Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Roar of the Crowd

In the Olympic Stadium, or Next Door?

About this time last year, the London Observer ran a story on the cost over run on the cost of the 2112 Olympic Stadium. Of interest to the British was not only the rise in their taxes to cover this over run but the news that same week that Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary group, plans to build a mosque next door to the new Olympic stadium

The London Markaz will be the largest Muslim house of worship in the UK, holding upwards of 70,000 people. Just 10,000 less than the Olympic Stadium.

Ah, the joy in good old London when the cries of the crowd go up, depending of course from which venue they arise. The benighted Americans whose military presence and security guarantee that liberated European budgets and politicians from the same responsibility have no equivalent. Well, unless you count a Billy Graham Crusade in Dodger Stadium. But then about the loudest sounds are the strains of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow (and I Know He's Watching Me)" or "Just As I Am" accompanied by a big honking portable Wurlitzer. And that is dear old waning mainline Protestantism, as opposed to new, user- and browser- friendly, low commitment non-denominational mega-churches that serve up Gospel Lite and lattes to-go.

To what kind of cries from what kind of organizing principle do you think fans of the modern Olympic Games will be treated from the vast London Markaz? Repentance, taking Christ into your heart, and hymn-singing?

I should at this point mention World Youth Day and ITS organizing principle, but do I really have to? Need it be said that whether or not it is expressed in Girardian terms (identifying with the Lamb Slain since the foundation of the world - Guess where Girard got that phrase?), millions of young Catholics gather not to hear tirades against Great Satans? No. They gather around the Eucharistic altar that is now also a table, led by the Pontiff who leads and evangelizes in the Name of the Word made flesh (John 1:14).

Mental experiment: Imagine the London Markaz rockin' and rollin'. Now imagine yourself hearing the sounds coming from World Youth Day?

What are your feelings about the former?

What are your feelings about the latter?


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