Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 08/06/21

The Cultural Olympics. The Olympics come to a close this weekend. The games – and the athletes – actually touched on a lot issues our society is dealing with right now. For what their worth, here are my thoughts.

Simone Biles. The superstar Olympic gymnast pulled out of a couple of events due to mental stress leading to a physical phenomenon known as “the twisties.” The issue of whether she should have “pushed through” was discussed on AT&T’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

IMHO: I have to part company with some conservatives who I usually agree with on this one. The way I see it (from the safety of my desk chair) is that Simone Biles did everything right and deserves to be commended not only for great performances that brought our country two Olympic medals but for having the wisdom and, yes, courage to take a stand for her own health.

She reported experiencing the twisties, a condition which according to Newsweek is “as a mental block when an athlete loses their spatial awareness during an intense routine, which could lead to serious injuries. It is widely-experienced by gymnasts performing dizzyingly quick routines and many find it terrifying.” To those people saying she should have just “pushed through” I have to ask if you would give the same advance to your airline pilot if he or she was having a bout with the condition. Would you want that person to go ahead and try to stick the landing if your personal health (and, perhaps, life) was a stake?

By standing up for herself she was in a very American way standing up for all people who are pressured (often by government) to do things that they perceive as against their better judgment and their interests. 

Yet, at the same time, she was also putting her team first – realizing that if she were not at her best she could drag her teammates down. One pundit mistakenly suggested that she was taking up a slot in the competition that could have been taken by someone else. But the reverse is true. By pulling out of an event she knew she wasn’t up to at the time, she opened up a slot for teammate MyKayla Skinner who replaced her and went on to win a silver medal. Biles, BTW, was right there rooting for her.

The entire US Women’s Gymnastics team showed grace and dignity not only through their spectacular performances but also through clear love and support for one another. They did our country proud.

US female wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock and the US Women’s Soccer team. Now here’s a study in contrasts.

IMHO: Tamyra’s simultaneous joy, pride, gratitude, humility and, yes, patriotism is about as uplifting and refreshing as it gets. I am so glad she won the gold and is representing America on the world stage. BTW, you can see her entire interview here. It’s well worth checking out.

Meanwhile, the US Women’s Soccer team managed to win a bronze which is also a great accomplishment. I just don’t find myself caring that much. And it’s not just their smug virtue signaling (someone cleverly suggested that they might have copped the gold if it weren’t for their knee injuries). Whether it be Alex Morgan mocking the British team they defeated in 2019 or Megan Rapinoe‘s “Obviously we never want to lose to Canada” line after being outplayed by the Canadians during these games, the US Women’s Soccer team has demonstrated remarkably poor sportsmanship. Despite their talent, I personally don’t think they represent America very well.

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard. The New Zealander made history and sparked debate by competing against women at the Tokyo games. I think journalist John Stossel did a good job of reporting on the issue fairly.

IMHO: Ironically, Hubbard’s relatively poor performance at the Olympics may be a point in favor of transgender participation in women’s sports. She was, after all, soundly beaten by naturally biological women. On the other hand, those women would have soundly beaten me too. Overall, I think the evidence weighs heavily against the idea that it’s fair to force naturally biological women to compete against athletes who were born male. BTW, just curious, what is the record of transgender men competing against naturally biological men? I honestly don’t know the answer but the data would be interesting to see.

Those Woke Olympic ads. Columnist Eddie Scarry writes “As if it weren’t bad enough that viewers have had to suffer Woke protests, symbols and gestures from athletes at the Olympics, they also have to endure TV ad after TV ad stuffed with insufferable social-justice preaching. But it’s 2021, and corporations are desperate to woke-wash their brands, so here we are.” As a specific example, he offers this Nike spot.

IMHO: Overall, I predict these highly spoofable super-Woke ads will age about as well as Cuomo’s Emmy.

Cancel Culture and Cultural Appropriation at the Olympics. Opening and closing with Bill Maher, here are his thoughts

IMHO: I don’t agree with Bill about everything but his assessment of the “Woke Penal Code” and its negative impact on just about every aspect of society, including The Olympics, is spot on. I too long for the days when liberals stood against intolerance and for empathy. I’d just add that Wokism is like a severe judgmental religion that traffics in shame and makes little to no room for the mercy, grace and redemption found in positive faith. God help us if we continue to give it power. I have faith we won’t though. The tide is turning.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11






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