Call me an old whinger but I’ve become increasingly annoyed every weekend with finding some kind of sports competition on my television. Wimbledon, the London marathon (which once disrupted a Palm Sunday procession I went to in London), the World Cup, the so-called “paralympics” (by far the worst, in my view), and now yet another world championship. I don’t care for sport or for contests of strength and speed; I think there should be less of it. Man will never be as strong as an ox, nor as swift as a gazelle and our most Christian Emperor Theodosius was moved by divine will to ban the Olympic games as pagan, and unworthy of Christian culture, in A.D 394. What irritates me, vis-a-vis what I’ve said about human limitation, is this exaltation of the body at the expense of the mind and the soul, and I think this tendency runs parallel with the decline in Christianity. Once a civilisation has abandoned belief in the life eternal, what is left but this life and this body? Is it any coincidence that the modern Olympic games were revived in 1896, between the publication of Darwin’s work and that War which forever compromised the churches in Europe and brought about an end to Christian Monarchy in Russia? Is it a coincidence that the Olympic games appealed to the Nazi elite, with their pagan and pseudo-scientific race doctrine? I do not think so.
Many of us marvel that athletes can run miles at record speed, and throw objects further than their predecessors, and we feign outrage when many of them turn out to have used drugs to enhance their ability. Not me. I’m not in the least bit impressed, and the scarcely-regulated use of drugs just lessens the prestige and attraction that these contests might otherwise have for people like me.
Look at this woman. I have no idea who she is; I just typed in “olympic athlete” into Google Images. Angry, thrilled, half-naked; not exactly the qualities we’d expect in a Christian woman! As Mrs Doubtfire said, “not a single body that exists in nature.” My own body is pallid and flabby, but I have the decency to cover it up, and I suppose that nothing for which the life beautiful has a name can be read into a pot belly!
I would that more of us sought to furnish our minds with beauty rather than put so much effort into our perishable bodies.