Archives For London 2012

Here are the links to the first three parts in this series:

I wanted to share some closing remarks as the closing ceremonies approach us. In watching and listening to the games I want us to be careful about what Tim Keller calls, counterfeit gods. The following is a long quote but well worth your attention:

A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.  An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.  It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving ‘face’ and social standing.  It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in Christian ministry.  When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it ‘co-dependency’ but it is really idolatry.  An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’  There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.”  Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, p. xviii.

What I notice is a lot of athletes whose dreams are crushed and then there is a feeling as if they have no clue what to do next with their lives. If you look at the body language of Michael Phelps and listen to his comments when asked about what he is going to do you can tell he is at a loss. His life… his identity has come from the pool and now he is faced with the gut wrenching question, “So what?”

If our identity is funneled by the things that we do instead of who we are then the things we do will always upset us. Because the idol of _____________ (you fill in the blank) can never give you only what God can give you. It will disappoint you…




What I saw in the Olympics was a lot of idolatry but I also saw some snippets of kingdom. Athletes praying, smiling and spreading the good news of God. Some where surely doing this. Their talent was not seen as something they had earned (although much work had gone into it) rather it was a blessing given to them by God.

Here are some lessons:

  • Watch what you consume…
  • Watch what consumes you…
  • What are your idols?
  • Was this entertainment of was this an “Us” vs. “Them” mentality (insert Chick-Fil-A controversy here)
  • What positive lessons/themes come from the Olympics?

Hope you enjoy the rest of the games!


You can see the first two posts here:

I had a conversation with my sister who lives in Toronto and we were talking about recycling and how, at least in the areas I have lived (Southeastern US) we have more trash and less recycling than Canada. She responded in jest, “You American consumers!” I think a lot of truth is said in jest and that is evident with the Olympic games as we watch all of the money spent on getting the games ready. I saw where the money raised and the budget used for the Olympics was in the neighborhood of over £2 billion (Source: That is $3.1 billion in U.S. currency! Not to mention all of the advertising. Consider this quote:

The 11 biggest corporate sponsors doled out nearly $1 billion for the rights to flaunt the Olympic seal during the London Games and 2010’s Winter Games in Vancouver. Coca-Cola is using social media to nudge Olympic fans to create and share music videos. General Electric is using it to coax folks to improve their health. Visa is using it to nudge fans to post elaborate cheers for the athletes. During the London Games, “we are going to see the use of social media surpass any sporting event in history,” says Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (USA Today).

All of this to garner our attention away from the competition and towards a particular product. Then I wonder how used (consumed) athletes feel. We use them until they no longer entertain us and then we are off to the next best thing in which we can consume as entertainment. All of this makes me as the obvious question: “Do you feel a bit used yourself?” It’s like they are saying, “Take our product, use our product and we will take your money and use your money to make another product and on and on the cycle goes.”

Jesus said this: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In other words, Jesus is saying that our lives is not made by what we consume rather our lives are made by who we are.  Watch the Olympics… by all means! Enjoy it but be cognizant of what narratives are being fed to you and understand how they relate to the overall narrative of God.

You can read the introduction to the series here (Part 1 – Hypernationalism). I want to discuss today some feelings I had as the names of the countries were announced in the parade of countries. As countries like Syria, Sudan, Congo, Somalia and other nations who are experiencing such turmoil were announced I felt a little bit like we were being diverted. The attention is on the athletic field but it seemed to me almost like we were asked to participate in willful blindness.

WILLFUL BLINDNESS – Willful blindness (sometimes called ignorance of law, willful ignorance or contrived ignorance or Nelsonian knowledge) is a term used in law to when an individual seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally putting himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable (Wikipedia).

While we are not talking about civil court I think we are ignoring the facts when we are asked to simply watch the game and forget about what is occurring in the nation. On Saturday when the NBS news came on we were told people in Syria are running from the cities as the whole country is in turmoil. This news report was given immediately after some Olympic events were held. How can we differentiate ourselves from the pain of the world to concentrate on the games? Can the two be separated? Should we turn a blind eye to what is occurring in the world to watch something that gives us entertainment and feeds our need to consume?

Yet, it is these stories and others that make the Olympics so fascinating. People meet on a neutral playing field and agree to terms of competition set forth by the Olympic committee. How is this accomplished year after year with little to no issues or scandals? Why can’t this cooperation be set forth among countries when it comes to issues like oil, trade, market, food distribution, etc.? Maybe the Olympics is a good template at how things can potentially be accomplished among foreign policy stakeholders. This is indeed a dream but how is it we cooperate more in sports than we do in life?

The Olympic games are awesome but let’s not turn a blind eye.

I have to watch myself sometimes in sports because I tend to lose objectivity in being a fan. If I get caught up too much in a game I tend to say things that are not exactly true because I have lost any sort of critical thinking. Most of us are watching the Olympics and I feel myself losing objectivity when I watch the various sports and competitions. I wanted to blog a series about it to help us think through what is occurring and to give you (and me) something else to think about.

First in this series is hypernationalism. As I watch the Olympics there is a part of me that wants us to beat “those guys” as if to gain a superior edge and to uphold bragging rights. As a dual citizen (Canada and U.S.) I am more aware of this tendency to state that our nation is better than your nation. I am not against competing but I wonder how much the Olympics already brings about hidden hypernationalism. “Is it wrong to cheer for the U.S., Canada or Mexico?” Of course not! I am not even against pride in the country where you are a citizen but I am against the language of superiority as if the other nations are “less than we are.”

During the Men’s road race Saturday morning I found myself concerned where the USA team was at but then my attention was drawn to Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan who actually won the race. Vinokurov is 38 years old and won Olympic gold! What a story! Those are the things I love about the Olympics. The underdogs… the neat stories where someone overcame issues to win gold.

Let’s watch for that! What would you add?