Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Hero Rests!

Hey Dad,

It’s surreal. It doesn’t feel real. I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. And the journey is only just beginning. I’m heading to the United Kingdom to meet up with my brothers and sisters so we can begin the arrangements for your funeral! Just writing that phrase is hard, because you don’t typically bury the living. That means that you’re really gone. You really are dead. I feel abandoned. I feel orphaned. I don’t really know what I feel because the feelings change constantly from moment to moment. Grief hits me like the wash of a massive wave and then it gives way to a calm serenity. Then my brain goes into overdrive trying to figure out all the things that need to be done and who needs to do them. We always relied on you for that.

I’m not an expert at this since I’ve never buried a parent, so I’m not sure what expressions of emotion are appropriate. Is it okay to feel abandoned? Is it selfish to feel sorry for myself? Are my brothers and sisters hurting as much as I am? I don’t know the answers to these questions but I sure know that I’m experiencing all the emotions attendant to them. The selfish part of me wants you right here beside me, but the spiritual part of me realizes and rejoices in the fact that you are where I want to be: In the arms of our everlasting, ever-living, and ever-loving Father. Here’s something else I know: You were loved deeply. It’s good to be loved. It’s good to have friends and family that can help you keep the proper perspective. Yesterday I got a phone call from our dear friends Kola and Erejuwa, who live in England. He has lost both parents and she has lost her mum. They were such an encouragement to me. She shared a poem with me that really spoke to my heart, especially because you were a self-confessed Christ-follower.

The poem is simply and aptly titled What is Dying? And it goes like this:

A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon
And someone at my side says, “She is gone.”

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large now as when I last saw her.
Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says she is gone,
There are others who are watching her coming over their horizon,
And other voices take up a glad shout: There she comes!

That is what dying is. A horizon and just the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further!

I guess for now that will have to do! I’ll have to rely on the wonderful memories I have of you from this horizon. You were my hero in a day when true heroes are few and far between. I’m reminded of the Scripture that says, “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about those Christians who have died so you will not be sad, as others who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 13) That brings me tremendous comfort right now because I know the depth of that truth. I guess this will be my last letter to you, so say hi to Jesus for me and I'll see you when I get there.

Rest well mighty warrior, you’ve earned it! I look forward to seeing you on the other horizon. Always yours in love and hope.

Your Son,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Want Tim Tebow To Fail! (Part Grand Finale)

In order to grasp the full merit of this article I suggest you read the previous two posts first.

When did character come to mean so little in the psyche of American culture? When Bill Clinton was President of the United States, arguably the most powerful political position on earth, he displayed a gross lack of character when he cheated on his wife with an intern, publicly lied to cover it up, and cost the country millions of dollars in revenue spent on uncovering the truth. Bill Clinton’s support skyrocketed as people indignantly suggested that he be left alone to focus on the business of running the country (a lack of integrity and character not withstanding, nor the fact that he had perjured himself by lying under oath). While Clinton and his embattled wife cited a “vast right wing conspiracy” as the reason for the unmitigated persecution, the lead counsel for the prosecution, Ken Starr, was vilified in the press as being on a “witch hunt” and called all kinds of unrepeatable names.

So why do people dislike Tim Tebow so much? Has he displayed poor judgment as a student athlete or leader? Has he been arrested for a DUI, or armed robbery, or shoplifting? Has he raped anyone or gotten anyone pregnant and denied paternity? Has he cheated on exams, skipped class, or broken the law in any way? Has he lied to the NCAA, “violated team rules,” or been spotted at night clubs over-indulging himself? The answer to all these questions is a resounding no! But there are tons of athletes at every level who have been cited for all of these and more, yet they are still celebrated. And therein lies the problem. Tebow is too pristine for our entitled, overindulged, and perverse sensibilities. We would like nothing better than to discover that he is as flawed as the rest of us a la Tiger Woods. Pearlman and his kind have missed the boat on this one though. You see, we've never claimed that Christianity and perfection are interchangeable terms.

We are a nation that enjoys creating heroes and then destroying them. It makes us feel better about ourselves when we can point to those we celebrate and say, “He/She struggles with the same things I do and so they’re no better than me.” That’s why the Tiger Woods scandal was so newsworthy while myriad others live the same despicable and hypocritical lives every day, in anonymity. It’s hard to see how Tebow’s life, which is clearly committed to promoting good and serving the needy, can be considered dangerous, while others are out there scheming and plotting how to destroy everything and everyone that lives contrary to what they believe. Radical Islam has succinctly articulated the fact that their consuming passion is to ensure that the flag of Islam flies over the White House. They are committed to ridding the world of Christianity and have made it clear that no method is out of bounds, including murdering innocent people to ensure that their goal is met.

