Category: Sport


AMDG

In the UK there is undoubtedly a wonderful feel-good factor at the end of a horrendously wet summer.  There is a big discussion about what the legacy of the summer should be.  For me the big difference has been how positive the media has been.  Many people have commented on how the newspapers, TV, radio and now the internet should be reflecting news not creating news. The reality is there is a complex relationship between reporting the news and commenting on the news, on reflecting opinion and forming opinion.  With the Jubilee and the Olympics the media ‘got on board’ and have had a huge role in the feel good factor.  For once optimism and hope has replaced cynicism and for me this is the legacy of the Games.  I often have though wouldn’t it be great if we could launch a mainstream, national, good news paper.  Not avoiding what is happening in the world, but at least balancing the bad news with good news.  There is a magazine called ‘The Week’ which gives a summary of the week’s news and how it has been reported.  I enjoy reading it, but my favourite bit is a tiny section inside the front page called ‘It wasn’t all bad’  with an inspiring good news story for the week.  Useful for talks, speeches or homilies!

The channel adopted the BBC News style in 1999

The most powerful news agent in the UK is the BBC.  I am a big fan of the ‘Beeb’ , the quality of its programmes, podcasts are world-class.  So when I have been abroad I often boast about the BBC.  However earlier this year when I was in the Philippines, a very smart and sophisticated young man listened to me politely and then very gently pointed out to me how they consider the BBC to be anti-Christian.  I was shocked but could see the arguments he made,  it was interesting to see how popular Al Jazeera was becoming there.  Mark Thompson, the Jesuit-educated outgoing director general of the BBC  has recently admitted so. In an interview about how the BBC represents religion (click here) he said that at least in the UK, Christianity was treated as being more ‘broad shouldered’ than other religions which are much more identified with ethnic minorities. He makes a compelling point – however I think that sometimes an excellent desire for ‘tolerance’  can be distorted, and much of the liberal-elite group think that dominates the UK establishments is reflected in a prejudice against Christianity.   How the news is reported and commented on is important it should try to represent the whole of the country not just metropolitan elites and their incestuous media cities.   This summer the collective power of the media has played a huge role in the feel-good factor, that should be the real legacy as we head into an autumn of strikes, squabbles and X Factor!

Below is a small excerpt of Mark Thompson’s interview – click here for the full length.

Beautiful Imperfection

AMDG

In a world that is driven by the cult of the beautiful there are many reasons to be amazed and excited about the unprecedented attention given to the Paralympics. We are so often bombarded by aspirational images and messages of unobtainable perfection, it is amazing to see images of swimmer Ellie Simmonds who was born with achondroplasia or ‘dwarfism’ where there where would normally be photoshopped models. I am visiting London at the moment, and had a spare couple of hours yesterday to visit the Olympic Park (although I couldn’t get in!) and snapped this picture. The closer you got – the more the enthusiasm and positivity of the crowd grew, the enthusiasm and good will was infectious. My sister took her young daughters to an unforgettable night at the Olympic Stadium the other night and told me they will never forget seeing an athlete with no hands cartwheel in joy on to the podium to receive their gold medal. What an experience for a young mind to savour!

The medal table currently has China way out in front with Great Britain edging second place in front of Russia. It has to be a good thing for disabled people in both China and Russia that the Paralympics is taken so seriously in their countries. China’s cruel one child policy and infanticide can only be challenged by embracing this festival of imperfection. Hopefully here in Britain, where children can be aborted up to birth if there is any proof of ‘abnormality’ e.g a cleft lip, the Paralympics may lead to a change in culture to. It would be wonderful to see some of the Paralympic superstars speak out on this. Why do the Americans not seem that interested? It is not being shown on US TV, and they are only sixth in the medal table. Strange? Maybe it is in the US where the cult of perfection is most virulently propagated. Ultimately this is a festival of hope – that our brokeness can be beautiful, and our weakness can be turned into strength most powerfully through the grace of love and support. This hope is brilliantly expressed through this Canadian Advert.

 

Tale of Two Armstrongs

AMDG

English: One of the first steps taken on the M...

The second most exciting footstep (according to Neil Armstrong) –  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lot of travelling this weekend so I was able to immerse myself in news.  Two of the big stories – Neil Armstrong’s death and Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace –  touch two areas I am passionate about, cycling and space exploration.  And what a contrast.  Firstly Neil Armstrong – the quiet, modest, pilot and astronaut.  Much has been said about his technical genius in landing on the  moon with very little fuel left, his ability to calculate and improvise.  Not much has been written about the spiritual impact it had on the astronauts.  All highly trained technicians and scientists. When they gazed back at the earth in space it gave them a new sense of appreciation of how beautiful, wonderful  and delicate the Planet Earth is. They were to return as changed men, men of stronger faith.  Armstrong’s companion Buzz Aldrin shared communion with him discreetly after landing on the moon – click here.  There is also the beautiful story of how Armstrong, when he returned,  was taken on a tour of the old city of Jerusalem by Israeli archeologist Meir Ben-Dov. When they got to the Hulda Gate, which is at the top of the stairs leading to the Temple Mount, Armstrong asked Ben-Dov whether Jesus had stepped anywhere around there.“These are the steps that lead to the temple,” Ben-Dov told him, “so He must have walked here many times.” Armstrong then asked Ben-Dov if those were the original stairs and Ben-Dov confirmed that they were indeed. “So Jesus stepped right here,” Armstrong asked. “That’s right,” answered Ben-Dov. To which Armstrong replied, “I have to tell you, I am more excited stepping on these stones than when I was stepping on the moon.”

Cover of "It's Not About the Bike: My Jou...

Cover via Amazon

In contrast. Lance Armstrong, who achieved an unthinkable 7 Tour de France titles, has had them stripped this weekend.  Like many I was inspired by his comeback from cancer, his amazing book, ‘It’s not about the Bike’ and also his superb Live Strong foundation.  Of course you are disappointed when the extent of the use of banned drugs becomes evident, it is simply cheating.  But I would still have retained admiration for Armstrong. However what has come to light this weekend is the incredible control he exercised over a network of former team mates, assistants and reporters.  His tacit admission of guilt has freed many witnesses and journalists to be able to speak without fear of retribution. The extent of the legal bullying that went on, the career destroying, the defamation of any whistle blowers, the pressure put on so many to collude in the cheating is incredible.  This ruthlessness and the single-minded determination is not glorious it is shameful. And what a contrast to his quiet fellow countryman who had a lot more to shout about.