True Olympian Virtue

Naheed Nenshi is upset. The long-time Calgary mayor is exercised over their lost Olympic bid, or should I say, the bid that never was, with the people voting overwhelmingly against it in a plebiscite, and the city council wisely following suit. Mr. Nenshi apparently expected the cash cow that goes by the nebulous name of ‘Ottawa’ –apparently, in Neshi’s mind, with vast swills of money to splash around – did not pony up more of its share of the nearly-4 billion dollar estimated cost to host the hoped-for 2026 extravaganza. That, dear reader, is four thousand million dollars, a number to which you could not even count in multiple lifetimes, and all this to watch a few hundred people engage in ‘sports’ for a few weeks.

I have nothing against athletic prowess in itself, the strongest and fastest competing amongst themselves, but the bloated, immoral excess that the Olympics have become has, pardon the pun, run its course. The idolizing of the human body and its theoretical ‘perfection’ – already a problem in itself as we approach peak performance now differentiated by what may soon be nano-seconds, much of it motivated by ever-more-hard-to-detect steroids and other substances, on which I wrote a couple of years ago – is now vitiated by the fully-accepted-and-normalized chimera that is ‘transgenderism’ with biological men, who identify as women – or athletes who look and act a lot like men – competing against women who identify as women, with expected sad results. Why not just have androids – or is that term now sexist? we could include gynoids, or just ‘droids for short – compete and have done with all the artificial artificiality?

There must be another way to hold sporting events, without the bloated entity that is the IOC, bankrupting cities and whole nations hither and yon. I am glad to hear that many people are waking up to this, and the next few Olympics may have no bidders at all, and the IOC committee treated like the snake oil con-men of yesteryear, with doors – I would say slammed, but let’s say gently and firmly closed – in their face. Good. Let the whole thing collapse in on itself, and the Olympics return to their true ideal, and to their more natural and more humble beginnings.

And speaking of new beginnings, on a far more important matter, the Church’s hierarchy will also have to examine in a very critical way its own raison d’etre, what it means to be a ‘bishop’ – an episkopoi in the original Greek – one who ‘oversees’ a particular portion of God’s people, a leader, a man well-schooled in what used to be manly virtues, not least courage. Need it be said that in our culture, the Church not excepted, we are suffering from a dearth – I almost wrote death there – of masculinity, which is not primarily a physical thing, even if it may call for such at critical times, but rather spiritual, the capacity to ‘see things through’, a clear-eyed determination to do what is right, both to stand one’s ground, and move forward, overcoming obstacles, living in accord with one’s principles, a leader, and protector from the wolves at the door.

I was intrigued by Douglas Farrow’s ponderings: What if Saint Peter were to return now? What sort of Pope would he be? What of his brother, Saint Andrew, whose feast is approaching…if he were now to be appointed to one of the major U.S. dioceses, what advice would he, and they both, offer to our modern episcopacy? How would they ‘oversee’ things? What they set up a lay-led task force, a oversight committee, a set of legalistic polices and guidelines to oversee the overseers?

Rather, as Farrow alludes, we would likely expect a veritable force of nature, a Moses smashing the stone tablets, a kind of Herculean house-cleaning of the Aegean stables – all in a new and Christian sense, of course.

As things now stand, most of our hierarchy seems to be ‘overseeing’ the gradual moribund extinction of our dioceses, parishes, churches, as the congregations die off. A radical new solution is needed, nothing else than a real and uncompromising instantiation of what Christ said at the beginning to both Peter and Andrew: Leave all things and come follow me.

And, on that note, a brief word concerning the new-and-I’m-not-sure-improved Jason Kenney, out to unite the right in the west. As the article says, Mr. Kenney’s views on homosexual and abortion rights have ‘evolved’ since a speech he offered two decades ago, recently dug up, which espoused more, well, conservative principles on these matters. I’m not sure what his evolution entails, but this does not bode well. Those conservatives whom we may presume have the proper principles all too often hide them behind complaisant platitudes, such as, ‘we’re free to love as we choose to love’. What does that mean, exactly?

Of course, we must wait and see how this all turns out, but I hope Mr. Kenney keeps his true course, or returns thereto, and the support of the conservative base that got him elected to lead in the first place. Albertans, and Canadians, don’t need NDP-lite, wrapped up in a blue ribbon.

Liberals, and the Democrats south of the border, are more clear and precise in their language, touting their objectives loud and proud, from ‘gay’ marriage to untramelled abortion rights to full-on ‘sexual’ education.

As Saint Thomas says, custom – which in our case more or less means ‘culture’ – always abolishes, interprets and triumphs over law. And we have given all those entities that form and shape our customs, and our culture – our schools, our media – over to the dark side, with future generations adulthood formed in the toxic intellectual stew in our public institutions, including almost all of our ‘Catholic’ ones, from the moment they can begin to reason.

And we still wonder why we continue to lose, the truth disappearing in the rear-view mirror of history. And without truth, as the poet wrote, the centre cannot hold and things fall apart, the blood-dimmed tide already upon us.

Back to that Herculean metaphor, and the hope it offers: We all need to become more immersed in, and convinced of, the deep truths we hold, in all charity, but also in all boldness, in that parrhesia that Saint Paul – truly a bishop – called for. Speaking the truth plainly would serve us well.

And while we’re on that, please do read over Paula Adamick’s take on Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a man the type of which we need more, disciplined in the crucible of suffering, trained in mind and body. I can only imagine how the 1978 graduating class of Harvard took his sombre and memorable commencement address, which deserves to be read in full. If things were as bad as he makes them out to be four decades ago – and from all accounts they were – how must things now stand?

I will leave you with his own somewhat ambiguous words, with which he concludes his speech:

If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge: We shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but — upward.