Yet Pearlman thinks Tebow is dangerous! Is Tebow a terrorist? Has he forced his faith on anyone? Since when did using your platform to promote your world view become a sin? Isn’t that exactly what advertisers do every single day when they bombard the airwaves with claims of their products being the best in the world even when they’re not? Are they dangerous too? Does Pearlman think he’s the smartest person in the world? I mean, how condescending and elitist must you be to suggest that you have greater insight than everyone else into Tebow’s motives for playing football, and they are not altruistic? He clearly gives no credence to the idea that other people have brains and are just as able to use them as he is his. If people don’t believe in what Tebow is “selling” then they don’t have to “buy” it. He’s not using guerilla tactics, or forcefully manipulating people into believing what he believes. He’s not even aggressively proselytizing on street corners, yet Pearlman thinks he’s brainwashing people, and so he wants him to fail. As a parent, I vehemently and vociferously disagree with Pearlman and his ilk.

Here’s what a few of Pearlman’s own readers had to say about his article:

“Wow, you’re such a bigot, and you call yourself liberal. I’m a liberal democrat and you are why we (are) losing power. You(’re) narrow-minded and don’t really care about free speech, you preach but you don’t practice. What if I said I want your kids to fail? You would blast me and call me out like you should.”

“Why would someone who disagrees with Tebow want him to fail? What’s the big deal if his success enables him to help more missionaries convert people in third-world countries? Don’t missionaries help more than they hurt?...And if they think I am going to hell, who cares—if I don’t believe it, why should I care? I am scared of Islamic Jihadists, not Tebow.”

“Frankly, I’m not sure I see the danger in a famous Tebow. He’s far from the first evangelical Christian to make it big in sports (ie: prayer huddles after games) and far from the first athlete to hold opinions which I disagree with. But aren’t people smart enough to make their own decisions? I find it hard to believe that somebody would decide to not get an abortion because a football player—or the parent of a football player, even—told them it was a sin.”

Like Tebow’s parents, I have a son playing D1 college football, and every time I read a comment about my son that is less than complimentary I bristle. Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly welcome constructive and objective criticism, but when the comments are simply unveiled insults that question a student-athlete’s heritage or upbringing, I certainly draw the line there. Over time however, I’ve come to realize that such comments don’t come from people who see our children as humans with feelings, but from indolent idiots who merely see them as commodities that provide a few hours of entertainment for them on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I’m learning not to let them get under my skin. I applaud Tim’s parents for having to deal with the pain and frustration of hearing and seeing their son vilified, derided, and second-guessed at every turn, but I also realize that there is a worthy reward for both him and them. The Scriptures say it like this:

“So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven.” (Jesus speaking in Matthew 10:32)

As it happens, Tebow was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick of the 2010 NFL draft (the first round no less) contrary to all the speculations and permutations of the so-called experts. Kudos to you Josh McDaniels, for recognizing the value of character as being equal to talent. You did it with Tom Brady in New England, and I’m confident you’ll do it with Tim Tebow in Denver. Oh, by the way, for those of you who’ve forgotten, Tom Brady, a high-character guy, played his college football as a back-up to Brian Griese, a high-talent guy, at Michigan. Hmmm, I wonder what their NFL careers reflected?! I’m just sayin’!! Now it’s your turn to weigh in on this conversation.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Want Tim Tebow To Fail! (Part deux)

(If you haven't read yesterday's post, I suggest you start there in order to make full sense of this three part article).

Pearlman is a respected sports writer who has contributed articles to Sports Illustrated. Would it be fair for me to say that, because I completely disagree with his world view and disavow his skewered article on Tim Tebow and Christianity, I want him to fail? If I did I would be quickly branded an intolerant Christian bigot. But Pearlman didn’t even miss a day of work or get reprimanded for his insensitive and baseless comments.

Or how about Pete Prisco’s armchair quarterbacking? He surmises that he is much smarter than the entire front office of the Denver Broncos since he has determined that they made a gross miscalculation by drafting Tebow in the first round of the NFL draft. We forget that Tebow won two National Championships and is the most successful, and arguably the best quarterback in college football history with more rushing touch downs scored in the vaunted SEC than the great Hershel Walker. How does Prisco figure that he lacks talent? Yet Prisco equates picking Tebow to being no different than taking the altar boy from the parish down the street because he’s a good kid. How asinine is that line of reasoning? Prisco’s true concerns about Tebow are revealed not in his contention that Tebow is a lesser quarterback than Cutler, but in his provocative statement, “Now they have Saint Timmy to fix things.”

Besides, is every successful Pro-Bowler in the NFL a first round pick? Was every single player who is heralded as a star today, a star from their high school and college days? Football isn’t arithmetic. As much as we pretend that we have analysts who are experts at what they’re talking about, there’s no accounting for human effort, will, commitment, and plain old hard work. How many people thought that the Oakland Raiders had made a mistake when they drafted Jamarcus Russell in 2007? Wasn’t he widely considered the most talented player in the draft that year and so was picked number one? If talent really does trump character, what happened to him? Or to Ben Roethlisberger? Or to Plaxico Burress? Or to Michael Vick? Or to Brandon Marshall? And the list is endless.

