Wednesday, 6 April 2016
A question of sport...
To-day's Google widget is a reminder of 120 years of the modern Olympic games. If you ask me, Theodosius Augustus was right to abolish the Olympic games with all the other pagan relics of the antient world, and their "revival" is most unfortunate. I have nothing against physical fitness and healthy competition but when these things become, as they have ostensibly become in our time, obsessive, and occasions of pride and lust (not to mention obscene - the so-called "paralympic" games are an abuse of human dignity), I think it behoves us to remember Christ's words to the Pharisees about making clean the outside of the cup (the physical body) at the expense of that which is within (the soul). I used to work with a girl called Emma. Pleasant enough as godless people are to-day, she knew little of Jesus, but spent a considerable amount of her time going to the gym, watching her calories, moisturising her skin, flossing her teeth (she used to brush her teeth after every meal), waxing her body hair, getting drunk and fornicating with various men. She made no efforts at all to read books, or to to listen to (real) music, or go to the theatre. She was a cultural and spiritual desert; an impressive-looking but hollow shell. Anybody in this world can lift weights, or run a distance, but if you are ignorant of the literature and musick of your country, you cannot really be conversant with its history or character; you know nothing at all about what your ancestors thought and believed, and crucially you cannot pass that onto your children. To read, to listen, to experience; these things make us who we are, not contests of sport or Weight Watchers. And if you are ignorant of the Bible, well...in what sense can you claim to be civilised?
I would quite happily see the abolition of the modern Olympic games, not because it is a revival of paganism (would that it were! At least pagans had the natural light, ere the Gospel encompassed the Empire), but because I see it as tacitly encouraging the kind of person Emma was. A hollow shell, apt to be filled with the modern world. Not much room there for the Gospel. Beauty fades, the body soon withers. We're stuck with our souls for eternity.