Berit Kjos - 2002
The Greek Olympics - 2004
Olympic gods and C. S. Lewis - 2006
"The Greek gods would be proud of how things have evolved. During the ancient Olympic Games in Greece, a sacred flame burned at the altar of Zeus, in whose honor the Games were held."
"We must commit ourselves to the work of imagining our common humanity... and of enacting civic rituals that resonate with the music of our ancestors." Dr. Benjamin Ladner, speaking on "Solidarity" at the 1996 UN Conference on Human Settlements.
"... 7th graders in a growing number of public schools, who are not permitted to wear a cross or speak the name of Jesus, will be required to attend an intensive three week course on Islam... study the important figures of the faith, wear a robe, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own Jihad...." Public schools embrace Islam
There's a good reason for the Olympic flame's 13,500 mile long campaign trail through 46 states. As the sacred fire of the Grecian gods winds its way through countless communities, the news media can prepare the masses for yet another grandiose celebration honoring human achievement and spiritual oneness.
Rain or shine, the final torch will arrive in Salt Lake City on February 8 to light a massive cauldron before the watching world. By then, over 11,500 special U.S. torchbearers will each have carried the Olympian flame a tiny fraction of its serpentine course designed to inspire a sense of universal solidarity.
That vision -- one world, one spirit -- is reinforced by many other cultural signposts that prod humanity toward oneness. Today's fascination with popular wizardry fits right in. It doesn't matter that their magic, like the symbolic flame, is as old as the historical record. Though the modern world left occultism behind long ago, the post-modern culture is welcoming it back. Now Dumbledore and Gandalf -- the world's most famous wizards -- help point the way to an evolving spiritual vision that blends easily with Star Wars and tribal shamanism but excludes the unchanging truths in the Bible.
Strange as it seems, classroom Islam, too, has a place in this march toward global oneness. Wizards, Olympian flames and classroom Islam serve a common purpose -- one that America needs to recognize in order to preserve the treasured values that first shaped our nation.
First, consider the Olympics. The original Greek games began back in 776 B.C. when superstitious mortals worshipped the ancient gods on Mount Olympus. This idolized family of promiscuous deities was ruled by Zeus and birthed by Gaea (Gaia), the mother goddess of all - a useful myth that now fuels the vision for a global green spirituality.
In that mythical realm, Zeus' oldest sister, Hestia, guarded the sacred flame on Mount Olympus. In the real world, a sacred fire was lit on an altar to Zeus in front of his massive temple. But its light flickered out in AD 394 when Emperor Theodosius, apparently a Christian, could no longer condone the occult celebrations.
The Games were revived in 1896 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. In spite of his vision of international peace and harmony, they were soon reshaped by the forces of national interests, international politics, global economics and a supportive media. The most blatant show of political ambition happened in 1936:
"Far from rising above politics, the Olympics had fallen victim to a great war.... Then, at Berlin in 1936, Adolph Hitler had co-opted the Games... making them a showcase for the Nazis' hollow facade of a new and better Germany."
"Creating impressions of grandeur and potency was one of Hitler's foremost talents.... The Games would launch with lavish and spectacular ceremonies.... The sacred flame would ignite from the focused rays to the sun in the ruins of ancient Olympia, then be borne to Berlin by a relay of runners.... By this transfer of fire from the oldest Olympic site to the newest, the past would touch the present. A spirit would move across the ages...."
"The glorious scheme was set in motion amid the tumbled stones of Olympia. ... A 'high priestess' attended by 13 Greek girls in classical costume held a wand above a sun-focusing mirror supplied by the Zeiss company, Germany's famed optical firm. The wand burst into flame and was carried to an altar. ... A German delegate declaimed: 'O fire, lit in an ancient and sacred place, begin your race....'"
Hitler's fascination with ancient myth and mysticism fueled the fervor behind this ritual and laid the foundation for future celebrations. Notice, on the official website of the 2002 Olympics, that the pagan practice he revived has continued to this day:
"The Olympic Flame first became a tradition of the modern Olympics at the 1928 Amsterdam Games.... A torch relay has been held, in one form or another, at every Olympics since. The flame is first lighted 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 the sun’s rays. ... The high priestess then presents the torch to the first relay runner."
The torch run and the lighting of the cauldron sets the stage for pagan celebrations befitting the spiritual visions of global pacesetters. They know well that images and suggestions, rather than facts or truth, will best change values and introduce symbols that serve the global agenda.