Prisco conveniently forgets that Plaxico is currently in prison…for issues of character. Michael Vick is on the long road back from prison…for issues of character. Marshall has been in trouble with the law numerous times for assaulting his girlfriend amongst various other misdemeanors, but, gosh he’s got talent so he should be allowed to stay in Denver regardless of how it negatively impacts the team or the locker room. Prisco’s selective amnesia conveniently forgets that though Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowl rings, he will still miss the first six games of the 2010 season and has lost the respect of his locker room…for issues of character (in ten months there have been two allegations of rape against him, and his idea of fun is allegedly hanging around night clubs with body guards).

We celebrate the Ray Lewises, the Steve McNairs, the Marvin Harrisons who all have murder charges or moral issues that have plagued them (and in McNair’s case led to his untimely and unfortunate death) simply because they are athletes, but we vilify the Tim Tebows simply because they are Christians? Go figure!

While we’re at it let’s not forget about Fred Toettcher! Fred likens Tebow’s family gathering as they watched the draft together to a "Nazi rally"!!! Seriously?! Simply because his all-white family gathered together in their home to enjoy the NFL draft? Pray tell, what would Fred call a gathering of all the black athletes with their all-black families (many of whom were shown on national TV)? Oh, I’m sorry, the token white guy who just happens to be their agent, making millions of dollars off them, makes their gatherings okay or somehow different from Tebow’s?

This Neanderthal way of thinking hardly hides the true intentions of men like Toettcher, Pearlman, and Prisco. These people are unabashedly bigots who despise what Tim Tebow represents and confidently professes. Imus (another radio show host) lost his job for stereotyping a team of female athletes. Toettcher has not even received a single negative comment regarding his incendiary and thoughtless statements. The tables have been turned when no one was looking, and now talent trumps character so that our entitled culture can be duly entertained on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Want Tim Tebow To Fail!

Okay, so maybe the title of this blog is a little dramatic, but I had to get your attention somehow right?! Anyway, even though the title is far from the way I feel, it isn’t that far fetched for so many others out there. You see, this was actually the title of Jeff Pearlman’s blog written back in February 2010. Specifically, Pearlman said:

“But I want Tim Tebow to fail. I want a team to draft him in the sixth round, then I want him to report to training camp, throw a bunch of dying quails and be cut. I don’t want him physically injured; hell, I don’t even want him to live anything but a happy life. But I want him to fail in the NFL nonetheless, because a famous Tim Tebow is a dangerous Tim Tebow.

Tim Tebow scares me, and—judging from his father’s website, his upcoming Super Bowl ad and mounting knowledge of his way of life—he should scare you too. Tim Tebow doesn’t play football merely for the joy of the game. He plays football because he wants to spread the word of Jesus Christ. But not merely spread it. He wants you to accept it and, if you don’t embrace it, he wants you to think again about embracing it. And if you still don’t embrace it, he wants you to think again. And again. And again. If, in the end, you’re still not sold, you will burn in hell. This is not merely Tim Tebow’s opinion—but he knows it, in his soul and heart and mind. Christians who accept Jesus will spend an eternity in bliss. Those who don’t are doomed.”

My issues with this gross oversimplification and misrepresentation of both Tebow and the Gospel message are myriad, but for now I’ll ignore them and focus on the issues of Pearlman and various other people who desire to see Tebow fail. More recently a Boston sports-radio host, Fred Toettcher, said concerning Tebow’s draft party at home, “It looked like some kind of Nazi rally….So lily white is what I’m trying to say. Yeah, Stepford Wives.” Pete Prisco, a senior writer for said this:

“When you trade away Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler, the key components in the Broncos passing game in a year span, and then draft Tim Tebow in the first round of the draft, you are sending a loud message.
Talent doesn’t matter.
Character does.
Why not pick the altar boys from the parish down the street? Aren’t they good kids? Or maybe you can pick all the “A” students in this draft?
It doesn’t matter if they can play: Just make sure they are good “yes men.” It just doesn’t make sense….Nobody in their right mind would ever say that Tebow plays the position better than Cutler. But Cutler was shipped out for being a bad boy.
Now they have Saint Timmy to fix things.”

What do you perceive when you read these kinds of posts? Do you still think America is a Christian nation? Do you still think Christians are the intolerant bigots? For that matter, do you still think that freedom of speech and the freedom to practice whatever religion you believe is right for you, is still the acceptable norm among the masses? I say nay nay! I'll be posting parts 2 and 3 of this blog over the next couple of days so be sure to come back and weigh in with your thoughts and ideas.