Since I last wrote about him, Tim Tebow has risen from his position as third-string quarterback to successful starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, having engineered five straight victories to pull his team into a tie for first place in its division. He has pulled off several "miraculous" finishes, bringing his team from behind to win, in the process setting the NFL basically on fire and even leading some writers to question their atheism. Tim, of course, is a devout evangelical Christian; in college, he wrote the names and numbers of bible verses on the eye-black tape he wore during games. This is not allowed in the NFL, a fact which, as we shall see, is merely one of the affronts to his faith that the league forces Tim to bear in order to play football.
Tim and his fellow Christians may wonder at my choice of verses, but I believe that such a rich source of utter nonsense should be mined with an eye to the truly weird, of which there is plenty in the well-known chapters, but there is ever more esoteric weirdness the deeper you dig. This week I have chosen a selection from Ezekiel, chapter 13, where God has denounced and is threatening those who "prophecy out of their own minds."
The King James version:
18 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly."Now this concerns me immediately; Tim, in all the games he plays in, is clearly wearing shoulder pads, probably sewn together by poor women in a third-world country. And while Tim might not "prophecy out of his own mind," he does give instructions to his teammates based on radio signals heard inside his helmet. And since the NFL mandates the wearing of shoulder pads, as well as radio-equipped helmets, this is clearly another case of the league suppressing Tim's faith.
And let's not forget that he was drafted and forced to play in Denver, the mile-high city, perilously close to God's domain as was the Tower of Babel.
But wait--maybe there's a Biblical solution!
We are fortunate that God's chosen punishment for building a tower too high was to scatter the tongues of men into a multitude of mutually unintelligible languages. This, of course, allows us to consult multiple subjective translations of God's Holy Word when we need guidance, which gives us the wiggle room often required to justify our actions before Him. So let's try the Revised Standard Version of the same verses:
18 and say, Thus says the Lord GOD; Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people, and keep other souls alive for your profit?
19 You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death persons who should not die and keeping alive persons who should not live, by your lies to my people, who listen to lies.
20 Wherefore thus says the Lord GOD: behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls that you hunt go free like birds.
Oh...oh no...magic wristbands?
I will predict, here and now, that unless Tim stops wearing the special wristband that tells him which play to call in the huddle, the Broncos, while they may make the playoffs, will never get past the Baltimore Ravens.
And lastly, a bit of football talk to answer a couple of potential questions: 1) Is Timmy actually working miracles these days? And 2) was I wrong about Tim Tebow?
Answers: 1)No, and 2) no. Tim Tebow played quarterback for four years at the University of Florida, which competes in the Southeastern Conference (widely acknowledged as the best conference in the nation), won two national championships and a Heisman trophy. One professional team thought he was worth a first-round pick, and others saw him as a potential starting quarterback. It's really not a stretch, the idea that he might be successful in the NFL.
Those who thought he wouldn't be successful were almost entirely concerned with the way he throws a football; he has a long, loopy windup that takes an extra fraction of a second to get the ball in the air. That extra fraction of a second to react is important to defensive players at the level of professional football. It can, however, be compensated for, and doesn't matter much at all when your receivers are as wide open as Tim's guys were last Sunday in Minnesota. And when your defense is playing as well as Denver's is, you get multiple chances to make that big play/put together that great drive to win the game.
And he does compete. He will keep coming after it, and if, as one sports talk radio host said, you dangle victory out in front of him like a carrot long enough, he's going to grab it.
It's not magic, people. It's football. And Tim Tebow is a football player. If the balls he throws start growing little wings and shit in the air, and they show up on instant replay, I'll stand corrected. In the meantime, I'm willing to give him some credit for his football skill. As for spreading a religion that teaches children that people like me burn in hell for eternity, and that we deserve this for failing to believe an uncorroborated story about a guy who did impossible stuff 2000 years ago, not so much.