So, when the 1994 winter games were held in Lillehammer, Norway, a new supernatural creature was announced to the watching world. "We introduce you to the mythical beliefs of the Norwegian people," intoned the CBS commentator. "Popping out of the ground are the Vettas, mythical characters rooted in ancient Nordic folktales.... All the children grow up learning all about them. ... If you are good to the vettas and consult [them] before you build your barn, [they] will be good to you."
Vettas? Puzzled, I called the pastor of a Norwegian seaman's church for an explanation. He had never heard of vettas but promised to do some research. The next day he called back. "There's a strong new move to dig up the old Norwegian myths," he told me. Apparently, the trolls and huldrer of traditional Norwegian fairy tales wouldn't fit the new environmental vision. Trolls turn animals into stone and huldrer have been known to steal children. The new supernatural needs an untarnished reputation.
His explanation matched the words of "environmental theologian" Thomas Berry. In a Sierra Club bestseller, The Dream of the Earth, Berry recommends a return to "a more primitive state" and suggests that "a new type of religious orientation... must emerge from our new story of the universe."
The world celebrated another "new story" during the 1996 summer Olympics. The crowd of 83,000 in Atlanta cheered as five "Olympic spirits" wrapped in silvery cloth and masked as sun gods rose out of the earth. Representing the five regions and colors of the world, they writhed like serpents while chanting mystical invocations to "summon the tribes" of the world.
These spectacular stories help establish the new ideology in the public mind. The need for such collective rituals was stressed at the 1996 UN Conference on Human Settlements. The two-week world conference included a day-long panel discussion on "Solidarity" where I heard James Morton, former dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, give his solution for wars and conflicts:
"What's needed is ...something analogous to the ancient acropolis, where today's diversity of national and ethnic customs and religious traditions can be celebrated and upheld for the enrichment of everybody....The new acropolises will... provide opportunity for sacred expression needed to bind the people of the planet into a viable, meaningful, and sustainable solidarity."
James Morton must be pleased with the Olympics. Whenever people around the world tune their collective minds to a single shared experience, they step a little closer to each other. That's just what UN visionaries have in mind. It doesn't matter whether the new stories are real or fantasy. Either way, they plant suggestions in the collective mind, usher in a new world view and shut the door a little tighter on the old beliefs and values.
The result is today's growing consensus -- a common understanding that the gods and rituals that were intolerable in the former era must now be tolerated -- even celebrated. But this spreading solidarity breeds hostility, not tolerance. Recent media eruptions against Christian "fundamentalism" shows the rage against people who question these culturally correct standards or cling to old absolutes. Standing in the way of oneness, such rebels are demeaned as "divisive" enemies to the envisioned global community. ["The Mainstream Media"]
As a token reminder that Christians, too, are part of history, Atlanta's Olympic medley did include a parade of "churchgoers" -- stiff, lifeless 28 foot tall puppets in elegant white dress and top hats. "O when the saints come marching in..." mocked the band.
Second, watch out for wizards. The "new story" for our times has many facets and friends - even in churches. Cheering today's pluralistic blend of religions, Pastor Joris Ridderbos sees "a lot of similarities between the story of Harry Potter and the life of Jesus." According to the article, "Dutch Church Celebrates Harry Potter Themed Service," he asked the children to come to church dressed as the student wizard. "As a result from his first meeting with evil, Harry Potter is bearing a mark," the pastor explained. "...I see the Harry Potter story as a new story that can make the old Bible story much more comprehensible."
Can it? Can a mythical story about the mother love of a witch illustrate the uniqueness of the gospel and the love of God? Pastors may multiply church members by molding the gospel to fit their tastes. But when Biblical truth is taught in the context of myth, it loses its life and can no longer be called God's Word.
These and other politically correct stories have blurred the line between the "enlightened" world and the compromising church. But it has sharpened the division between today's culture and those who strive to avoid compromise. Few things annoy contemporary wizard fans more than people who describe their idols as occult, pagan, bad or evil.
These fans can easily justify their annoyance. After all, their position matches the new global ethic and the glowing vision of spiritual unity. Al Gore expressed it well in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance:
"The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously throughout the world has. . . spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilization's responsibility for the earth is concerned."
Our former vice president offered Native American prayers, Hinduism and other pantheistic traditions as models for the unifying earth-centered spirituality needed to heal a "dysfunctional" world. His illustrations included Islam. But he saw an obstacle. Standing in the way of change are the old-fashioned "people of faith" who -- from a pagan perspective -- are "afraid" to consider today's more pleasing alternatives. [Al Gore's Vision of Global Salvation]
It's not surprising that churches choose to flow with this tide. Afraid to offend those who reject moral and spiritual boundaries, the new church management systems demand solidarity, not social restraint. Hoping to turn the masses into members, many delight in the popular paganism that proves their tolerance. In the process, they rationalize their compromise and close their minds to troublesome truths that could obstruct their politically correct mission.
