Olympic Games’ Opening Ceremony: Blech.

I loathe TV commercials.  But last night, during the short amount of my life which I will never have back, I thought the commercials were better than the Olympic Games’ Opening Ceremony.

I tuned in the first time while they were dancing around hospital beds in honor of the National Health Service.  I imagine that that was on the highlight reel the DNC and Sr. Keehan made for Pres. Obama.

The second time I tuned in, there was a rapper.  Since rap did for music what B&D did for romance, I switched channels.

From what I could tell in the Tweet-o-sphere, not many people liked what they heard and saw.

And today someone told me that they made the Queen into a Bond Girl.  Really?

As it turns out, they had a “cunning plan” for the Opening Ceremonies.

I like what Tom Hoopes wrote over at CatholicVote.org:

Olympic Opening Ceremony shows have become a way for a nation to tell the world how it sees itself. Four years ago, China told us it sees itself as “All Under Heaven.” What did Britain say?

10. Opening scenes: The British people see themselves as having gone from being Hobbits to being Orcs.

9. National Health Care is a song and dance that becomes a nightmare.

8. Modern Britain sees itself in the wildness of Caliban from Shakespeare’s Tempest, not the greatness of Henry V.

7. Their national trajectory, as displayed in the presentation: From greatness to decadence, from power to party, from class to crass.

6. It opened with the hymn “Jerusalem” and honored terrorist victims with “Abide In Me.” Even now, Christ is Britain’s only real hope …

5. The Sex Pistols were featured. Either the Sex Pistols have sold out to the mainstream’s consumerism, or the mainstream has sold out to the Sex Pistols’ nihilism … or there’s no difference.

4. China saw itself as a sea of perfectly coordinated drummers. Britain sees itself as a sea of perfectly uncoordinated partiers.

3. Danny Boyle’s presentation saw two revolutions as key to Britain: The Industrial Revolution and the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll revolution.

2. “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is a kind of national anthem now.

1. On the positive side: Mr. Bean is truly awesome.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

117 Responses to Olympic Games’ Opening Ceremony: Blech.

  1. digdigby says:

    “The Sex Pistols were featured. Either the Sex Pistols have sold out to the mainstream’s consumerism, or the mainstream has sold out to the Sex Pistols’ nihilism … or there’s no difference.”

    There. Is. No. Difference.

  2. Jim of Bowie says:

    I agree Father. It was awful.

  3. Southern Baron says:

    Then you missed the beginning where choirs sang “Jerusalem” and “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer”–the significance of which may be lost on too many, but nevertheless, they were there and profound enough.

    To each his own, but Father, I simply ask, if you were commissioned to direct the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, what would you do?

    [Go retro: Just have everyone march in and then do the bare essentials… as in olden days. This is getting out of hand.]

  4. jessicahoff says:

    I am sorry, I apologise. But imagine how much worse it is if you are British? It was everything said here and worse. The history was a travesty. Inclusiveness is good, but it would have been nice to have seen some more white people, there are still a few here. Nice to know our doctors and nurses can dance and do free overtime when it does not involve what they are paid to do. (Jess goes into corner to wait for British thought police to take her for reprogramming).

  5. jessicahoff says:

    Oh, and it cost us £23 million – I thought we were broke? (Back into corner)

  6. contrarian says:

    The point about the Sex Pistols is spot on.
    Three Cheers for Tom Hoope’s analysis.

  7. Corey F. says:

    Ah, yes, it opened with “Jerusalem” and then ten minutes later launched into a garish tribute to the Industrial Revolution, which, according to NBC, Danny Boyle apparently thinks is the “most important event in human history” or some such nonsense. Blake undoubtedly took a few turns in the grave.

  8. From what you say, Father Z, I wasted a good deal more of my life watching it than y0u did, and therefore I know much better than you how truly and even historically awful it was. Too bad you didn’t see enough to do justice to it with your superior powers of deprecation. I can say that I wasted DVR space to record it, but no power on earth could force me to view even a few minutes again before trashing it. Because this was even worse in the genre of Olympic ceremonies than is the typical parish Sunday OF Mass in the genre of liturgical ceremonies.

  9. acardnal says:

    I am sorry to my British friends here, but I thought the Opening ceremony was over-hyped by the press (what’ new here?). It was not very exciting. No where near as good as the Beijing Games Opening.

  10. Biedrik says:

    Nationalized health care? I thought the bit with the hospital beds was about Great Ormond Street Hospital. You know, a renowned British children’s hospital? The one that they symbolized with the enormous GOSH acronym. JM Barrie donated the rights to Peter Pan to that hospital for its benefit, which is why they had the kids reading under the covers and such. I’m pretty sure that part of the show had nothing to do with nationalized health care. It was about a children’s hospital and Britain’s tradition of great books for children.

  11. Mrs. O says:

    Mr Bean should have done his skit, Bean in ER, for their health care. I was unimpressed cept for Bean. Those who deal w disabilities were happy they included a variety of people w disabilities.

  12. Vecchio di Londra says:

    It is precisely for such occasions that a lifetime of not having or watching tv comes in so useful. The bits I saw today (online news) looked excruciatingly awful.
    And the waste, the waste – money literally going up in smoke….Which bit of ‘You’ve run out of our money’ do our politicians not get?

  13. Mariana says:

    Well, I liked the opening with Jerusalem and England’s green and pleasant land, hobbity hill with party tree and all. The fireworks were very nicely orchestrated, too.

  14. acardnal says:

    Now that you mention it, Henry Edwards, it did remind me of some very wacky NO/OF Masses I have unfortunately attended in my life. I remember one a couple years ago during Lent when the priest walked down the aisle during procession . . . . But it would be a rabbit hole to explain further and Fr. Z, rightfully, doesn’t like rabbit holes.

  15. Mariana says:

    And Abide With Me was nice.

  16. Corey F. says:

    Mariana says: “And Abide With Me was nice.”

    For those of you who actually heard it. NBC excised it entirely in favor of some insipid interview featuring Michael Phelps and Ryan Seacrest–just one of their many brilliant moves over the course of the evening.

  17. jilly4ski says:

    I came in at the industrial revolution skit. Some of the still shots were evocative, but it really became boring as nothing new really happened, until the ring went up. After that it really went down hill. Though I must say the Queen-Bond skit was probably the least of my worries. It was more like Bond was called in to protect the Queen for the olympics. It was pretty corny though. The party, boy-girl, information technology revolution skit was awful and long, and I spent that one browsing the internet. The lighting of the torch was also pretty disappointing.

  18. asperges says:

    Speaking as one who has no interest in the Olympics generally: I have to say that the criticisms voiced above about the opening ceremony are largely a failure to understand either the content or the intention or the humour, some of which was a little odd. Did no-one see the Queen’s participation with James Bond and the Palace at the beginning? Frankly, that was the best part. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19020220

    It was meant to be British, not American. There is often still a gulf in perceptions between our countries and cultures. Even our uses of language can be mutually misunderstood. This isn’t about rites and canon law, and saving souls or SSPX as much else is in our discussions in these columns tends to be, but about the whole Olympic Circus which has become an end in itself: spectacle, unreality and one-upmanship. All of these faults we do have in common.

    If we must have Olympics, have them in Greece permanently. The neo-paganism of it all I dislike (sacred fire and the like). I see some merit in sportsmanship and a lot of people seem keen on it. But, ladies and gentleman, with respect, and to use an Americanism, on this one, I think we might ‘lighten up’ a little.

  19. Vecchio di Londra says:

    acardnal – For heaven’s sake, don’t give them ideas! They might start parachuting from the roofbeams…:-)

  20. Southern Baron says:

    I must chime in at least partly with Asperges. Many of the criticisms raised above are actually criticisms of modern western culture, which, among other things, produces the Olympic Games. How can we expect that culture to produce anything but an image of itself? As a representation then of how many of us today see the world, I found the opening ceremonies fascinating. Not inspiring, and not encouraging me to emulate that vision in my own life; but to this cultural historian–it was fascinating.

