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(RNS) Why should religious leaders, of all people, turn their fire on celebrities who use their popularity for public proclamations of the Almighty's power? By Michael Medved.

2 Comments

  1. Tebow only prays on the field. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging God because of the gifts we have. Its quite another think to make a spectacle of it. Jesus said that those who do so “imagine” their prayers will get a hearing. Clearly they do not.

  2. I think the profound discomfort with Tebowish “PDRAs” (Public Displays of Religious Affections) is that they are somehow manipulative and dangerously close to rejecting Jesus’ own teachings. First, regarding manipulation: It is easy to cast PDRAs, done before millions of spectators, as an effort to manipulate God into giving one favor or success. It can appear as if the athlete is trying to strike a deal with God: “Look, I will make you famous if you make me famous”. This may be unfair, or it may be right in the money, or somewhere in between. But it certainly looks like PDRAs are done to get God on one’s side in a public way. And, in a culture that politicizes God constantly, and invokes God’s name to sanctify public policy, cultural privilege, and personal prejudice, it is easy to lump PDRAs in with such manipulative God talk. 

    I hope all of this is a wrong read of the PDRA phenomenon, but I fear it is at least partially right. And I do think the mass spectacle of the modern PDRA is qualitatively different from Bach quietly initialing SDG on his compositions. This brings me to my second point: The PDRA seems to reject Jesus’ own advice from the Sermon on the Mount (and other places):

    Matt. 6:5-6 And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 

    Granted, Jesus prayed publicly, as did Paul and the Apostles. And there are places in the Christian liturgical life for corporate prayer, from the celebration of sacraments to mealtime prayer. So, Jesus’ instructions on private prayer must be balanced with our communal need for corporate prayer. The question is, does the PDRA serve a communally felt liturgical need, or is it merely a public expression of private feelings? If it is the former, we need to find a way to sanctify and hallow it so it is not treated with disdain. If it is the latter, perhaps the PDRA is simply TMI.