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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Faith of Jeremy Lin

I've posted previously about the interplay between faith and sports ("Faith, Sports, and Pressure""A Hijab Fencer, The Flying Scot, and Tim Tebow"), and I've written about last year's surprise NBA sensation, Jeremy Lin ("Jeremy Lin and Conventional Wisdom"). But I haven't written about Jeremy Lin's faith (he's an evangelical Christian) and the fact that he's just as vocal about his faith as is Tim Tebow although, for whatever reason, isn't subject to the same ridicule by the secular media (and some Mainline Protestants) for doing so.

On this topic is a wonderful interview by Tony Gill of Timothy Dalrymple ("Timothy Dalrymple on Religion, Sports, and Jeremy Lin"), who is a former champion gymnast and was a member of Stanford's 1995 National Championship Team and a contender for the 1996 Olympic squad before he fell and broke his neck.  Dalrymple went on to earn a BA degree in the Philosophy of Religion from Stanford, an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Religious Studies from Harvard (so much for those who argue that religion is anti-intellectual). He's currently the Managing Editor of the Evangelical Portal of Patheos.com and has recently written the book, Jeremy Lin: The Reason for Linsanity.

Gill's interview of Dalrymple not only covers Jeremy Lin's faith (who was at Harvard at the same time as Dalrymple), but also Dalrymple's, Tim Tebow's, Gabby Douglas's, and (briefly) Albert Pujols's. The podcast also explores the world of gymnastics and how much time promising gymnasts put in at the gym (8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week, year round, from the time they are 10 years and old). Here's a summary of the podcast from the Research on Religion website:
What does it take to be an elite athlete? And what role does faith play in that lifestyle? We are pleased to be joined by Timothy Dalrymple who knows all about being an elite athlete and religion. Tim was part of the 1995 NCAA national championship gymnastics team at Stanford University and was on his way to the 1996 Olympic trials when he tragically broke his neck, unbeknownst to him for several days. He recounts all the dedication and time it took to become a junior nationals champion at age 15 as well as to make it to the highest levels of collegiate competition. We also follow Tim’s journey beyond athletics through his M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, his Ph.D. at Harvard, and his current position as the managing editor of the evangelical channel at Patheos.com. He provides numerous insights into the life of an elite athlete and how his faith played an important role in shaping his character during his journey in this world, including his career-ending neck injury on the cusp of a possible appearance at the 1996 Olympics. The discussion of this injury alone is worth the (free) price of admission into this fascinating interview. Tim corrects a number of misperceptions that the general public has about how religious athletes approach their faith. Interestingly, Tim notes that what challenges one the most is not the failures, because elite athletes learn about those all the time, but the victories. This discussion helps Tony understand the personal faith commitments of athletes such as Gabby Douglas, Tim Tebow, and Jeremy Lin. We then turn our discussion to the incredible phenomenon of Jeremy Lin, noting how he captured the nation’s attention coming off the bench to play for a “down-and-out” New York Knicks team and leading them on a miraculous seven game winning streak in February of 2012. Tim knew of Jeremy long before his appearance in the NBA spotlight and recalls his first discussion with him at Harvard University, where Jeremy played collegiate ball. He then details the trajectory of Jeremy’s career based upon his recent book, Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity. We use this discussion to reflect upon the current state of religion in America. Whereas many scholars and pundits have argued that America’s religiosity is in decline, the attention and adoration that athletes like Lin, Tebow, and Douglas draw — not only for their athletic performances but for their public witness to their faith — provides an indication that our nation still thirsts for heroes who celebrate their Christian faith.
You can download the podcast from iTunes or listen to it at the Research on Religion website ("Timothy Dalrymple on Religion, Sports, and Jeremy Lin")

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