    If we want to criticize the culture that produced this spectacle, well, isn’t that what we do around here most of the time anyway? Let’s be aware of what exactly we are criticizing. An Olympic opening ceremony in London is not going to be produced as if it’s 1953 for the simple fact that it’s 2012. Like it or not, this is where we are.

  21. acardnal says:

    Greece could certainly use the economic stimulus! But then again, then probably would still end up in debt.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    I ranted on my blog on this. And, it was all liberal and far left propaganda. Horrid. What gets me is that daily I pass up homeless people on the street, like on young man who has bipolar and another very talented musician who is an alcoholic, while the press goes on about the lack of money for the health system and the cost of the opening fiasco was 27 million pounds plus.

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hK3ZHgHyRLFGgFylJyPxUfH0kOtg?docId=CNG.2249ee77cd214cd016f6cfc488472e87.2a1

    Icky. And tasteless. Even Mr. Bean seemed lame and trite.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    Since I did not expect much of the opening ceremonies I was not disappointed.

    The fireworks were amazing to me, I really liked those a lot. And I liked McCartney. If I can be in as good shape at that age I will be truly grateful.

    I’m eager to watch the 400 IM today (swimming). Having done a few IM’s lately (at 1/25th of the speed) I have some appreciation for it. I’m definitely a Phelps fan and wish him the very best.

    I was disappointed that the queen seemed so disengaged and frankly inconvenienced to be there. What an embarrassment! It’s high time for them to do away with that archaic and wasteful institution.

    I really loved the young athletes taking the torch around and passing it from one to the other. I shed a few tears during that part.

    The “one cauldron from many flames” was pretty cool.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    acardnal, we have given Greece enough money. It is time they started charging their own people and others property tax and re-build their own infrastructure.

  25. acardnal says:

    Supertradmum, I agree. I was being sarcastic.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    frjim4321. sorry we love the Queen. She is a non-political representation of government. Charles, however…I think you have to live here to understand how much the Brits love the monarchy. And, I went to her jubilee celebrations. Long live the Queen, very long, I hope.

  27. Vecchio di Londra says:

    asperges: “The neo-paganism of it all I dislike (sacred fire and the like)”
    With good reason. This ‘ancient tradition’ of the torch, flame, ceremonial procession, eurythmic primal dance etc was largely invented by Hitler and the planners and choreographers of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, in an attempt to promote his pagan re-write of the world order, equivalence of the German and Greek gods etc. The ballyhoo then carried on post 1948.
    An interesting commentary here:
    http://voices.yahoo.com/the-olympic-torch-relay-history-tradition-started-1346759.html

  28. Supertradmum says:

    I am all for the athletes just parading out with the flags and a speech from the Queen. That would be enough glitz for me. Just let the games begin. Mayor Boris said he was brought to tears by the spectacle. I wonder why?

  29. acardnal says:

    Mayor Boris should have his own show on the “telly”.

  30. robtbrown says:

    tuned in the first time while they were dancing around hospital beds in honor of the National Health Service.

    And singing “You’ll get your MRI in two months”.

  31. JKnott says:

    “7. Their national trajectory, as displayed in the presentation: From greatness to decadence, from power to party, from class to crass.”
    That about sums it up.
    I don’t watch television but did catch a few clips online.
    Having a dummy of the Queen parachute down, pantaloons or whatever showing, was more disrespectful than amusing. I don’t blame her for looking bored and fiddling with her nails. The Queen is a lady with genuine refinement. Can just imagine what she must have been thinking. Poor thing. Embarrassing.
    What about that huge hideous monstrosity of a form from Harry Potter reigning over the chaos? It reads as a dark tribute to the prince of this world, and as a devilish mascot of the “games”.
    England has a policy of rationing in their healthcare system. So long elderly. What a rotten thing to celebrate at the Olympics.

  32. robtbrown says:

    I was disappointed that the queen seemed so disengaged and frankly inconvenienced to be there. What an embarrassment! It’s high time for them to do away with that archaic and wasteful institution.

    The monarchy is worth it just because it limits the ambitions of demagogues like Obama.

  33. BigRed says:

    Father,

    Yes, Blech, indeed but for the first fifteen minutes.

    Try and find an archived broadcast of the ceremony so you can see/hear the opening minutes. As mentioned above, in the context of saluting the four corners of the realm, children’s choirs opened with “Jerusalem” and then went to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Welsh kids sang “Bread of Heaven” which, for the movie nuts reading this, is in the opening scene of John Ford’s “How Green Was My Valley”. A spine stiffener for sure. Anglo/Scotophile that I am, I was in tears for those opening minutes and then they should of had the athletes march in but they ruined it.

  34. acardnal says:

    @frjim4321, The results of the 400 m IM are in! You can find them on the Internet or wait for the tape delay tonight. Of ask me and I will provide.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    Two months for an MRI? Wow! That’s fast

    As to Mr. Mayor having his own show, he does. It is called Mayor’s Question Time and it is very amusing. I know at least one college student who watches it for fun….enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVj8qOSj7Us&feature=related

  36. Clinton says:

    Didn’t watch, never will, got rid of the TV years ago.

    But I gather two things from the comments: A) “Jerusalem” was sung and B) there was some
    sort of tribute to the Industrial Revolution (!) as part of the proceedings. Which makes me
    wonder if those responsible for the ceremony know their Blake well enough to have bowlderized
    his reference to “dark satanic mills”…

  37. mamajen says:

    I adored the Mr. bean bit. The Queen’s entry was slightly amusing as well. Overall, though, it was one big yawn and reminded me of all the aspects of the UK that disappointed me while I lived there. The NHS tribute came off as a dark and disturbing rather too literal tribute to the nanny state. There are (were?) so many great things about England, but their culture is headed downhill big time. My English husband, who has lived here in the States for 7 years now, kept pointing out how weird the Europeans were, his beloved UK included. It’s like they can’t take anything seriously anymore. Everything has to be a party that can only be fully appreciated under the influence of drugs, alcohol, a warped worldview, or all of the above.

  38. Gulielmus says:

    I didn’t like much of it, but I thought that after the overdone spectacle and expense of the Beijing ceremony, this was going to be a let-down. In fact, I took most of the worst parts as being a parody of opening ceremonies. The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, and Voldemort being defeated by an army of Mary Poppinses? That could not have been anything but a spoof of the cultural celebrations of recent Olympic openings. I hope not, anyway.

    But I will take exception with the claim that The Sex Pistols were “featured” since during that sequence every conceivable type of pop music was included, from “My Boy Lollipop” to rap. They were there, but who wasn’t?

  39. heway says:

    Finally disgusted, I went to bed. Nothing in that opening would encourage me to visit London or thereabouts. Now I could sit through the Chinese ceremony again! It was clever and colorful. Danny Boyle should be hiding under his bed….shame!

  40. adamFERG says:

    I thought it was ok, I liked the comment of they started out as Hobbits and turned into Orcs. I thought it was good for the Queen to have a bit of fun. It’s funny if she doesn’t do things like this people say that she is stuck up and if she does people say she shouldn’t be doing stuff like this. It’s hard to be the Queen. I know it’s hard for Americans not to see healthcare as such a political issue but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them being proud of their system.

  41. pelerin says:

    It is interesting to see what Fr Z and other Americans thought of the opening ceremony. I was out all the evening and caught up with it today but have to admit that watching the first hour was enough for me.

    I read somewhere that the grassy mound and tree was supposed to represent Glastonbury. JKnott (above) mentions a dummy coming down by parachute. Actually it was a stunt man dressed as the Queen with a wig and make up – he was interviewed on tv today. The scene in the Palace was lost on me as I had no idea the actor meeting the Queen was one of the James Bonds. It wasn’t Sean Connery who I would have recognised.

