I'm always filled with a sense of melancholy when I watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. It's a beautiful—if sometimes over-the-top—spectacle, filled with all those robust, attractive, and smiling athletes, from all manner of (and often warring) nations, smiling and laughing and having a wonderful time together. But there's always a twinge of sadness as I watch.

The subtext and supratext of the Olympics, of course, is world peace. We hear plenty, in the ceremony and by the announcers, about good will among the nations. It's never quite said so naively, but it surely is implied, that if we can get together like this for a couple of weeks every two years, maybe the nations can learn to turn their swords and into ice skates.

As Chicago Tribune sports columnist Rick Morrissey put it, "This was a night to be reminded that something like peace is possible, even if history would tell us otherwise. Even if history would laugh in our faces at our silly ideas." The cynical Morrissey feels compelled to add those lines about history because he knows that bit about peace sounds corny. But it's not silly. Any decent human being should wish for nothing less.

And certainly no Christian should. "Thy kingdom come … " we pray regularly. Indeed, the hope of the Olympics is fundamentally a Christian hope.

Still there's that poignancy. On the one hand, we have an earnest Yoko Ono proclaiming, ""If one billion people in the world think peace, we'll have peace," followed by her late husband's song, "Imagine," whose second stanza says:

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace.

It's nationalism and religion that kill people, says John ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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