Tim Tebow: II


Am sitting in room 203 of a Best Western, about to go to bed after a thrilling night at the nearby Dollar Tree.

I’ve received a ton of comments, RE: my Tim Tebow post. I’d say it’s pretty split—50% agree with my take, 50% think I’m an anti-Christian hater.

The correct answer: Hmm … not sure.

In all seriousness, I’d like to elaborate a bit on what I wrote. First, I do appreciate all the feedback, especially from those who don’t agree. The comments were, mostly, very respectful and well-stated.

That said, after reading several points against my post, I still have to say that missionary work—while perhaps done with a warm heart—is sinister. I’m not talking about when, say, a town is hit by a tornado and people respond with food and clothing. What I’m referring to—what I’m directly referring to—is when a group of religious people travel somewhere (usually, it seems, in matching T-shirts with goofy slogans like IT’S MOD TO LOVE GOD!) in a concerted effort to get people to “see the light”—oftentimes in underdeveloped parts of the world where people are easily sold and/or, in their poverty, looking for an answer (a former colleague of mine terms this “cultural genocide.” I must agree).

Readers asked, “What’s the difference between a Christian stating his beliefs and me (Jeff Pearlman) stating mine right here?” Well, the differences are many:

A. I’m not trying to sell anything. I don’t care if people reading this share my view or not; or wind up dumping religion or accepting the magic Twinkie as a savior. A missionary, however, is—undeniably—selling something. Which leads to point B …

B. When it comes to religion, you can’t know, with 100% certainty, that you’re right. You just can’t. And if you do, you’re either:

• Crazy.

• Not very bright.

• A post-rehab celebrity.

Think about it. Religion is all about faith. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure (I tend to think of faith as the noose religion leaders tie around the necks of their flock. If something good happens, “See, faith!” If something bad happens, “Now is the time we need to turn to faith!”). But faith should not be a certainty. It can be a strong feeling. Even a really, really, really strong feeling. But it’s not 100 percent. Nobody can know—without question—that their religion is correct. They just can’t, based on the convolution that is history and the various religious texts. Again, they can be pretty darn steadfast. They can even “feel it in their hearts.” But there has to be some doubt, because, well, life includes doubt.

Hence, you’re either crazy/not smart/a post-rehab celeb, or you have even a teeny, tiny sliver of doubt. And if you have a teeny, tiny sliver of doubt, how can you preach your religion to, say, the Sudanese with complete and total certainty? (And, once again, those who have no doubt whatsoever truly scare me. I mean, in a huge way. They’re the people who occupied Jonestown; the people who fly planes into buildings; the people who will take any action as long as they believe God told them to).

As for me, I’ve never said I’m 100-percent right. Oftentimes, I’m 100-percent wrong.

But here, with this issue, I feel pretty confident.

Final thought: This actually isn’t about Christianity, and I feel crappy that it came out that way. This is about organized religion, and the myriad ways it seems to butcher things. Hell, when it comes to Jesus, sans the church and the interpretations and the holidays, I’m a huuuuge fan. I don’t believe he was the messiah (Truthfully, I’m not even sure he existed), but I love how he walked with the sinners; how he felt genuine pain for the suffering; how he cared more for others than himself. That’s a wonderful, beautiful, important message.

And people seem intent on screwing it up.

PS: I received a few letters from people urging me to “stick to sports.” Sorry, but I can’t do it. On my passion/interest list, the rankings go: 1. Politics; 2. Religion; 3. Sports; 4. Roberto Kelly statistical analysis.

15 thoughts on “Tim Tebow: II”

  1. “But I love how he walked with the sinners; how he felt genuine pain for the suffering; how he cared more for others than himself. That’s a wonderful, beautiful, important message.”

    By all accounts, doesn’t Tebow do the same?

    Also, in regards to knowing: Pascal’s Wager.

