Jesus, Tebow, and Grandma God: The New Trinity

Jesus, Tebow, and Grandma God: The New Trinity January 16, 2014

Some days, I come across an article that restores my faith in humanity, and gives me hope for the future of the Christian story.

This is not one of those days.

Apparently–seriously, I just almost can’t say this out loud without wanting to 1)laugh hysterically and/or 2)curl up in a dark corner somewhere–but I say, APPARENTLY, HALF OF AMERICANS think that God decides who wins the Super Bowl.


I almost don’t have anything to say except, ‘No.’ No, no, no, people. I’ve been trying to teach my kids lately that ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’ are not nice words to say, and that we should strike them from our (preschool) vocabulary. But y’all…This is DUMB. Moreover: it’s ignorant. [Webster says: ‘lacking knowledge or awareness; uneducated or unsophisticated.’]

I try to envision God as a 40-something straight white American male, sitting in a diviner (divine recliner, of course), pounding Bud and getting Cheeto-powder all over the remote…and every few minutes going ‘welllll…Ima edge that ball just a fewwwww inches to the left to ensure a win for whoever’s got Tebow this year.’ Or ‘let’s take down whoever just tackled Manning, cause he’s my favorite.’ Or ‘too bad I cursed the Cowboys xxx years ago; otherwise, I might be feeling them right now.” I try to picture it, but for all the prowess of my sacred imagination, I just cannot wrap my mind around the presence of that particular God.

A friend and former church-folk of mine, Kent Somers, is the sports writer for the Arizona Republic. Awhile back, he wrote a really great piece for us about the cultural perception of God=football. Take a read of it, if you didn’t catch it the first time around.

He says that if there’s a spiritual element to the game–and he believes there is–it’s more in the art of playing, rather than in the outcome. Truth. I would also venture that God has a vested interest in the football players. Not in whether or not they get the giant piece of bling this year, but in their actual life and personhood. God cares if those guys get hurt. God cares if they are joyful or sorrowful– related to the game or not. God cares about their families, their futures, every last hair on their head. Of course, I can also see a grandmotherly God rolling her eyes and saying, ‘alright, fellas, if you want to take your beautiful, handmade-by-me bodies and place them in the path of a linebacker who’s roughly the size and heft of an oncoming freight train, then don’t come crying to me when your shoulder or your nose is suddenly not where I meant for it to be.” I can totally picture that God watching football.

But mostly, she’s just there for the commercials.

Anyway…that’s about all I have to say about that. Other than this one other thing–if half of Americans believe that God is manipulating our sporting events, that means that at least half of Americans believe there is a higher power at work on our behalf. At least half of Americans have hope. Or at least, they long to have hope. However misguided its manifestation at times, that spark of hope lives in each of us. Deep down, we all want the assurance that God is on our team; rooting for us, guiding us, protecting us; connecting us in human families and sacred community (with or without matching jerseys); bringing out our best gifts, giving us purpose, and–as Kent said –teaching us to face defeat with dignity, and winning with grace.

Deep down, we all want to know that God. In spite of our sometimes misguided passions and self-absorbed interests, I will let that be my hope for humanity today. I’ll trust that, eventually, all will come to know the true source of hope and victory at the heart of our being.  We need only Jesus and/or Tebow to guide us.

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  • ccws

    Well…for a lot of people, football is the only true religion… Me? I’m an agnostic. I only recognize a football 2 out of 3 times. 😉

  • R Vogel

    So, this is a terrible study in every way. it does not support the conclusion that are being attributed to it. The only question that directly asks if people think G*d influences the outcome of sporting events and only 1 in 5 answered in the affirmative. Answering that you have prayed for your team, or have a ritual, or believe you team is cursed is hardly the same as saying G*d determines who wins the super bowl. We Americans are dumb enough all on our own without specious studies trying to make us look are dumber,

    • Erin Smallwood Wathen

      yes. agreed.

  • “Touchdown!” ~Big Butter Jesus

    “To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, May 21, 1803

  • wellston25

    I agree, but if God really favored a team, I guess it would be the Saints

  • Herro

    Erin, how exactly do you know so much about what your god cares about?