    The one bit I did enjoy was Rowan Atkinson in his role as Mr Bean playing the one note in ‘Chariots of Fire.’ I think that would have gone down well world wide – he has such an expressive face. I remember seeing his first ever interview on television many years ago and laughing out loud thinking he would go far.

  42. mamajen says:

    @adamFERG I think most Brits are happy they have “free” healthcare. To say that most Brits are proud of the NHS to the point of celebrating it at the Olympics is a big leap. There are immense problems with the system, and UK citizens recognize this.

  43. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Hoopes did a good job on that.

    I actually liked how it started. I thought the industrial bit, with forging the Olympic rings was pretty cool from a special effect standpoint, and at face value. I’m not well versed enough on some literature to go beyond face value on that part.

    As soon as the advertising crept in for national health care, that really annoyed me. Any kind of commericialism woven into such an event would bother me. Ball fields and sports arenas used to have noble names; now they are named after some company and it changes every few years. Sickens me.

    I hated it once they got to the pop, rock and rap music. It was dizzying, disorienting, and at times, diabolical.

    I thought the two bright spots were Mr. Bean and the Queen/Bond piece. Sadly, it seems NBC is blocking it from being seen online in the US. Sites that were carrying it have had it removed. The UK’s Daily Mail had it embedded but when I went to click on it, it was disabled and stated the video was not approved for viewing in the U.S. yet!?!?! Control freaks.

  44. lethargic says:

    The Sex Pistols were there? I thought they were dead …

  45. Jael says:

    “I was disappointed that the queen seemed so disengaged and frankly inconvenienced to be there. What an embarrassment! It’s high time for them to do away with that archaic and wasteful institution.”

    My guess is, the queen was probably preoccupied with trying not to regurgitate.
    I didn’t see the queen, because I watched small sections of the boring opening ceremony in snatches. I like her a lot better than our current president. The queen has good manners, she upholds some civilized traditions, and she doesn’t embarass her subjects by curtsying to foreign kings.

  46. Legisperitus says:

    “I was disappointed that the queen seemed so disengaged and frankly inconvenienced to be there. What an embarrassment! It’s high time for them to do away with that archaic and wasteful institution.”

    Hear, hear! Abolish the Olympics already!

  47. Mike says:

    The whole thing was a moronic, trite, lefty, unfocused, disorganized, ideological, farcical, arrogant, base, overpriced waste of time.

  48. Jael says:

    Legisperitus: Amen and amen!! Gold star *, ha, you made me laugh!

  49. NescioQuid says:

    I’m really surprised by the extreme negativity here. For myself, as a Brit I enjoyed the ceremony and felt that it exuded greater warmth than Beijing, and canvassed the eccentricity of the British pretty well too. As for all the “lefty” characterization, well you have that in common with Tory MP Aidan Burley (the one demoted over his involvement in a Maximum themed stag party) who expressed the very same sentiments. For myself, and those around me, I enjoyed the historical reenactment of the Industrial Revolution, which was a pivotal moment in British and Global history. Ah well, creativity is always a subjective issue. I think the Olympics as a phenomenon are a very positive event in the cultural history of mankind. Collectively and individually Olympic stories are testimony to the human spirit. If you approach the Olympics with a different premise, then its hardly surprising that flaws abound.

  50. NescioQuid says:

    P.S. that should read Nazi themed stag party…(typing on phone)

  51. Jael says:

    NescioQuid–you probably realize we were joking about cancelling the sports part of the Olympics.
    My sentiments about the Industrial Revolution, however, correspond with those of J.R.R. Tolkien. The artistic merit and inspiration coming from the Beijing opening ceremony were ineffably superior to what we saw from London.

  52. MarnieBarcelona says:

    I left when it became an “omnisexual postmodern freak out” (from a re-tweet so I can’t give proper credit) and returned to watch the parade of nations. Love to watch the athletes compete, hate the show biz aspect of the ceremonies.

  53. APX says:

    @lethargic
    The Sex Pistols were there? I thought they were dead …

    Me too. Am I even allowed to listen to the Sex Pistols? I deleted them from my iPod when I gave up unbecoming music from my punk days, but I really miss Anarchy in the the UK. Hmm, maybe that’s what they wanted them to censor and they got all in a huffy about it. I’m having cognitive dissonance at the thought of the Sex Pistols performing at such a commercialized event as the Olympics. That completely goes against the punk movement. Well, at least the old punk movement.

  54. frjim4321 says:

    acardinal, thanks, I won’t comment here – don’t want to spoil it for anyone

    “The monarchy is worth it just because it limits the ambitions of demagogues like Obama.” That seems to be a bit of a stretch. First, President Obama is no less a demagogue than Reagan, the mythical darling of the right, and probably no less than either Poppy or Junior.

    Legisperitus, I was referring to the monarchy and not the Olympics themselves.

  55. “I tuned in the first time while they were dancing around hospital beds in honor of the National Health Service. I imagine that that was on the highlight reel the DNC and Sr. Keehan made for Pres. Obama.”

    Thank you, Father, for painting a picture for me that will haunt my dreams in the days to come. They could have at least had the Tardis drop in and Tom Baker pop out for an ovation. Now THAT would have been awesome!

  56. Kathleen10 says:

    I didn’t see it, but of course that won’t stop me from making a comment.

    I did see China’s opening ceremony, and was unnerved. I just read in a critique that their ceremony was a tribute to “almost inhuman” levels of sameness, or something like that. I agree. The performers were forced to work 18 hours per day for months in order to be perfectly in sync. It was said only North Korea could have done better. ugh.

    I would have loved the Mary Poppins. I think the Queen’s bit with the man dropping in dressed as her was in poor taste. I also feel sorry for the Queen. That, even to this American, seems disrespectful, to have her pantaloons showing. If you have a monarchy, give it respect. Don’t bring her down to the level of common culture. She is what you have that is special. When the monarchy forgets this, probably with the next generation, how can it last.

    These ceremonies are a turn off. It’s just too much. Everything is too much these days. I’m with you Fr. Z. Less hype, fireworks, flash, noise, silliness, and so on, and just athletes. It’s like watching a major league game now. Why all the noise and screaming, laughing and irreverence, drama, and whatnot. Just play ball!

    I also think they should have honored the Munich athletes. Our selectively politically correct world is annoying.
    And the treatment of the Greek female jumper for her tweet was RIDICULOUS. Except for actually daring to say the word “Africans”, I can’t find anything horrifically racist in her comment! (We all know we aren’t allowed to actually say “Africans”). For me, that put a nasty smell on the whole Olympics. What utter nonsense, and what a shame, to take away someone’s dream for such a non-issue.

  57. majuscule says:

    NescioQuid says:
    P.S. that should read Nazi themed stag party…(typing on phone)

    I think we are getting used to the new typing- on-phone dialect. But thanks for clarifying.

    I sure never would have guessed “Nazi” and wonder what’s up with your phone!

  58. Sissy says:

    Biedrik said: I’m pretty sure that part of the show had nothing to do with nationalized health care. ”

    The color commentary provided by the announcers specifically said that the producer had explained that segment was his homage to national health care because the NHS is supposedly a matter of great national pride to the Brits. Pity the British if that is true.

  59. AnnAsher says:

    I find the whole thing disgusting. I found it disgusting whenChina displaced families for the Olympic stadium. I find it disgusting the expense and waste of money, particularly now. Economies teetering on the brink of collapse. How many mouths could be fed? How many homes built? Instead of building this monstrosity of opulence and greed? Disgusting that people make million dollar incomes playing games. Blech on it all.

