The Olympics and C S Lewis

The 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy are winding down.

Every time the Games are on, it seems most of the world is held captive by them. So much money – so much hype! I have never liked them and I had no idea why. Since they were originated in Greece —– I considered them “Hellenistic”! Not a good thing for the Jews …Neither have I read the “Chronicles of Narnia” or any of C S Lewis’ other books. This post I received from a friend seems to hold the answer. If you are an admirer of the above, I apologize, but I still hold my opinion. I will leave you to yours. Please bear with me on this one and ask the Lord for truth.

The Olympics and C S Lewis
By Berit Kjos

“During the ancient Olympic Games in Greece, a sacred flame burned at the altar of Zeus, in whose honor the Games were held. Its lighting signaled the opening of the Games, and its extinguishing signaled their end…. The flame itself is lit during a ceremony at the site of the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia…. Women dressed in robes similar to those worn by the ancient Greeks use a curved mirror to light the torch naturally with rays of the sun. The high priestess then presents the torch to the first relay runner.”[1]
C. S. Lewis would have loved the Olympics. Its roots sank deep into the ancient mythology that had captivated his heart. Long after he chose to believe the Bible was true (1931), he continued to justify pagan myths as precursor to the Gospel. In his imagination-rich mind, he believed that “Christianity fulfilled paganism,”[2] for the two were simply a continuous thread of the same evolving story. Lewis’ description of his visit to Greece in 1960 fits that persuasion:
“I had some ado to prevent Joy and myself from relapsing into Paganism in Attica! At Daphni it was hard not to pray to Apollo the Healer. But somehow one didn’t feel it would have been very wrong — would have only been addressing Christ sub specie Apollonius. We witnessed a beautiful Christian village ceremony in Rhodes and hardly felt a discrepancy.”[2]

The countless similarities between Olympic themes and the books by C. S. Lewis remind us that human nature doesn’t change with time. In spite of cultural shifts through the ages, humanity faces the same timeless temptation to trade Biblical absolutes for the allure of man-made myths. The lures of the Olympics — titillating tales, spiritual ideals, triumphant power, fleshly sensuality, and the vision of peace and unity — match Lewis’ enticing stories. Take a look at some of them:

1. WORSHIPPING ZEUS
Ancient myths tell us that the ancient Olympic Games were founded by the mighty Heracles (Hercules to the Romans), son of Zeus, the reigning god on Olympus. This ancient theme continues to drive the opening ceremony of modern Olympics. One revealing part is the Olympic hymn, a prayer to Zeus, the ruling Greek deity at Olympus:
Immortal spirit of antiquity / Father of the true, beautiful and good … Shine in a roseate hue and for a vast temple / To which all nations throng to adore thee Oh immortal spirit of antiquity![1]
Many would justify this pagan ritual as little more than an affirmation of a benevolent spirit that fits global demands for a universal spirituality. But C. S. Lewis carried this pagan theme further. For example, he presents the Roman gods Mars and Venus as visible angelic deities on planet Venus in his book “Perelandra,” the second book in his Space Trilogy. Ransom, the main hero, was transported to that planet by some friendly elvila, angelic messengers visible only by the light they emanate. On Venus, the nude Ransom befriends an innocent Eve and protects her from an earthly, demon-possessed tempter. The ensuing battle kills the villain but bruises Ransom’s heel, which continues to bleed until the end of the story — as if a fulfillment of Genesis 3:?15.
The third book in the series, “That Hideous Strength,” is set in England. Ransom must now stop a team of evil, totalitarian conspirators determined to rule the world through modern behavior strategies and ancient magical powers. But stronger forces stand by Ransom. Having traveled to both Mars and Venus, he has continuing contact with the friendly elvila. Working with Ransom and Merlin (the Druid magician featured in ancient Arthurian tales has been awakened from his 1500 year sleep), they summon the mighty powers of the planetary pantheon. The first god to arrive is Mercury (called Hermes by the Greeks), the “messenger” god of dark Hermetic magic.[3] Lewis described his mind-altering power:

“All fact was broken…. turned inside out, kneaded, slain, and reborn as meaning. For the Lord of Meaning himself… was with them… whom men call Mercury [or Hermes].”[4 - page 322]

Moments later, Venus, the goddess of love, arrives. Mars follows close behind. As you read the next excerpt, remember that in the ancient Greek games, the athletes — all male — competed in the nude. Homosexuality was considered normal. The fact that Lewis’ lifelong friend, Arthur Greeves, was a homosexual,[5] may help explain why Lewis added these details before introducing Zeus.
“The three gods who had already met… represented those two of the Seven Genders, which bear a certain analogy to the biological sexes…. It would not be so with those who were now preparing to descend. These also doubtless had their genders, but we have no clue to them….”[4 - page 325]
“Suddenly a greater spirit came…. Upstairs his mighty beam turned the Blue Room into a blaze of lights…. Kingship and power and festal pomp and courtesy shot from him…. For this was great Glund-Oyarsa, King of Kings… known to men in old times as Jove [ Jupiter to Romans, Zeus to the Greeks]…. Then… Merlin received the power into him.”[4 - pages 326-267]

2. A GLOBAL ETHIC FOR MAN AND NATURE

Working hand-in-hand with the United Nations, The Olympic Committee established a set of goals and “universal rules” for human development. These include:
“the promotion and safeguard of human rights, as historically achieved through the [United Nations'] Universal Declaration of Human Rights….
“the recognition – in addition to economic and social rights – of the principles of sustainable development.”
“educate people to the values of peace, tolerance, justice, freedom, solidarity and equality….”[6]

For more ——— go to: Web Site: www.crossroad.to/index.html

Berit Kjos is a widely respected researcher, writer and conference speaker. A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed on Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), The 700 Club, Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on “Talk Back Live” (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks. Her last two books are A Twist of Faith and Brave New Schools. Kjos Ministries

Home
Like the UN and Olympic leaders, C. S. Lewis saw a need for a global ethic. Thirteen years after he called himself a Christian, he wrote “The Abolition of Man,” which presents the Chinese Tao, not the Bible, as a moral and ethical standard for all mankind.”