    Like you, I know that I can never be sure, and that leads me to be more atheist than theist. But Pascal’s Wager comes with some fairly ironclad logic.

  2. Jeff–

    Very nice post. My thoughts exactly.

    A side note–the logic of Pascal’s Wager is actually pretty poor since it assumes that godlessness is a loss and that salvation can be achieved by de rigueur game theory. Paradoxically by choosing “belief in God” because “it’s the smart money move” you’re undermining the concept of Christian faith which demands blind adherence, not Doubting Thomasdom.

    Or something like that.

  3. Very generous of you, Jeff. I “get” what you’re saying, and largely agree with it. That said, I’d devide it into two groups (and this holds true throughout history):

    1. Those who truly BELIEVE and follow their belief 100-percent (or as best as they humanly can). They are mostly inexperienced and ill-informed (on a local AND global scale); e.g., ignorance; (see the common Tim Tebow-esque youth missionary; that standard, mid-American Southern Baptist)

    2. Those who may believe, but really use the religious beliefs to justify a political agenda (even if they don’t admit to themselves it’s a political agenda)…the religious manupulators (of the self or of others); e.g., Bush and his cronies.

    I’m not sure which is better and more defensible: utter ignorance or self-interest-based selectivity (in appplication and enforcement).

    Both are sad.

    Thanks for the post…

  4. “Paradoxically by choosing “belief in God” because “it’s the smart money move” you’re undermining the concept of Christian faith which demands blind adherence, not Doubting Thomasdom.

    Or something like that.”

    Though, really, are more than 15% of practicing Christians (or believers in God) even aware of Pascal’s Wager?

  5. The Pride of Curry

    If you’d have simply stated “Organized religion bothers me,” you’d have had a friend in me. I’m a big fan of God/Jesus. Not so much people telling me I’m burning in hell for watching the Falcons on a Sunday.

  6. Shouldn’t your passion/interest list include your death obsession? You may not like that it is a passion/interest, but it is definitely there.

  7. According to your epistemology, nobody can know anything with 100% certainty, since any weighting of facts requires one first to have faith in either 1) his own observations or 2) the observations/statements of others. Not that I’m disagreeing, just wanted to point it out.

  8. Once again, you do exactly what you claim not- claim 100% certianty that mission work is “sinster” and basing that judgment on people claiming to be 100% certian.

    No doubt someone will use the 3 blind men describing an elephant to illustrate religion. You know how it goes- one says it’s a thick animal (based on the leg) and one a snake like animal (based on the tail) and one flat and thin (based on the ear). That someone the wisely says “See they are all right and all wrong. That’s religion. No one sees it all.”. There’s just one problem . . .

    The person telling the story assumes full knowledge of the elephant in order to judge the results. They claim the very knowledge they proclaim impossible.

    You can’t be certian it’s wrong to evangelize because it’s wrong to be certian.

  9. Also- you seem to attribute radicalism to only religous people. Hitler was pretty ‘certian. So was Stalin and Mao. More people were killed in the 20th century by their atheist goverments than anything else. (Those uninterested in civil dialouge and debate and want to resort to rhetoric- save your ‘Hitler/ Nazis was/were Christian!’ comments. It’s one of those things that preaches well but has the unfortunate trait of just not being true.)

  10. Not that it especially matters, since your comment was pretty meaningless, but on what basis do you argue, Greg P, that Hitler and the Nazi’s were not Christians?

    Not that all Christians are fascists, necessarily…

  11. Isn’t the point of most religions the salvation and how to get to heaven? Well, as far as I can tell, I’ve never met anyone that has died, been to a heaven, and then came back and said, “Wow. Those Muslims got it right!” or “Yep. Jesus was the only way.” We have never met anyone who did die and came back to tell us who got it right. So, no one religion really knows.

  12. Have you ever thought about actually going on a mission trip with say, Tim Tebow, observing actions and words, then come back and blog about that?
    Might be interesting for all of us, you included.

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