  60. Rachel K says:

    I despair. Here in Britain the media are full of it! A great triumph apparently.
    My husband watched every minute from beginning to end.
    We have spent the day disagreeing over it!
    I feel physically sick when I look at the “highlights”…then try to work out why I feel so?
    Many reasons- it is a great show of pride from the country which is the world capital of the Culture of Death.
    Too much money has been spent on it.
    Lots of it is in bad taste- most especially the demeaning of the Queen which I think was unforgivable.
    Although purporting to show our “history” and “culture” it only reflects one or two very small moments in the real history of Britain. Where is our Christian past? Our great saints, Wilfrid, Chad, Cuthbert? Our musical heritage? Tallis, Handel, Britten? We are not truly represented by the noise which passes for music over the past few decades! Our inventors and scientists over past centuries, Newton, Watt? Our poetry and writing? Shakespeare, Browning?
    Truly it was a narrow, post-modern, anti-Christian, amoral, blinkered, smug orgy of naval-gazing!
    Sadly, I am not surprised- we have really lost our way here and that is why so many people here thought it was wonderful!

  61. Rachel K says:

    One interesting point- maybe the link between Beijing and this opening ceremony is that the Chinese army and the NHS (health service) are the two largest employers in the world!

  62. jmgazzoli says:

    Playing their music and showing a video of them from the 70’s hardly equates with participation on the part of the Sex Pistols. In fact they turned down the chance to play at the closing ceremonies. If they couldn’t block what was done and allowed it, I’m sure (at least on the part of Johnny Rotten) that it was done ironically.

  63. SegoLily says:

    Yea, Father, what you said: Blech, blech, and more blech!

    How can anyone who takes Catholicism seriously as the One True Apostolic Faith really approve of Elizabeth II who is head of the C.O.E.? (Aside: Did ya’ll see the hirsute head and eyebrows of the Archbishop bobbing up and down behind her?) What she represents as head of the C.O.E. is profoundly tragic. What of the English martyrs????? Robert Southwell and Margaret Clitherow, pray for your latter day countrymen and women for they have embraced so much heresy and are increasingly children of Darkness.

    Anyway, the queen looked grey and dour. I find the monarchy and all its hangers-on repulsive, but that’s just me. She is just a figurehead who wields no influence whatsover and the Brits are leading the charge in the demise of Western Civilization. To be sure, we are not far behind.

    That phantasmagoric skit with the buxom nurses and artificial waifs and big, ugly heads of nightmare characters (such as seen at some Novus Ordo puppet Masses) perfectly captured the essense of Nationalized Health Care, and I think was a wink westward to Obama-Nation.

    The British athletes’ uniforms were tacky, tacky, tacky and they appeared to strut with an air of hooliganism.

    I did love Rowan Atkinson.

  64. Marianna says:

    I watched most of the ceremony (I’m British), and thought some parts of it were awful. But I think some of the comments above reveal the lack of understanding in the US of British humour and eccentricity. There was no disrespect intended to the Queen, for instance, and I’m sure she knew it. People here love the Queen. I enjoyed the James Bond sequence because it was so eccentric. I strongly dislike what I might call the fascistic tendency that so often characterises Olympic ceremonies, and their quasi-religious nature. But the humour of this one in London went some way to undermining this. I did wonder at the time whether the rest of the world would understand this.

    The bits I thought were really dreadful were the NHS skit and the mix of British rock/pop music. But I thought the cauldron-lighting and fireworks thereafter were spectacular.

  65. John Nolan says:

    Sadly, as the Diamond Jubilee showed, England seems to be losing its once-renowned ability to do decent ceremonial. The problem is popular culture, in particular popular ‘music’ which contaminates and degrades everything it comes into contact with. The once-dignified Albert Hall service of remembrance for the dead of two world wars has now degenerated into a tacky pop concert. What we spent on these wretched games would have bought us an aircraft carrier with a couple of destroyers thrown in.

  66. SegoLily says:

    Rachel K.–so aptly put. You have true insight into the deep decay of Britain and there is a genuine-ness coming from you rather than me. Hardly anyone goes to church there. Everyone is obsessed with sex–and proud of it! There may be a few academics who understand the profundity of Elgar, Watt, Dickens, Blessed John Henry Neumann, Cuthbert, etc…but no one really cares about any of that.

    The West is dying, dying, dying. A flickering ember will survive, and it won’t be in our lifetimes, but perhaps 300 years hence, after all the squalor of same-sex marriage, test-tube babies, contraception and abortion, divorce, pornography, greed, profanity, and debasement of humans has run its pitiful course that the Church will remain the shining City of Christ on the hill and we will recognize Him.

  67. Stephen D says:

    Danny Boyle, a lapsed Catholic whose practising Catholic father very recently died, who organised this rubbish, said at a press conference around the time of the event, for some strange reason – ‘I don’t believe in God but I believe in those who do’. His apparent confusion about basic matters was clearly manifested in his work.

  68. mike cliffson says:

    Never liked the ballyhoo or the olympics much, never liked the wellpaid internationalist tiewearing plastic hippie peace-and-sport-equals-love quackquack.Remember ghastly blazerati starting with Bundage or Bundance or whatever, so wise of you cousins to get the man out of the States to limit the damage he could have done at home, never watched an opening ceremony before , but , having heard the plans were to have history with christianity exised,.I did this time . In Spain. Live.(advantage: the Spanish commentators weren’t in the know, so couldn’t blether much.)
    Far far better than I feared, much I would have done differently.many enjoyable bits, for home consumption mostly, I don’t know if your stateside canned version had every last thing commented on and explained away .
    Fr If you will start in the middle, well , there’s things you’ll miss, even if a stateside audience would not fully get them anyway.
    Starting with “Jerusalem. “Glad they did. Much as I suspect there wereNO christians visuals to avoid upsetting “the religion of peace”.Or dawkins and the his mob.Or peta , the PC crowd, etc.
    The Anglicans have dropped singing it as a hym, it never was a Catholic one, and I don’t think it’d fit the feelgood folks anyhow.
    But it’s a throatcatcher, a heart warmer, for brits.Those who are trad enough or old enough Just lookforit on any last night of the proms on
    Youtube, maybe you’ll begin to get the idea. It’s more like the gettysburg address than the starspangled banner. It’s not exactly catholic, or baptized christian,full stop. nor in the least universal, but makes no sense unless you are baptized, or have some remnants of Christain culture. And come from a particular cluster of wet Offshore Islands.
    Look at the words, not one line of which do not appear time and again all over speeches and films and literature and…:
    AND DID THOSE FEET IN ANCIENT TIME
    WALK UPON ENGLAND’S MOUNTAINS GREEN?
    The allusion is to the Glastonbury fact and legend. The feet are Christs’s.You have to know that, the lyrics don’t tell you.. Glastonbury is now a magnifent ruin, despoiled byEvil Henry VIII .Go back beyond the newage nutters,tho include arthurian not-wholly-legend if you will, consider perhaps how it united Celtic and anglosaxon pilgrims, Go back to the second century AD – and you have the oldest known centre of Christianity in the British isles, older than t ‘other which is St Alban’s.
    Personally, even for a tinsel la-la of Britain, I think that’s a good place to set a historical overview rolling, and me, I’da had a once catholic,now anglican,church in the village.
    Were the Glastonbury Christians evangelized by Joseph of Arimathea? Highly plausible that it should have been via his commercial network, if not him in person.(need 1000 words here).Jof A in person who, also in person,left the weird thorn(1000words more)? Mebbe. (Helpful for Roman persecution, the area was then a bog , except for the tor, 9/10ths of whose access routes led to quagmire deathtraps.) But the monks’ insistance on JofA was enough to get precedence made for the English hierararchy over the French for centuries. (So worth it even if for that alone, surely?) As William Blake whose poem this was left in doubt in the following lines, the idea that Jof A was there in Christ’s youth , with Our Lord himself in tow, helping out with the lad like Jews do with an nth cousin they paractically all are,anyway,while/after St Joseph carpenter died, presumably on a trading expedition (tin for bronze, the med has copper but nor tin) is kinda cool and from venerable antiquity, but not THAT venerable, tho for Blake and noncatholics all belonging to the same general pre1550 protestant mental mist.
    AND WAS THE HOLY LAMB OF GOD
    ON ENGLAND’S PLEASANT PASTURES SEEN?
    AND DID THE COUNTENANCE DIVINE
    SHINE FORTH UPON OUR CLOUDED HILLS?Hobbits and orcs? most certainly connected, but as a leaf to this tree we started with
    AND WAS JERUSALEM BUILDED HERE
    AMONG THESE DARK SATANIC MILLS?
    Does it matter whether these feet were the young Jesus Christ’s or the earliest Christians, members of his body , alter christi each priest? Even if as a misunderstood patriotic song , we are going back behind the great beastly leap forward aka reformation.

