Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

It has saddened me in recent years that Catholics — members of a tradition that has over the centuries created such beautiful art, architecture, music, poetry, literature, and other forms of artistic expression — have had difficulty achieving quality in the art of film (with a few notable exceptions, such as “The Passion of the Christ”).

But I think a new “wind” is blowing, and that this an example.  If you have about 10 minutes, give it a watch.  You won’t regret it.

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Olympic ArcheryFor part 1, click here

Okay…so in part 1 we talked about the “playful” gracefulness of athletics, and how this in some ways points to the glory of God and the derivative glory of the human person.  This brings us to the next (more…)

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Olympics_DiscusI must admit that I’ve never been able to get into sports.  I expect this is due mostly to the fact that I never made much of an effort to get involved in them as a child (mea culpa — mea maxima culpa).

But I have long had a kind of detached respect for sporting events, not least of all because of the family and inter-generational bonding they bring about.

Most of the people reading this will probably be watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in a couple days, if not tomorrow night…I’m counting on a number of people skipping the Opening Ceremonies (shame on them).  So perhaps I am a bit late, rather than early, in posting my thoughts the night before.

Nevertheless, here it goes…

Figure Skating

Whenever we look at a good athlete in action, we notice that s/he has a certain poise or grace.  For him/her, the game is not just a “game” in the trivial sense; rather, it is a kind of dance.  The movements of the athlete’s body take on a particular artistry that points beyond itself and has the ability to lift the viewer’s mind toward the transcendent Beauty of the Creator.

Sound strange?  Think of it this way: The art and architecture of the great Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals have been described in the exact same way.  And if the inanimate work of man’s hands can point the mind toward the Creator, how much more the human person himself, the Crown of God’s creation?

PallasFor that reason, I find it interesting that the Olympic Games originated in Ancient Greece.  First of all, the ancient Greeks had an artistic tradition dedicated to the glory of the human person (particularly in their sculptures) that was virtually unrivaled in the ancient world.  Secondly, they enjoyed an even greater reputation for their love of wisdom (exemplified in the Great Philosophers of that time and culture).  Why do I find that part interesting?  Here’s why:

Then was (Wisdom) beside (God) as his craftsman, and … was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and found delight in the sons of men (Proverbs 8: 30-31 — italics mine)

Jesus_LogosGod’s very Wisdom — His Logos, or Word — became incarnate in Jesus Christ, Who became a human being like one of us, so to raise humanity to new life.  In athletics (“playing”), we are able in some way to imitate the playfulness of this same Eternal Word.

Outside of Israel itself, ancient Greece might very well have had the most important role in preparing the world for the Gospel — both because of its love of wisdom and because of its various explorations of the glory, complexity, and ambiguity of the human person in art, drama, poetry, and other forms of expression.

Considering the original role of the Olympics as a religious ceremony in honor of the Olympian gods, we should also consider the fact that these gods were human in appearance (unlike the deities of some other ancient cultures, which were depicted in the shapes of beasts).  Such worship was idolatry indeed…but hidden within this error, I can’t help but think that there may have been some anticipation of the advent of glorified humanity in Christ.

Anyway, that’s my theological “rabbit trail” for tonight.

There are a couple more points I want to make about the Olympics and athletics, but I’ll take the risk of waiting until the Opening Ceremonies to conclude my thoughts (like I said, I am counting on some people skipping these :)).  Thanks for reading.

Images from Wikipedia

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This video was made four years ago, when the first scandal came around.  Apropos now, don’t you think?

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Game of Thrones_Dikembe Mutombo

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