See you next time,
Shalom, Sharaka

Tu b’Shvat

Happy Birthday, All You Trees Out There!

Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees is upon us! “Tu” comes from the Hebrew letters tet and vav since this is the numerical equivalent of 15. This year, 5766-2006, it falls on February 13th. This is Jewish tradition according to the House of Hillel. Shammai picked an earlier time as most of his followers lived on the coastal plain rather than the high drier areas. The date picked was counted from the time the trees stopped absorbing water from the ground and began to draw nourishment from their sap. This day then becomes the “birthday” of the tree. The 15th of the month of Shevat is the day the sap begins to rise in the trees, signaling the earth’s awakening from its winter slumber. Toward the end of the month, the rains will have tapered off and the first signs of spring appear! Trees begin to show their leaves again and the first tree to bloom is the Almond Tree, a symbol of the Messiah. It is called “The Awakening Tree”. All Israel waits for this sign.

A favorite saying of mine is this:
by Nikos Kisantsakis

I said to the Almond Tree,
“Sister, speak to me of God.”
And the Almond Tree blossomed!

The countryside now becomes a carpet of wildflowers – anemones, daffodils and primrose. Remember – this is Israeli time! Snow covers much of the western world now and spring seems far away here but when you love something you want to identify with it, know what is happening to it and try to be a part of it as best you can. Jews all over the world remember this day with great love for Israel

Tu B’Shevat is a time to celebrate the earth’s cyclical renewal. It’s a good time to contemplate our personal relationship to the environment – God did place man as caretaker of the earth and we have a responsibility to do our best. We are to worship the Creator and not the creation but we should take very good care of it.

“For as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people.” Isaiah 65:22

This day is also dedicated to the praises of the Land of Israel. It is one of joy because the Land begins to bring forth the harvest, produce its fruit and reveal its splendor. The Land of Israel is singled out as being a “good land” because of the fruits of its trees, as it is written:

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of rivers and springs … a land of wheat and barley, and grapevines and figs and pomegranates; a land laden with olives and (date) honey.”

Deuteronomy 8: 7-8

The Land of Israel is blessed with five fruits and two kinds of grain. When the people eat of these and taste their goodness and say the blessings to God for them, then they recall the Source of this bounty and their eyes turn to God as they remember this verse:

“… and you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the
Lord your God on the good land that He has given you.”
Deut.8:10

Jews pray this prayer after meals.

Eating the Fruits

The general custom is to first say the blessing over fruit:

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu Melech haolam, boreh p’ri ha etz.”
“Blessed art Thou O Lord, King of the universe, who brings forth the fruit of the tree.”

And then the “SHEHECHIANU” (my favorite) the blessing said for every new and special event:

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu Melech haolam,
shehechianu, v’kimanu, v’higiyanu, lazman hazeh.”
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe,
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this
special occasion.”

Some people eat each of the seven foods. Others try to eat of all the fruits grown in the Land, oranges, apples, bananas, carobs, almonds, etc. Jams and preserves are often eaten on this day – some made from the very fruits that were planted on Tu B’Shevat many years earlier!

The holiday of Tu B’Shevat – the New Year for Trees – symbolizes more than just a birthday or an Arbor Day (day of tree-planting). Trees have more importance beyond their beauty and utility. They are a picture of growth, renewal and the continuity of life. In ancient times, this day was an important milestone in their society. While it is not biblically mandated, as such, (see Leviticus 19:23-25. the first mention of this day is found in the Talmud – Rosh Hashanah 1:1 where it says there are four New Year days. First of Nissan, the New Year for kings and the festivals; First of Elul, for the tithing of animals; First of Tishrei, New Year’s Day for the counting of the years, the Sabbatical year (shemittah) and the Jubilee (50 years); and First of Shevat, the New Year for Trees (so says Shammai – Hillel says the Fifteenth and we follow him.) [Lev. 19:23-25 gives necessity for tree birthdays]

Trees were so important in Israel that when some conquerors were in power, they taxed landowners for every tree on their property. Consequently, many trees were cut down, climatical changes took place and the land went to ruin. One of the things the Israelis have done is to replant their nation with trees. School children take very seriously their job of planting trees every year on this date. Here’s a quote from Arutz-7 news Friday, February 6, 1998 “Tens of thousands of saplings will be distributed to the residents of Tel Aviv next week….in honor of Tu B’Shevat. Also 11,000 eucalyptus trees will be planted to replenish nectar supply for bees. There are currently 70,000 beehives in Israel each producing about 88 pounds of honey.” Trees will be planted all over the country. Several organizations have plans in effect to have a tree or many trees planted for people in other countries who cannot come and plant their own. The Jewish National Fund does this and Bridges for Peace, a Christian organization does also. They will have a tree planted in honor or in memory of someone and send a nice looking certificate to you for about $18.00. You can reach these people on the internet, a local synagogue – or me. You’ll love it! We have six trees there already.

Much of this information comes to you from internet – Virtual Jerusalem. Look ‘em up!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

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