The 2010 Winter Olympic Games, to be hosted in Vancouver and Whistler, will be upon us in less than a year. Many of you will know that I am not looking forward to this spectacle. It's been part of my own journey that I have gone from cheering the announcement of Vancouver's winning bid 5 years ago, to where I am today, a place which could accurately be labeled "anti-Olympic". The very short answer is that this has much to do with how the marginalized are victimized, and how my own views of power, and more to the point, the Kingdom, have changed.
Here's a couple of items for your consideration:
You can read more about this upcoming presentation and discussion on the Streams of Justice blog, but if you're anywhere in the area and have an interest in this, I'd encourage you to attend. Through various contacts and groups I've been witness to the full gamut of Christian reaction to the games. From those who are excited about handing out bottled water and tracts to visitors, to those of us with a somewhat more negative approach and a very real concern for our marginalized friends, you'll find it all here in Vancouver. This should be an interesting and challenging night.
On the same theme, Streams of Justice founder and my friend Dave Diewert has written an outstanding piece titled Two Incompatible Visions: Jesus and the Olympics - Reflections from Mark 3:1-6.
Here's a taste for you:
This episode presents a great challenge for us as followers of Jesus. His action puts us under obligation to open up space in the middle – the middle of our hearts, our lives, our homes, our communities, our social institutions – for those who are weak, marginalized, poor, excluded. The middle is the place of belonging, of being valued and deemed important, of being granted respect and dignity. It is the place of healing for those suffering from personal affliction, trauma, and the social exclusion that so often attends their experience. One might also argue that by situating the poor at the centre, a way of healing is also opened up for those held in the grip of the various pathologies that accompany the wielding of dominant power.
Yet this kind of radical action requires the dismantling of the norms of our current social order, where those who occupy the centre of attention and are ascribed greatest value are the wealthy, the beautiful, the strong, the successful, the educated, the experts, the professionals. Those with power, wealth and status stand in the middle and impose their intentions; they dominate through coercive force or economic influence or social weight. Yet Jesus displaces these ones, and puts the disabled, poor, impure, non-compliant one in the middle. Fidelity to him means that we take up this revolutionary and life-giving practice as well.
Of course, to do so would be to invite opposition from the authorities; such actions of non-compliance and reversal pose a threat to elite interests. Rather than locating the poor in the middle of our lives and our communities, the social norms and dominant cultural perspectives advocate that we keep them confined in systems of control to ensure their removal from our lives. Yet participation in the movement of God embodied in Jesus, which makes solidarity with the poor its fundamental stance, calls us to expose and resist the rationalizing logic and reinforcing behaviors of the status quo, and summons us to reorder our lives around and alongside the weak and the poor, to grant urgency to the alleviation of their suffering, and to prioritize their empowerment. This is the way of God in the world, and as Christ-followers, this is to be our way.
Dave's is a powerful voice when it come to the marginalized and the Kingdom of God, and it needs to be heard. Take the time to read the full pdf file here. I hope many of you will be willing to wrestle through these issues with us. We can start the discussion in the comments section.