Worthy Christian News » World News » Olympic spirits and global illusions
By Berit Kjos
For background information, see
The Olympic Dream: A Renaissance of Unholy Oneness
Olympic Myths and Earthy Magic
"...reality is usually scoffed at and illusion is usually king...." Dr. Stanley Monteith, Radio Liberty
"What's needed is ...something analogous to the ancient acropolis, where today's diversity of national and ethnic customs and religious traditions can be celebrated and upheld for the enrichment of everybody....The new acropolises will... provide opportunity for sacred expression needed to bind the people of the planet into a viable, meaningful, and sustainable solidarity." [Dean James Morton, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, 1996 UN Conference on Human Settlements]
Few celebrations match the UN vision of a global acropolis better than the spectacular tribute to unity that opens the Olympic games. Summer and winter -- each two years -- the ceremony changes. But the popular message and the planned illusion remains the same: we are one world, one spirit, one people.
Year 2002 serves this rising tradition well. In Salt Lake City, on February 8, a crowd of 52,000 welcomed 2,318 athletes from 77 nations. The foreign dignitaries included UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, one of many global managers with a major stake in the universal appeal of the Olympic vision.
Mr. Annan must have enjoyed the young skater seeking "the fire within." Pursued by a fierce storm of terrifying creatures and monstrous icicles, the Child of Light looked quite lost until he found that empowering fire represented by a skater in red who would show him the way.
The subtle message? The human spirit faces adversity, but the Olympic spirit -- represented by the "fire within" and the Olympic flame -- will conquer the obstacles and win the day. As the NBC narrator said, "The Olympic spirit can never be extinguished." It sounds familiar, doesn't it? Some might even equate it with the Spirit of God, which would fit the UN plan for religious harmony -- a global blend of diverse religions united under the banner of one universal spirit in all.
The transforming power of such collective rituals was stressed at the 1996 UN Conference on Human Settlements. Speaking on the topic of "solidarity," Dr. Benjamin Ladner, President of American University, said,
"We must commit ourselves to the work of imagining our common humanity... and of enacting civic rituals that resonate with the music of our ancestors."
That music came through five Native American tribes native to Utah. Wearing their ritual feathers, members of the Ute, Goshute, Shoshone, Paiute and Navajo nations step-danced onto the stage. Bringing wishes for global peace, they performed a colorful five-ring drum dance. Like the five "Olympic spirits" masked as sun gods featured in the 1996 summer games, they fit the vision of spiritual unity in the midst of cultural diversity. [See "The Olympic Dream: A Renaissance of Unholy Oneness"]
Mr. Annan may have been less pleased with other parts of the ceremony. The terrors of September 11 had opened the door to patriotic expressions often mocked in the past. Let's hope the beautiful rendition of "God Bless America" and the belated permission to include the tattered American flag -- two Olympic concessions that set this year apart from other years -- didn't blind eyes to the seductive spirit behind the Olympics. For this ceremony had little to do with love for God or nation. It had everything to do with changing the public consciousness and winning public consent for a global spirituality befitting the new world management system.
Hours before President Bush opened the ceremonies with a brief welcome, he had spoken at the Olympic Reception. "The Olympics give the world a chance," he said, "in the midst of a difficult struggle, to celebrate international peace and cooperation. He continued,
"For centuries, the Olympics have reinforced an important lesson. ... No matter how wide our political or cultural differences may be, some things are valued and enjoyed the world over. All people appreciate the discipline that produces excellence; the courage that overcomes difficult odds; the character that creates champions." emphasis added
That's true. The best of life transcends cultural differences, and we have seen some exceptional examples of courage, kindness and perseverance among the athletes through the years. Each day of amazing human feats shows the heights of bodily triumphs. The most heroic models have been paraded before an admiring world again and again, for they serve an important purpose.
Today's global managers need public heroes who can inspire collective - even national - pride and social unity while diverting attention from less popular government projects. Remember, this strategy, with its emphasis on politically correct character, worked well for former social engineers such as Lenin, Stalin and Hitler. No doubt, we have learned a lesson or two from last century's pioneers in international socialism
From a traditional perspective, this public adulation of character seems a bit out-of-place. In fact, it would be nice to ignore certain facts about the Olympic culture. While there are many true heroes among the revered athletes, their "village" is also known for its rampant use of free condoms, its obsession with the human body, its shameless delight in all kinds of promiscuous sex, and, especially in former years, its illicit use of drugs and steroids.
Intended or not, President Bush' blend of noble thoughts and illusions matches that of the IOC [International Olympic Committee]. Citing its ban on political expressions, it had, at first, refused to give the American team permission to carry the tattered WTC flag in the parade. The Wall Street Journal article by Kimberly Strassel rebuts that pretension:
"The IOC [International Olympic Committee] has spent a lot of the past two decades trying to bolster a specific image. Along with the United Nations, it has increasingly sought to occupy that distant, holier-than-all-you sphere.... The Olympic PR spin is that the games transcend petty nationalism, greedy athletic ambition and ungentlemanly conduct....
"The perceived wisdom, after all, is that the Olympics' noble and peaceful attributes descended directly from the original Greek games....
"The problem, of course, is that the ancient games were nothing like this. Athletes competed for lavish financial gain. Most of the sports were brutal; one, pankration -- a cross between kick-boxing and wrestling -- allowed contestant to kick each other, break each other's fingers.... Politicians gave speeches between events. Athletes were bribed to swap city allegiances...."
In reality -- as contrasted with illusion -- global politics and financial gain are at the heart of the games. Why else did the pompous IOC submit to bribery some years ago? Or why do the Olympic games become a behind-the-scenes gathering place for busy international leaders? And why did China, with its history of Christian persecution, win the coveted right to host the summer games in 2008?
The IOC shrewdly selected a diverse team to carry its revered Olympic flag into the stadium. The flag-bearers included liberal politician and astronaut John Glenn, former Polish Solidarity Party President Lech Walesa, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg, two athletes and South African socialist Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Apparently, the ban on "politics" only rules out persuasions that clash with UN ideology - the new norm. [See "Trading U.S. Rights for UN Rules"]
In contrast, ideas that match the UN are welcome. Ponder these slogans. The NBC narrator called the first two "self-evident truths." Are they true, false, a seductive blend that distorts the truth...? How would you classify them? What might people perceive if they don't take time to evaluate the message?
"What unites us can be far greater than what divides us...."
"We are beaten only when we stop believing in what we wish we can be."
"The flame that is lit tonight... is not the fire of destruction but a light in the darkness."
Genuine unity comes through Christ, our Lord, not the human imagination. Only He can complete in us what we hope to be. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
All the lofty Olympic promises that exclude our God will remain illusions, and His people need to be alert to the difference. "Beware," He warns us, "lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
But only a few are likely to listen. As Dr. Stanley Monteith so wisely said, "...reality is usually scoffed at and illusion is usually king, but in the battle for the survival of Western civilization it will be reality and not illusion or delusion that will determine what the future will bring."
1. Dr. Stanley Monteith, www.radioliberty.com
2. James Morton, former dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, speaking at the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). Berit attended and taped this message in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3-14, 1996. For more information about the UN-led transformation of the way we live, see "UN-Habitat II."
3. In his battle for a politically correct global consciousness, Ted Turner banned this word from use among his CNN reporters.
4. Remarks by the President at State of Utah Olympic Reception - Salt Lake City, February 8, 2002. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/20020208-7.html
5. Pro-lifers protest Olympic condoms
6. Olympic Scandals: From Bribery to Steroids, http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-2338.html
Kimberly Strassel, "Olympian Disdain," Wall Street Journal article, 2-8-02.