatening for roughly the same reasons. Its hard to make a bogeyman out out of fundamentalism if Tebow is one of its most conspicuous public faces; that means by extension, that its a little harder to type-cast some of Tebow’s positions as mean-spirted, or hateful. Not all culture warriors are right-wingers; some are on the left, and for them, Tebow’s judgmental but upbeat religiosity is a dangerous foe.
I share Jonathan’s sense that the upside to Tebow wins out. Maybe, as Jonathan suggests, Tebow reminds us that evangelical doctrine has a powerful charitable tradition; maybe, he reminds conservatives that this tradition is genuine and not some artifice to garner support for liberal economic policies. Maybe Tebow reminds all of us that arguments over values don’t have to be food-fights; that there are decent, thoughtful people who don’t deserve to be denigrated on both sides of the cultural divide on abortion, gay rights, immigration reform. Maybe, and this is really ambitious thinking, Tebow even reminds the left that a conservative world view is not some intolerant caricature.
Its all a lot to put on a young adult who is bound to stumble. But then again, I used to think he couldn’t beat the blitz or read tight zone coverage.