    .

    BRING ME MY BOW OF BURNING GOLD!
    BRING ME MY ARROWS OF DESIRE!
    BRING ME MY SPEAR! O CLOUDS, UNFOLD!
    BRING ME MY CHARIOT OF FIRE!
    I WILL NOT CEASE FROM MENTAL FIGHT,
    NOR SHALL MY SWORD SLEEP IN MY HAND,
    TILL WE HAVE BUILT JERUSALEM
    IN ENGLAND’S GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND.
    St Patrick’s breastplate is obviously more Catholic, but this is much more ask what you can do for your country than vicecersa, etc.
    Modern trendies HATE this. It can be, and is , labelled hate speech, it’s uncool.

    So , they began well.
    The minutes silence for the poppy field. That’s Flanders, WWI, and all the nation’s fallen servicemen since, down to Afganistan today.I was surprised, apparently poppies are a provocation for UK-resident “religion of peace”. Uk , rightly or wrongly , has in common with Uk but few other places, that the boys come home year after year, some in bodybags.

    It could have been a lot lot worse, and the twentieth century was trite.
    Bread and circuses.

  69. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    “The monarchy is worth it just because it limits the ambitions of demagogues like Obama.” That seems to be a bit of a stretch. First, President Obama is no less a demagogue than Reagan, the mythical darling of the right, and probably no less than either Poppy or Junior.

    The point, which you ignored was obvious. Unlike a PM, the President is head of state and can arrogate to himself hero worship.

    And the last time I looked Obama was President, not Reagan. I am no fan of the Bushes, who were too Eastern money preppy. I did, however, like Reagan, who never was accused of being a demagogue. (I know of no examples. If you do, feel free to state them.) He was a citizen politician, someone, unlike Obama, who had a real profession before he ran for office. Reagan ran saying he would lower taxes (25% cut for everyone: 10, 10, and 5), put people back to work, and pursue the end of the Soviet Union. He did all three.

    Why do I say Obama is a demagogue? Although I don’t follow politics much anymore, I know this is man who ran saying he wanted to find common ground between pro and anti abortion forces. In fact, he turned out to be aggressively pro abortion, even trying to inject it into Obamacare. He also promised that no one who made less than $100,000 would have any raise in taxes whatsoever–that went out the door with taxes levied by Obamacare.

  70. robtbrown says:

    Should be:

    The point, which you ignored, was obvious.

  71. bookworm says:

    Apparently, if Twitter traffic is any indication, a lot of American viewers mistook the Industrial Revolution guy portrayed by Kenneth Branagh for Abraham Lincoln because of his stovepipe hat and dark suit.

  72. mike cliffson says:

    Oh PS:
    I did NOT like seeing the Great Ormond Street Hospital initials, gosh, and Logo followed by the letters NHS, for all that it now forms part of it.

    If that should suit obamacre so much the worse.Ever more statist, taxpaid murder at either end of life, contraception in the middle,and deathpanels.
    NOT how it started.
    But you can take that two ways.Great Ormond Street, the children’s hospital in London, predates the NHS, still retains funding from Barrie and others, had to be publicly fought for to remain some sort of separate entity, is dear to brits in London and quite a way around, and whilst a jewel in the NHS PR crown and a centre of excellence ,has been permanently a thorn in the side of the NHS burocracy. It’s an outrage to any tidyminded parasite in the Ministry of Health that any hospital should be difference from others, not fit on a nice chart, not be onesaizefitsall.
    Be warned. As well as organizing murdering, the chairborne ,even in Godlier days with fewer secularist agendas, have as a priority homogenizing everything to fit the lilliputian size of their minds and abilities. Your hospitals twenty years from now may still exist as the main building say, of St Anne’s , Podunk, ill, or wherever, but in fact except for intense public resistance in a few cases they’ll be the same inside as the next one.

  73. Luvadoxi says:

    I have to admit I loved most of it, especially the beginning (with Christian hymns as they used to be sung! Lamb of God! O Jerusalem!) and I really thought the rolling up of the green by the workers and the Industrial Revolution part was awesome and well done. It *did* look “dark and satanic” but that was what industrial cities looked like. Something Charles Dickens would write about. And England did start the Industrial Revolution, right? I remember them praising their health care system, but I don’t remember at what point in the show. I thought the nightmare/Mary Poppins sequence was good but hey–it would have been better with a few children, a couple monsters, and one Mary Poppins! The pop music stuff was just awful. Maybe it’s because I zoned out and got bored, but there didn’t seem to be any of the early 60s joy–what about Petula Clark, and “Downtown”, miniskirts and youthful exuberance before the darkness set in? That’s what I remember about being a young teenager in the 60s–innocence and joy. They could have reflected some of that but instead we get a weird house with kids wanting to run off and party, party, party. I looked at my husband and asked, “Did you ever go to wild parties like that as a teenager?” Neither of us did. Our parents would have killed us! Anyway, the parade of athletes was awesome as usual and I *loved* the Olympic torch, the whole lighting sequence, the fireworks, Muhammad Ali, the torch bearers, and the fact that the construction workers for the stadium lined up to welcome the torch in! Everything but the modern music sequence was just awesome in my opinion.

  74. Luvadoxi says:

    Oh yes, and the Queen/James Bond sequence, although I didn’t understand it until it was explained later, and I didn’t realize that wasn’t a Queen Elizabeth impersonator! I thought it was very gracious of her to participate. And the parachuting was just zany–I enjoyed it.

  75. Luvadoxi says:

    Even though we enjoyed it, my husband and I, during the Industrial Revolution parts and following, were reminded of the spectacles in the Roman Coliseum, and wondering when they were going to bring out the Christians and the lions….

  76. Luvadoxi says:

    Ah, Rachel–some Shakespeare was included–Kenneth Branagh (sp?) declaiming from the top of the Tor. That was cool!

  77. Luvadoxi says:

    Mike Cliffson–that was fascinating–thank you! I love all that legend and history; I’d like to read more about it.

  78. avecrux says:

    I watched much of the BBC broadcast online today. My parents are Scottish and I spent a lot of my life in the UK – and my husband is English – so it was interesting to me and quite thought provoking. I do think it was a snapshot of how contemporary Britain sees herself, and, for better or for worse, a look at how one very small nation has had such a huge impact on the entire world – especially in the realm of “culture”.
    I thought the fireworks were very well done and the torch lighting sequence as well, beginning with its trip down the river.
    I have abiding questions about “spectacle” in general: it’s role, what it does to create artificial euphoria around the fundamentally inconsequential, etc.
    I also understand the call to just lighten up and enjoy, but I find it impossible to completely lighten up given the content (the snippet of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” was more offensive to me than the snippet of the Sex Pistols. Both surprised me a bit, but also not if the goal was an historical representation of British “culture” – as I said before, for better or for worse. Didn’t any of you chuckle a little at the athletes marching in to “Stayin Alive”? I’m still processing that…).
    Am I the only one who finds Mr. Bean extraordinarily annoying??? Always have.