Third, notice Islam's role. Islam may not match the UN model for a global spirituality, but its sudden fame makes it a useful tool in the hands of educational change agents. That's one reason why schools that censored the Christmas story have turned a blind eye to classroom lessons on Islam -- even when students must memorize verses from the Qu'ran, choose Muslim names and play games plotting Islamic Jihad.
The goal is not to convert students to the fastest-growing religion in the world. Few of the teachers who use fun games and Muslim robes to help children "experience" Islamic culture are trying to indoctrinate them with Islamic fundamentalism. The objective is to build a "panreligious" perspective, not little Muslims.
In the Western world, that means undermining Biblical Christianity, watering down truth, and blending (synthesizing) religions so that no person dare take a firm stand based on absolute truth. Few would then be able to maintain the strong convictions needed to resist the drumbeat of today's social engineers.
Islam adds a new ingredient to the prescribed religious dialogue. Remember the Hegelian dialectic (consensus) process. The class discusses a provocative story or experience. The students share their thoughts, feelings and ideas in the group. Everyone must seek "common ground" and empathize with contrary ideas. Factual rebuttals that might offend a group member are forbidden. Throughout the dialogue, a trained facilitator guides the group back on track if it deviates from its course toward the prescribed consensus or group conclusion.
When feel-good Islamic suggestions become part of this mix, they help shift the consensus a little further away from any Christian position. How many 7th graders are strong enough in their faith to disagree with a group conclusion that Allah and God are the same? Who dares to express the uniqueness of Christ, when even Prince Charles, first in line to the British throne, says, "We share as Muslims and Christians a powerful core of spiritual belief - in one divine God"?
This tactic -- used years ago to indoctrinate Soviet children with Communist ideology -- now pressures children from Christian homes to "open their minds" to new religious blends. Islam becomes a stepping stone, not an end. It broadens the options. As part of a classroom program, it subjects a child's personal faith to a psycho-social group process that pressures students to compromise: to trade personal convictions for a pre-planned "common ground."
And that is the key. We live in a world where -- as educators, politicians and business managers like to remind us -- "the only constant is change." The main objective is to disconnect the child from any spiritual anchor so that their minds can flow with today's managed change and group solutions.
Any god or power source will do. Harry Potter threatens the faith of a Christian child, not because the child would seek to be a witch or wizard, but because it presents an enticing source of wisdom and power that ignores the Bible. So do the Olympic rituals and the classroom lessons in Islam.
The Bible is full of helpful illustrations. In Old Testament days, God would withdraw His loving care and protection from Israel when the people rejected His truths and "walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart." (Jeremiah 7:24) Apart from God and left to their own resources, they faced pestilence, famine and wars, all of which will increase in end times.
We face the same consequences today when we turn away from Him. [See 1 Cor 10:1-13] That's why we would be wise to heed Scriptures that serve as reliable signposts in our troubled times:
"...when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them... your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God.... you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
"...if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods... you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God." Deuteronomy 8:10-20
But to those who know and follow Him, God says, "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
1. Official site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, "Olympic Torch Relay: Symbol of Games has come a long way since it burned before altar of Zeus" at http://www.saltlake2002.com/x/f/frame.htm?u=/news/667059.asp
2. Berit attended and taped this message in Istanbul during the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3-14, 1996. For more information about the UN-led transformation of the way we live, see "UN-Habitat."
3. Reverend Austin Miles, "Public schools embrace Islam - a shocker," January 10, 2002. <http://news.christiansunite.com/religion/religion01504.shtml>
4. XI, XII & XIII Olympiads (Los Angeles: World Sports Research & Publications Inc., 1996), page 103.
5. Ibid., pages 7, 8, 9.
6. Official site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, "Olympic Torch Relay: Symbol of Games has come a long way since it burned before altar of Zeus." Find URL at #1.
7. Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988), page 201.
8. Berit attended and taped this message in Istanbul during the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3-14, 1996.
9. For more information on the 1996 Olympics, see "The Olympic Dream: A Renaissance of Unholy Oneness."
10. Harem, Netherlands; "Dutch Church Celebrates Harry Potter Themed Service" at http://www.ananova.com/entertainment/story/sm_494079.html?menu=
11. Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1992), pages 258-259.
12. "Public schools embrace Islam." See #3.
13. "A Message from HRM, Prince of Wales" (1-22-02)at http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/campaigns/islam/nislam1.xml
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