December 23, 2011

Tebow or not Tebow

Although I have stopped following football, I have been intrigued by the story of Denver quarterback Tim Tebow who frequently drops to one knee in prayer during games (this act of genuflection has even acquired the label 'to Tebow' or 'Tebowing') and even has biblical verses painted on his face. So much for Jesus's admonition "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-6)

Of course, such ostentatious displays of piety cry out for parody and Saturday Night Live duly obliges.


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If you've not read it before, back in 2003 Roger Ebert accurately described the issue as vertical prayer versus horizontal prayer. Vertical prayer is spoken privately intended for the mythical "god" the prayer believes in. Horizontal prayer is done in public to show off and/or intimidate those hearing it and not participating (re: the Santa Fe high school football lawsuit).

The original item cannot be found on the Chicago Sun Times website, but a copy exists here:

"This simple insight about two kinds of prayer, which is beyond theological question, should bring a dead halt to the obsession with prayer in public places. It doesn't, because the purpose of its supporters is political, not spiritual. Their faith is like Dial soap: Now that they use it, they wish everyone would. I grew up in an America where people of good breeding did not impose their religious convictions upon those they did not know very well. Now those manners have been discarded."

He revisited the theme again this summer after Rick Perry's political rally that was dressed up as a church service.


Posted by P Smith on December 24, 2011 10:31 AM