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Olympics Religion

Olympics religion

Olympics ReligionThere is so much we can reflect on in relation to the Olympics and religion; Olympics and spirituality – it is difficult to know where to start…

The overt religious aspects of the opening ceremony: the hymns Abide with Me, Cwm Rhondda, Jerusalem… the dynamics of that ceremony as a lesson to (and from) liturgy. The sermon-like speeches. The central, obvious presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury…

The similarities between sport and religion, the connections between sport and spirituality,… symbols, rituals, traditions, rules, heroes, stories, discipline, self-discipline, …

What about the incessant questions of religion that are never asked of sport. Eg. a group yelling at a television screen for “their” team, their country – the team cannot hear them; it affects nothing, changes nothing… yet we do it without questioning… it changes us who do the yelling… it forms us, the group, yelling at the TV, it changes us, strengthens our bonds…

The first time that women are present in all teams… The debates about head-scarves – where are the edges of tolerance towards others who differ from us…

Sport being able to do what religion appears not to be able to do – while it is religion that claims it is the way to do it…

Having places to pray and meditate in the Olympic village…

Connecting church and the Olympics, prayer and the Olympics

Do we need to name “God” for God to be present… or does naming “God” sometimes (often) distance us further from God…

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11 thoughts on “Olympics religion”

  1. “Do we need to name “God” for God to be present… or does naming “God” sometimes (often) distance us further from God…”
    I don’t think so, but to honor Him as individuals we probably should. I do it to bring His presence into the moment. But with so many so terribly injured by some churches I think simply do it silent in their presence is to bring Him in our midst.

    1. Like you, Chris, I’m perfectly happy to use the word “God”. But I’m very conscious that as I use the word “God” in the presence of others what they hear and what I am saying is very often totally different. Blessings.

  2. I also noted the direct message on universal health care, and the corporate nature in tension with the individual in the lighting of the flame. 7 people lighting the flame – very symbolic, complete rather than solo.

    This was not merely technical showing off.

  3. As you know I am originally from England, and religion is very traditional there in loads of ways, even when people aren’t overtly religious- and where people are openly and scathingly critical of religious hypocrisy and dogma.

    ‘Do we need to name “God” for God to be present… or does naming “God” sometimes (often) distance us further from God…’


    This is what people were doing in the US today in the name of ‘God’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19087889

    Irony on so many levels. I give up! As one man I know says ‘haters gotta hate!’

    ‘To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven,’ to quote Emerson…I’m choosing to look for the heaven and let hell take care of itself…

  4. The short answer to naming God at the Coca-Co- oops, Olympic Games is to ensure that ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘God defend NZ’ are sung as frequently as possible! 🙂

    But how strange (and how indicative of the times) to recall Eric Liddell but never mention the faith in God that made him run – or not run.

    A lot of the razzmatazz of Olympic ceremonies (torch relays etc) goes back to Dr Goebbels, who knew a lot about putting on striking public shows.

  5. That’s the difference with Jesus though. Striking as his ‘public show’ was…he lived and died for it and for others. He tried to show everyone.

    The same people who waved palm leaves threw stones and insults within a week of each other.

    Where was The Olympics in the time of Jesus is a thought-provoking question….

    And that’s who Jesus was ( and still is to followers )
    -not a rabble-rouser but a thought-provoker.

    If I ask myself ‘who am I as a Christian?’ it is still as demanding and difficult a question today.

    The question is- am I willing to take it on, his level of trust? to love people who don’t love me? to keep working ( trust God- through all the pains and often endless struggles )to the nth degree ( as the best athletes and other acheivers do )?

    If I am not- then it’s simple really: mind your own business!


    I don’t think those of us who have always lived in a safe, nurturing, free etc. culture really appreciate how fortunate we have been.

    we get to taking things for granted- not realising that when we restrict other people’s freedoms…we map out our own.

    There are around 7 billion people of us on Earth now, each the centre of their own Universe.

    That’s what I get from Jesus and thinking about religion and the Olympics:

    it’s no one else’s fault if I don’t fully recognise or achieve my personal potential.

    Most people don’t.

    But ( ephiphany ) let’s not act it out on anyone else by joining a political or other bandwagon…if I hurt someone else- I hurt myself.

    Yet again that turns in on itself philosphically though:

    all I can live is the life I am ordained.

    Everyone is as important as me- even the people of other tribes and values and ideas.

    Why are my prayers and the responses of God worth more than anyone else’s?

    They are not.


    If I want to live in a free country- I must permit even my ‘enemies’ ( which in a free country and the modern world really means- those I don’t trust or those who want things I don’t politically…to do the same.

    Matthew 25.

    Eisegesis not allowed:
    as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

    Some things to me at least flow naturally from that- kindness, taking care of the sick and dying, sharing resources…


    I’m not saying that’s who I am yet, if ever- just that that’s my ideal, something to strive towards even knowing we don’t have the ability.

    And those humans who do- they are the ones who made history, changed the course of history. Many for good…some for evil.

    Evil in small ways is still evil though…as is good.

  6. I’ll start with a disclaimer – I pay little attention to sport and I am mostly ignoring the Olympics (simply as it doesn’t interest me).

    I think that including God in the opening ceremony is great. We live in a world that is forgetting about God – and it is great to see God recognised at probably the most watched event world-wide (until the next Olympics). If the Olympics were held in other certain countries, I’m sure their concept of God / religion would be on display. Congratulations to those who had the backbone and made the decision to make a Christian statement to the world.

    Mention of the torch relay reminds me of an event I was involved in MANY years ago. One Pentecost a flame was lit at the cathedral and three(?) were carried from (Anglican) church to church and ended at up key locations where everyone was invited to come worship that evening (one bishop / assistant bishop per final location). As the flame stopped at each church, it was up to that church to provide runners to get it to the next church. It would be nice to see this happen again – and in multiple Diocese.

    Have a great weekend :0)


    1. Thanks, Dave. I don’t know how many centuries the relay with the lit flame from the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem at Easter has been going – I hope others pick up your challenge to try this in their context. Blessings.

  7. I’ve gone off waffling emotionally enough here already but:

    Britain is a free country when the Olympics can involve God and cater so successfully for people of many religions also secular populations…and here in the US in order to maintain basic freedom of religion- God’s name cannot be freely used in public.

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