  79. avecrux says:

    I’ll just add that I was left thinking a lot about the impact that WWII had on the country and it’s culture… Rampant fatherlessness due to war casualties, PTSD in returned soldiers and those back home who had the day lights bombed out of them, etc in a “stiff upper lip” society. Their inherently musical and artsy society ended up reflecting all that trauma.

  80. Peter in Canberra says:

    didn’t watch the ceremony, probably won’t watch much of the events either (not to mention the time difference in Australia). I agree that the whole olympic ‘movement’ is a hedonistic travesty (and is becoming increasingly so with professional athletes and big spnosorship).

    However, I note the sensible comments about Great Ormond Street Hospital and wonder if our US co-linguists are viewing anything to do with health care just tooooooo much through the lens of ‘obamacare’ and the apparently defining ‘true’ US view that for the government to ensure basic health care for the commonwealth is a somewhat communist idea.

    And I am proud to say I am supporter of the monarchy, and especially of Queen Elizabeth. It isn’t perfect but I prefer the possibility to at least touch a basis of Government as somehow rooted in Christianity than a republic which would be almost certainly violently atheist. (that goes for the UK and Australia btw).

  81. Geoffrey says:

    “How can anyone who takes Catholicism seriously as the One True Apostolic Faith really approve of Elizabeth II who is head of the C.O.E.?”

    Easy. Monarchy has always been esteemed by Holy Mother Church, regardless of the religious beliefs of the monarch in question. Saint Peter said: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17). Saint Thomas Aquinas said: “it is more advantageous to live under one king than under the rule of several persons” (De Regimine Principum, chapter VI). Pope Pius VI called monarchy “the best of all governments” (Pourquoi Notre Voix, 17 July 1793). And before Vatican II, a special prayer for the monarch was recited after sung Masses on Sundays throughout the UK. I assume this is still done in the Extraordinary Form in the UK.

    As for the opening ceremonies, nothing can compare with those of the Beijing Olympics. This was just painful. Her Majesty the Queen is a very good sport for taking part, though the entire Royal Family looked bored. Mr. Bean saved the night. The march of nations was too rushed.

  82. asperges says:

    The prayer for the Queen, Domine Salvam Fac, is sung after our EF Masses still. It was even revived for for the Jubilee for OF Masses.

    I am appalled by the venom and extremism poured out this thread. I suggested “lightening up” earlier on. Geoffrey and robtbrown and others make excellent points without resorting to such violent language. Holding different views is natural, but the way in which we express them, says much about our charity or lack of it. Remarks for example about the English martyrs and therefore the hatred we should have for our Queen simply beggars belief in its insensitivity and ignorance of our culture, however well meant.

    BTW the Pope is a Monarch and so is Christ the King. The court of heaven is unlikely to resemble the Capitol. The deep (and very outdated) bias against any form of government which is not ‘democratic’ or an exact reflection of what they do in the US or the West is, alas not always the answer, as international diplomacy has shown.

  83. Jason Keener says:

    The Opening Ceremony was about as dreadful as the recent Super Bowl half time shows. It would have been enough for the athletes to have just marched in and the Queen given a short welcoming speech. I’m not quite sure why everything these days has to be turned into some over the top spectacle??? Sometimes less is more!

  84. Genna says:

    I’m not surprised The Queen looked glum. This is the second time in a space of weeks she has had to endure hours of the “best of British” rock/rap thumping beat music and over-the-hill rock stars. The first was her Diamond Jubilee concert. She’s 86, for heaven’s sake, and has just finished a gruelling national tour begun in March through vile weather where she was expected to smile non-stop and to carry on, even when her 91-year-old husband Prince Philip was whisked into hospital for heart treatment.
    It’s said she wears ear plugs on these noisy occasions but, unlike the rest of us, can’t just switch off or go to bed. I don’t know who advised her to take part in the Bond sketch but the parachuting of a double in bloomers was gross.
    As a Brit I thought the design and technology were stunning, but the content was absolutely awful. Why real British history was thought to begin at the Industrial Revolution, I’ve no idea. I guessed what we might be in for when the previews described the upcoming show as “quirky”. Translation: a mish-mash of “popular culture” underscored by whimsy.
    Given the parlous economic state worldwide, this was the time for commonsense to prevail and for Great Britain to be the first nation to take the brave step of throwing out the bread and circuses angle and reverting to the athletes parade, nothing more. An opportunity missed.

  85. Eric says:

    The olympics is one thing I miss from getting rid of my TV 10 years ago. However, if the accounts I’ve read so far, here and elsewhere, are accurate then missing the opening ceremony more than makes up for it.
    I would like to have a couple of things verified by someone that did watch.
    Is it true that when they led the barnyard animals out for the farm scenes that the Uzbekistan archery team had to be physically restrained after retrieving their bows? Also, I heard the late (I thought)Howard Cosell was scene marching in with the Cuban team.
    Thanks.

    P.S. Could we cut out all this chat about the Sex Pistols? You’re kind of wierdin’ me out.

  86. Robbie J says:

    I feel sorry for England, I really do. It used to be a great country. I have English friends who are old enough to attest to just how much their country and society in general have become limp and insipid. And it doesn’t look like things are about to change for the better. Not in the near future, anyway.

  87. Kerry says:

    Twenty three million pounds for glittering fireworks and packaging. Was there anything inside?

  88. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I didn’t watch the opening ceremony, because I was sure that I shouldn’t like it. But I think I might have disliked it less than the disgraceful comment by frjim4321 about Her Majesty. His comments here are rarely edifying, and his opinions on the British constitution are most unwelcome.

  89. amfortas says:

    We Brits must all seem like dreadful socialists to you Americans. Perhaps you should try looking at the National Health service through a British lens rather than through your own local battles. Do you have no regard for the millions of Americans without health insurance? [Why do you feel the need to belittle me and my compatriots with such a negative and absurd generalization?] Why do you always put individual rights above every other consideration? [“Always”? Is that what we do?]

  90. mike cliffson says:

    Lovadoxi
    Glad somebody appreciated it. Can recommend visiting the site, Glastonbury /Avalon IS the site of the OLDEST Christian community in the British Isles.The root is Jesus Christ , this is a very early graft on soil far from the holy land. Our lord told them to go and teach all nations, we should be sceptical that any of them actually tried to?
    I Know of no single ideal book or internet source. All to do with Glastonbury is great fun, but beware druids and gaia-worshippers, note that they are moved by Glastonbury but the devil leads their intellects astray and awry: hold on to the basics: Most important is our faith, coming to us from the apostles. Less important, but Important ,is the Human provenance: who consecrated the bishop who consecrated the bishop who………/..In each of our lay cases, from ourgrandparents and parents, from FRs x and Y, etc; for noncradle catholics, every step on their personal way is usually precious to them.
    So too for larger communities: Glastonbury and the martyrs (like St Alban)are the germs of the church in Britain that produced St Patrick and St David, From Ireland to what is now Scotland, thence back down among the anglosaxon pagan invader settlements, together with StAugustine sent from Rome to Canterbury…/.. hence its stateside roots too, though you have perhaps no drop of british genes, this isn’t racial.
    You could start here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHFshLsP2zw, mikesey1 is not me but it’s a good commentary.There is plenty of youtube hugatree feelgood blether about the thorn.But the thorn’s still there.

  91. Athanasius says:

    It seems to me the olympics are more pagan than when they were pagan!

  92. wmeyer says:

    amfortas: If we have no individual rights, then we have no rights at all. The Gospel calls us to charity. It does not say we are relieved of the obligation by a government taking of our treasure. Moreover, as one who has “enjoyed” government health care in Canada, I can say unreservedly that it is as incompetent a program as it has been my misfortune to see. And by all accounts, it is representative of the NHS, as well, not an anomaly.

