Bread and circuses

Bread and circuses

In essence, the Olympic Games are just an elite sport carnival.

Or, as William Oddie puts it so scathingly, the Olympics celebrate “a large number of self-confident and mostly illiterate young people running, leaping and otherwise cavorting around the Olympic Park and elsewhere.” Bah! Humbug!

But of course, the Olympics are also much more than that. A friend asked me on Monday if I had weaved the Olympics into my homily on Sunday. To be honest, it had never even occurred to me. But upon reflection, I could have. The “Olympic Spirit” provides plenty of material. It’s a bit late now though.

Another friend told me Monday that the Mr Bean video I had embedded in a previous post had been removed. The IOC has been vociferous in enforcing its copyright. It amazes me how hard it is to locate mere snippets of the Opening Ceremony on the Internet. There must be a lesson in that on the rampant commercialisation of the Olympics.

Still, a little bit of Google research has recovered the buried treasure. Here’s hoping these videos last a little longer.

Mr Bean:

Her Majesty and Mr Bond:

For what it’s worth, I liked the Opening Ceremony. It wasn’t perfect, and the critics have been quick to point out its deficiencies. Nobody’s done that better, I think, than Andrew Bolt, whose recognition of the Ceremony’s strengths is as compelling as his critique of its omissions:

THANKS for the lecture, London. I’ve never seen such a political opening ceremony for the Olympics since, er, Beijing.

But there’s politics and there’s politics. What director Danny Boyle served up on Saturday made me choke at times, but put his hotpot next to what China fed us four years ago and you can only think, thank God.

Thank God for humour, and even more for compassion.

Read it via Google. (You’ll get around the paywall.)

On a different tack — and more in keeping with William Oddie’s channelling of Ebenezer Scrooge — Joanna Bogle turns her attention to the dire straits which the UK is sailing towards, from which the Olympics are providing a momentary distraction:

So here we are facing what promises to be the biggest crisis of European history. We are dying. There aren’t enough children being born. People are living longer – and expect to live reasonably well, with some health care and social welfare provision, some heating in winter and enough food all year round.  Providing this is not too difficult with a normal healthy birthrate. But we don’t have one. We are in minus-births, or to put it more poetically, we have a birth-dearth.

Refreshingly, she hasn’t shaped the impending crisis into a stick with which to beat the Olympics. Rather, she proposes to shape the Olympics into a torch to lead Europe out of its mess.

I think she is too optimistic. Who knows? Boris Johnson might make a great Prime Minister. But the demographic and economic crises bearing down on Europe and America and “the West,” can’t be fixed by good government. Any solution requires a massive cultural shift comparable to the 1960s sexual revolution which gots us into this mess.

Whatever of that. In the meantime we can pray and love and — yes — enjoy the Olympics for the authentic good they showcase.

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