Usain Bolt and Achilles

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds...

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds after his 100m victory at Beijing Olympics 2008, breaking the world record. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usain Bolt has become a legend. He has won back-to-back Olympic gold in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and the 4X100 relay. In addition to this accomplishment, Bolt holds the impossibly fast world record in the 100m of 9.63 seconds, making him the fastest man to have ever lived. Unless of course the stories about Achilles are actually true. Fleet-footed Achilles that legendary hero of the Iliad could run down anyone.

Besides speed, Bolt and Achilles have quite a bit in common. Both were self-proclaimed legends, supremely confident, and more than a little bit brash. As Bob Costas said last night, no one has a higher opinion of Usain Bolt than Usain Bolt. The same was true of Achilles. Continue reading

What Makes a Christian Hero?

English: The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, ...

In my last post, I wrote about how Christians should engage with the Olympic games. Since then, I’ve been pleased to see a number of Olympians give glory to God for their achievements. Perhaps the most notable of these athletes is Gabby Douglas who won gold in the women’s gymnastics all-round competition. Gabby’s winning smile and outspoken Christian witness have catapulted her to Tim-Tebow-like status among Christian sports fans. Continue reading

The Olympic Games, the Greeks, and God

The Games of the 30th Olympiad begin this evening in London, so the world will once again pause and reflect on the heritage that the ancient Greeks bequeathed us. The funny thing is that the ancient Greeks probably wouldn’t recognize these games. Lots of time has passed since Greek athletes last converged on Olympia to celebrate their quadrennial games in honor of Zeus. Our modern Olympic games probably tell us more about the values of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century than they do about the ancient Greeks. The ideals of the modern Olympic games are the values embodied by the progressive spirit of the post-Enlightenment. Both of these models of Olympic virtue, however, are problematic for Christians.

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