by Rudy Ch. Garcia
Tim Tebow wears his religion on his sleeve, obviously. And now there's a craze, since his come-from-behind victories this season, so far. It got me to thinking.
Before there was American football, religion used to be "the opium of the people," although among our gente here and in Latin America, the Catholic Church still serves that function. If Spanish conquistadores or mexicano ricos or American corporations exploited you and your country, you had the Church to assuage your sufferings. The 99% could pray for deliverance from the 1%, which included the Catholic Church prior to the 1910 Mexican Revolution.
Things were so oppressive that the authors of the 1917 Mexican Constitution that arose out of the Revolution reduced the Catholic Church’s influence in Mexico's affairs. It enforced secular education in schools, outlawed monastic vows and orders, curtailed public worship outside Church buildings, denied religious institutions the right to acquire, hold or administer property, declared national property any real estate held by religious institutions through third parties like hospitals and schools, and took away from Church officials any voting or commenting on public affairs. These provisions still stand as one of the most encompassing rebellions against too much religion where it shouldn't be.
"Wearing your heart on your sleeve," like Tebow does, is a phrase attributed to author William Shakespeare from his play Othello, in a line spoken by Iago: "I will wear my heart upon my sleeve" [1.1.65]. Although, people forget that these words weren't about declaring your religious views, because Iago was attempting to deceive Othello. Shakespeare probably took the phrase from the Middle Ages, where a knight dedicated his performance to a woman in the court by wearing her colors or kerchief tied around his arm to show he represented her. In Tebow's case, maybe he's trying to indicate he represents something higher up, but without any deception, maybe.
Now that American football is the opium at least of the American people, it's assumed the role that another author, Karl Marx, described: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions." [Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.]
As a Denver resident, I'm a de facto Broncos fan. No, I don't go around saying "our" team or "us" in referring to the 1% NFL team, but I do root for them, now. So, I'm not some "Raider-hater" when I say that when Tebow tebows, it's cute, but it's also historical illusion, and seems to imply an inherent arrogance.
The conquistadores and colonists brought over that arrogance in religious forms, from Puritanism to Catholicism, and the indigenous Americans lost their world and were forced to adopt that European opium. Whether it was De Soto or Cortez or Puritans and Pilgrims, the indigenes would learn that the invaders' tebowing was a sign of bad things to come.
Why? Because it signified that the genuflector was not just appealing to his god, but also assumed he was better than his adversaries, subjects or those he was about to conquer. Especially the heathens. The problem with Tebow's tebowing is that he's not facing some "godforsaken heathens."
Next time you see Tebow tebowing, consider what his gesture indicates about his attitude toward the opposing team. He's not just praying to win. Is Tebow asking for his god's assistance against other worshippers who also worship his same god? Why does he deserve to win the game when the other team likely has as many church attendees? Why would his god care to bless the Broncos more than the Patriots, for instance? All things being equal--like as many worshippers on the Patriots as on the Broncos, or as many devout players on the two teams--to appeal for victory over them sounds like trying to make your god take a side when he shouldn't.
I think it makes no more sense than why the Spaniards bowed on the outskirts of Tenochtítlan before they proceeded to destroy the center of Aztec civilization. There's nothing cute about that--just an inherent arrogance. It might make you think twice about what mixing these two opiums represents.
A vote that does count
From Denver artist Robert Maestas comes this news:
The Denver “Art District Best of 2011” nominations are now open. I would appreciate it if you would consider voting on my solo exhibit held in September 2011. The show was entitled “Robert Maestas presents Tribute to 09/11/01." Nominations close at midnight on Monday December 19, 2011.
You can nominate the show by clicking on this link and selecting the category Best Solo Show by a Colorado Artist. In the space provided, type in “Robert Maestas presents Tribute to 09/11/2001.” As a reminder, here is a photograph of that show.
I would appreciate it if you inform all your family, friends and colleagues. Thank you for your support of the arts.
Robert Maestas, Artist
P.S. While you are on the site, scroll down and enter your nomination for “Best Gallery.” If I may, I would recommend CHAC, Denver's Chicano Humanities and Arts Council.