  93. Matthew78 says:

    In a recent address, “Building a Culture of Religious Freedom,” given by His Excellency Charles Chaput of Philadelphia to the Napa Institute, he gave a brilliant insight, inspired by Kierkegaard, on the dangerous undercurrent threatening our society and religious liberty today:

    “To work as it was intended, America needs a special kind of citizenry: a mature, well-informed electorate of persons able to reason clearly and rule themselves prudently. If that’s true — and it is — then the greatest danger to American liberty in our day is not religious extremism. It’s something very different. It’s a culture of narcissism that cocoons us in dumbed-down, bigoted news, vulgarity, distraction and noise, while methodically excluding God from the human imagination. Kierkegaard once wrote that “the introspection of silence is the condition of all educated intercourse” and that “talkativeness is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness.”[6] Silence feeds the soul. Silence invites God to speak. And silence is exactly what American culture no longer allows. Securing the place of religious freedom in our society is therefore not just a matter of law and politics, but of prayer, interior renewal — and also education.”

    The opening ceremony was a perfect symbol of this imbedded, entrenched narcissism, empty distraction and noise that celebrates man’s ‘achievements’ in enlightenment and progress, while ignoring the intrinsic purpose of man’s life – to know, love, and serve God so as to be with Him in the life to come.

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/building-a-culture-of-religious-freedom#ixzz221Z0bQcl

  94. Cool Catholic says:

    Hmm – I’m tempted to say there are trolls on this discussion. The opening ceremony is entertainment, a show – and shouldn’t be taken that seriously.

  95. anthtan says:

    So sorry to see so many negative responses. I enjoyed most of the Opening Ceremony. Leaving aside speculation about political messages underpinning certain segments and musical preferences, I thought it was very well done. It was entertaining, spectacular, funny, and at times, even thought-provoking, beautiful and moving. I thought the Queen was a good sport.

    How about this for good news? Despite all the conflict and strife going on everywhere, the athletes of the world have gathered again in one place for friendly sporting competition. That country endured a horrific terrorist attack less than a day after it was announced they would be hosts. They have overcome a plethora of challenges and with the help of thousands of volunteers have successfully opened this festival. I commend them and wish them all the best.

    Slight digression: Based on this Zenit news report and also Dawn Eden’s <a href="http://dawneden.blogspot.sg/2012/07/the-pope-who-helped-save-olympics-st.html"blogpost, Pope St. Pius X was a supporter of the modern Olympic movement.

  96. mamajen says:

    @amfortas

    I am married to an Englishman, have lived in England myself, and we chose to settle in America for a reason. I can see the NHS through a British lens, thank you. My husband and I much prefer individual rights and all the opportunity America offers to being over-taxed sheeple.

  97. SKAY says:

    “First, President Obama is no less a demagogue than Reagan, the mythical darling of the right, and probably no less than either Poppy or Junior. ”

    Very funny joke, frjim–I did need a laugh today.

  98. wmeyer says:

    mamajen – well said!

  99. wmeyer says:

    The opening ceremony is entertainment, a show – and shouldn’t be taken that seriously.

    The opening show is generally considered a showpiece for the host country and its principles. It is supposed to be entertaining, but is also–and has been for some time–very overtly political. To deny this is to profess a stunning naivete.

  100. trad catholic mom says:

    Well I thought the Queen and Bond parachute jump was the highlight. It was pretty funny. I fast forwarded past most of the rest of it.

  101. Sissy says:

    amfortas: I don’t think Americans care about looking at the NHS “through a British lens”; we are only interested in evaluating it objectively. Many of the principles and practices of NICE which underlie the NHS are evil. Patients can be killed by allowing them to die of thirst. Children are murdered in the womb for defects as minor as a cleft lip. There is no “lens” through which the NHS can be viewed that would make it acceptable to Americans with any sense of ethics and morality.

  102. akp1 says:

    Having been to a number of smaller sports event opening ceremonies – I appreciate the work that goes in to it all, but it becomes very boring when you are actually there. The only bit I like is when the teams march in! A pity some of them do that bit so badly, rushing for the cameras etc. I liked the flame bit, switched off at Paul McCartney. At least I was out in a lovely Portuguese restaurant and just saw bits of it. Arrived ‘home’ to see the teams marching out. Can live without seeing it all! I really noticed the absence of any mention of anything more than ‘self’ in the various promises. But for those involved it would have been a great honour, and who knows what good the Lord will bring out of it all!

  103. mike cliffson says:

    Commenting for its own sake, now, meself

    I’m rather with Asperges, and not with mamajen: there’s a slight frisson of unchristian pleasure in you cousins not “getting” something , in that pretty well since WWII TV and films, even without directAmerican funding, are aimed at the US market: Edison is horned into tales , Isombard Kingdom Brunel is removed.
    For very once , what you will , this was produced for home consumption entirely: understated, allusive, full of injokes, careful to provide little excuse to people who plant bombs. It may have been a political statement TO the world: it didn’t look like it.
    I do not think your mediators of culture statesside, hollywood, alphabetsoupTV networks, mass bookpublishers serve You even secularly, let alone serve judeocristian culture, let alone Catholic culture, do correct me if I’m wrong.They certainly disserve any friendship UK-USa, except for evil, which has been the case for well over a century, as a general rule Brits are unhappy about this, Americans don’t see the problem and write it down to resentment or not-yet-found-a-role, whatever, this thresd has specimens.
    Not much British in origin have you ever had as in origen, for good or ill.
    Tolkein had problems, did you know?, even to get paid royalties. The people who decided for you, and who you still havent halted in their tracks. I am more with the original harry potter ” always tell a weasley, red hair and more children than they can afford” than the film(for the US market) “red hair and secondhandrobes”
    “See the nhs thru a british lens……..overtaxed sheeple .” Really truly? Do you WANT us to reply:”I do so love being written off as an overtaxed sheeple, so kind of you to discern a common fault in 60million people, would you like the reverse?. Out of charity, go back to the uk to convert them not to trashy catholiciscm but the american way “?
    I do remember when in its young days , the NHS WAS worth having, (and BTW the hospitals would have broken down overnight without the massive humanizing contingent of Irish and Irishborn nurses- who were staunch catholics.).,Americans were almost universally brainwashed – or really all thought of and for themselves? sure didn’t look like it- via the media and consensus into spitting venom- and it was venom, it was unexpected and shocking- at any Brit for allowing the NHS as a cross between the stasi and the gulag archipealago, when most american medicine was crassly materialist, lawyerridden already, before medicare etc .and sick people dying on hospital doorsteps for lack of the ready.
    Burocracy might , probably would, eventually have done for it, but the introdruction of murder did, it’s been slower going downhill than I thought. 40+ years now! And isn’t it odd that now the nhs is in the statists’culture-of-death camp, all of a sudden the stateside mass media are selling it stateside?
    A great deal more could be said. The isoapostolis Edward Kennedy! The…/…never mind!

  104. NescioQuid says:

    @Jael: the whole point of depicting the Industrial Revolution was to narrate a piece of economic history, it has little to do with sentiment. Whether you like it or not, it was pivotal in global history.

    @Majuscule: smartphone predictive texting which takes on a life of its own if you’re typing too fast…

    I agree with Amfortas above. The NHS is not without its share of problems, but there is no doubt in my mind that we as a nation are much better off than the US when it comes to healthcare. I found the representation of the NHS during the ceremonies whimsical and eccentric, no Brit in their right mind would ever gloss over the problems faced by the NHS. I like the US for so many things (particularly after living there for a short while) but it never failed to astound me that basic healthcare could be refused to someone who simply did not have health insurance. Not to acknowledge that affording healthcare is simply beyond the remit of some while others are lucky enough to be covered by their companies (as I was), or have deep pockets, is an injustice that ought to be remedied by taxes. What on earth are taxes for if not to distribute wealth more evenly and compensate for some of the consequences of financial inequality. I did not think he was making “negative and absurd generalizations” Father Z.

