The following posting by George Weigel appeared July 28 on National Review Online.
Watching as much as I could stand of the opening “ceremonies’ of the XXX Olympics on the evening of July 27, the thought occurred that the International Olympic Committee does perform one useful public service every biennium: It reminds the world that you can’t invent liturgy.
For that’s what these multi-hour theatrical extravaganzas have become: a kind of ersatz liturgy of the in vitro World Community, in which film directors (such as Britain’s Danny Boyle) take the role once played by the monks and canons who designed public worship centuries ago. And as such things go, London’s secularized Olympic liturgy on the night of July 27 was perhaps slightly less offensive than others in the same genre.
Boyle unabashedly anchored the show/liturgy in history, meaning British history, rather than in the Gnostic and pagan fantasies that have become the Olympic norm. But it does tell you something about what Evelyn Waugh would have called “decline and fall” when the British National Health Service is proposed for global worship as a kind of sacrament, when Paul McCartney (sorry, Sir Paul McCartney) replaces Ralph Vaughan Williams as liturgical hymnwriter, and when H.M. the Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, is reduced to a bit player in a knock-off of the Bond movies.
This is not what Thomas Cranmer, let alone Pope Gregory the Great, had in mind by “liturgy.”
Amidst Boyle’s histrionics, a moment of silence in honor of the Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, which was urged on the [Olympics Committee] by several national legislatures, would likely have dishonored the dead rather than remembering them with the dignity and honor they were denied by Black September 40 years ago. Yet one hopes that the Committee does find the spine to fit a commemoration of the victims of the Munich massacre into the ceremonies closing the current London Games….
As the Games of the XXX Olympiad unfold over the next fortnight, and the likeliest moral arguments will have to do with doping and other forms of cheating, it will be well hold in our memories Munich 1972 and the names of the murdered Israelis: Moshe Weinberg; Yossef Romano; Ze’ev Friedman; David Berger; Yakov Springer; Eliezer Halfin; Yossef Gutfreund; Kehat Shorr; Mark Slavin; Andre Spitzer; Amitzur Shapira.
The international fellowship and comity the Olympic movement claims to represent may never be much more than a charade celebrated in ersatz liturgy. Still, it would be a small and welcome step toward a more dignified conception of these biennial global gatherings if the Olympic Committee would recognize that remembering the victims of the Munich Massacre, and condemning their murderers, is not “politicizing” the Games….
To read the entire Weigel post, click here.