Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Games opening ceremony as public ritual

On Friday I blogged about the way U2 craft remembrance into their public presence. I noted how the use of a single line –

Where’s Frank? 13 years ago, this very evening, we said goodbye to Frank Sinatra

becomes a “moment” that engages, deepens and honours. Such “moments” humanise, since all have suffered loss of some sort. They invite reflection, on who we are and how we are. They invite connection, with those who’ve gone before, with those around us, between leader and participant. These, I suggest are the skills needed in public worship and in the crafting of liturgy.

So it was intriguing to see an analysis of the Olympic Games opening ceremony, by an Anglican Dean, also note the importance of remembrance in the ceremony, and the way that such moments allowed spirituality to “leak” into the public arena.

The other moment where faith broke through was in the invitation to remember ‘those who are not here’. After the spectacle and the celebration, what heralded the arrival of the athletes was not a grand rhetorical climax but the silencing of the crowd, an act of recollection, the words of a prayer. For yes, unbelievably, we had all of ‘Abide with me’ sung quietly while a simple ballet on the theme of being lost and found was performed on the stage.

Posted by steve at 06:17 PM

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