    And speaking of negative, your opening blog spin on the opening ceremony had one positive comment amongst ten! It was this negative tone which stimulated the slew of criticism here. I hope you do not think me rude to point this out as I respect your blog, but I was rather disappointed to see such comments. It makes us Catholics seem very stick-in-the-mud. For example: Hobbits and orcs…it was supposed to point to the creative imagination that poured out of England through the likes of Tolkien, Rowling etc. The entire ceremony was supposed to be a kaleidoscope of the economic, cultural and political events which have shaped Britain today. It wasn’t supposed to follow in the footsteps of Beijing.

    Incidentally, I could not believe my eyes when I saw one person complain above that he/she thought the multicultural aspect was too much, and the phrase “it would have been nice to have seen more white people”!!! Does this person then think that all the non-white British athletes are not British? Shocking to see comment like this on a Catholic blog forum.

  105. Sissy says:

    NescioQuid: you are not well-informed about the American healthcare system. It is against the law for anyone to be denied healthcare. This is nonsense. Were you and your countrymen truly better off with your healthcare than we Americans are, wealthy Americans would be flying to Great Britain for “medical tourism” visits. But, in fact, the situation is the reverse. I’m sure there are some folks in GB who have learned to be satisfied with whatever passes for “healthcare” in the NHS’s inhumane and remorseless “lowest common denominator” system. But we Americans are used to having the gold standard of healthcare available to us (yes, to all of us), and we will not settle for the indignities to which your system subjects you.

  106. Imrahil says:

    How can anyone who takes Catholicism seriously as the One True Apostolic Faith really approve of Elizabeth II who is head of the C.O.E.?

    Because she is also Queen of England. (Even a true Jacobite would honor the queen as long as she is queen, for she still fulfills a somewhat secularly-sacred position.)

    Dear @wmeyer, I won’t interrupt you or mix in in arguing for freedom, subsidiarity and the effectivity of nongovernmentality, but I will say so much: the point of being commanded to charity is not a right to be left alone by the public power when being uncharitable. And taxes can be a way to fulfil one’s moral obligation (at least partly or if very high) if given with that intention and no special case of necessity crosses your path.

  107. AnAmericanMother says:

    Nescio Quid,
    Having experienced both, I can tell you that the NHS has got serious, deep, systemic problems. Our local clinic was dirty, understaffed, and the equipment looked like something out of a 1950s American rural hospital — it was obvious (at least to me) that something was very, very wrong. And the fact that my friends’ American corporation flew them home for any significant medical care or dental work makes it even more obvious.
    The U.S. system has its problems, but nobody goes without health care. The proponents of ObamaCare slyly restated the debate that way, but the fact is a lot of people don’t have insurance, but they still get health care.
    Imrahil,
    Given that such a minuscule percentage of our taxes actually reaches its supposed beneficiaries, I’m not so sure about that.

  108. NescioQuid says:

    @Sissy and @AnAmericanMother I’m perfectly aware of the inadequacies of the NHS, and alluded to this earlier. I also know how much I have benefited from the NHS, whatever its flaws. And yes, since you mention it, there are plenty of immigrants who are attracted to the UK precisely because of its healthcare system… that spells its own problems, but that’s a separate issue and let’s not go there.

    You seem to have a very romanticised notion of US healthcare. I can assure you, I am very well informed. I benefited from fully comprehensive healthcare via the US university I was employed by, but there are millions of people who are less fortunate. There is no universal system of healthcare in the US.
    Here are some facts:

    The amount people pay varies according to their plan, and then you have issues such as “deductibles”. Millions of people are “underinsured”. When someone without insurance (or with inadequate cover) falls ill, they are obliged to pay their medical costs out of their own pocket.(That famous John Grisham novel “The Rainmaker” was a fictitious account based on the lack of regulation of insurance companies.) What is at issue here is not whether the US has first class healthcare or medical facilities, but rather who can access them…

    Half of all personal bankruptcies in the US are at least partially the result of medical expenses.

    Rising costs also mean the government is spending more and more on Medicare and Medicaid.

    US government spending on the two schemes is projected to rise from 4% of GDP in 2007 to 7% in 2025 and 12% in 2050, making rising healthcare costs one of the biggest contributing factors to the spiralling US budget deficit.

  109. NescioQuid says:

    P.S. This opening ceremony discussion has turned into a debate on healthcare…you’re welcome to add more comments if you like, and I will read them, but I decline to discuss the issue further. Cheers.

  110. anthtan says:

    Article: Olympic Liturgy! by Pádraig McCarthy, writing for an Irish organisation called the “Association of Catholic Priests”.

  111. irishgirl says:

    I saw only a portion of the opening ceremonies.
    I loved the early segment, with the childrens’ choirs singing hymns. My eyes filled with tears hearing ‘Guide Me Thou, Oh Great Redeemer’ from Wales-it reminds me of when I heard it sung at Princess Diana’s funeral, and at her son William’s wedding. (It’s not ‘Bread of Heaven’, as someone here said).
    The Mr Bean segment with ‘Chariots of Fire’ was rather funny (of course, I adore ‘Chariots of Fire’, both the film and its theme). And of course, ‘Jerusalem’ I love, too. I first heard that at the end of the movie. Even though I’m American, I sing that with all my heart!
    I missed ‘Abide With Me’, in memory of the victims of 07/07. If they were going to do that, why not have a tribute to the Israeli victims of Munich ’72 as well?
    The so-called ‘music and internet’ part was long, drawn out, loud, and boring. Could have cut that out. Too much hedonism….
    I loved the part of the Queen with James Bond! I thought that was outstanding! Could have fooled me!
    But I’m with you, Father Z, in your ‘retro’ comment to Southern Baron. All this splashy stuff has gotten too much out of hand. Give me the simpler days of the ‘essentials': the parade of the athletes, the raising of the flag (that always gives me the chills) and the lighting of the flame! I’m old enough to recall the years of past Olympics, before the Hollywood types got their hands on them!

  112. Darren says:

    I did not watch the opening ceremonies (and based on these reviews, I feel I was wise in not doing so). However, I did see a few images… and it was enough to make me (in the words of a great Briton):

    “RUN AWAY!!! RUN AWAY!!!”

    (Sorry… …I just could not help myself)

  113. Apologies for arriving late to the party. From that portion of the opening ceremony that I saw I have decided that it is time to replace the Olympic motto, which is currently citius, altius, fortius, with the now more fitting inanius, alienius, carius.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  114. @frjim4321,

    You wrote:

    “…President Obama is no less a demagogue than Reagan

    As true as that may be, Obama is unquestionably an ideologist (in the sense of the word as originally used by Destutt de Tracy in his five-volume work Les Éléments d’idéologie (1801-1815). Reagan was most unequivocally not an ideologist in that sense.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  115. TZ says:

    So far, all the opening ceremony videos I have found online have been “pixelated,” making them impossible to watch. (The frustration this causes becomes a kind of advertisement for the network, I think.) Does NBC own such exclusive rights to these images that they may not be replayed ever, even in the rather low-quality format available on YouTube? We do not have cable or satellite TV–I refuse to pay outrageous prices for what is mostly trash–but until recently our government-funded HD upgrade box worked, allowing us to see the occasional sporting event. It appears that once-local over-the-airwaves channels are now broadcasting only through the vendors. Sigh.

    As children we gathered with the rest of the family around the television to enjoy Olympics coverage, of course. Too bad it’s gone literally to the dogs, like so much else.

  116. acardnal says:

    At least the Catholic Church is doing something very worthwhile for the Olympians and attendees – 24 Hour Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2011/07/27/perpetual-adoration-planned-for-olympic-games/

  117. TZ says:

    After Avecrux mentioned watching the Olympics online via the BBC, I decided to check it out. Got an error message: “We’re sorry. We can’t show this content in your location.” I’m in the good old USA, of course.

    Sigh. (Again.)