Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Olympic stories I liked

If you knew nothing else about what a topsy-turvy couple of years the Wuhan Coronavirus and official response to it bequeathed to the world, you might guess that something big and destabilizing had happened just by watching "Tokyo 2020" signage on TV in the summer of 2021.

An Olympics without spectators seems wrong. I don't envy the people in charge of programming the choices they've had to make, either. But in spite of those constraints, a few athletes and athletic stories nevertheless inspire:

  • Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz impressed me with her improvised water-jugs-on-a-yoke training tools.
  • American Lee Kiefer -- gold medal in fencing while going to medical school? Whoa!
  • American swimmer Lydia Jacoby has the best cheering section I've seen. And she plays bluegrass bass in whatever spare time she can find.
  • It was fun to see Poland win the inaugural 4x400m mixed relay.
  • Ya gotta love a diver who qualifies for the Olympic final at age 41, as Japan's Ken Terauchi did.
  • Wrestling gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock made news for enthusing about how much she loves representing America. I like that. She's great. But if she had a chat with NBC commentator Mike Tirico, I missed it.
The people writing human interest stories about American athletes haven't dug as deep as they might have had to in the good old days when Sports Illustrated was running stories by the likes of Frank Deford, but the one-two finish by Katie Ledecky and Erica Sullivan in the 1,500 meters also moved me. Ledecky has charisma, a metric mile is a really long swim, and anyone who medals in that event is amazing. 

Ditto the one-two finish for the US in the women's 400-meter hurdles by Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammed. Both women enthusiastically endorsed their "iron sharpens iron" rivalry, and both seem appropriately regal on the track.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Sophistry of the highest order

I graduated from a nominally Jesuit-run university and was glad for having had the chance to go to college at that school. Even so, there are multiple reasons why "Jesuitical" as an adjective has a perjorative connotation, and  -- sadly -- what Pope Francis just did won't help restore luster to that word. 

Basically, Francis today approved the publication of an official "moto proprio" that pours rainwater all over one of his immediate predecessor's more popular initiatives. 

It's now clear that Pope Benedict XVI was wrong to resign in 2013 -- unless perhaps his resignation was part of a divine plan to chastise the Church for awhile, which it might well have been, based on lots of what we've seen since then.

Ironically for someone in his position, Pope Francis is no fan of the most venerable form of the Mass we have. Even more ironically, his order today shackles the celebration of the Mass in Latin by using a document form with a Latin title which means "On his own impulse."

Sheesh. This Catholic wishes that Pope Francis had more impulse control.

Here -- in part -- is why the new edict stinks (You can be gentle and call it "ill-conceived," if you like). Fr. Dwight Longenecker's pitch for "subversive obedience" got my attention, also, as did Father John Zuhlsdorf's hot take

Those two priests argue more persuasively (to my ears, at least) than the biretta-fearing columnist for National Catholic Reporter who says this change was forced on Pope Francis by bad behavior from people like the aforementioned Father Z.