Something for the weekend. Chariots of Fire. I have never had much interest in sport, and I doubt if I will be watching much of the Olympics. However I did greatly enjoy the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, which told the stories of two of the British runners in the 1924 Olympics, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. If the film had focused solely on their prowess as athletes, I doubt if I would have bothered watching it. Instead, the film is primarily about religion. Abrahams, a Jew, looks upon his running as part of his life long battle to show his fellow countrymen that he was just as British as they were. Liddell, the son of Scottish Evangelical missionaries in China, has spent most of his life in China. He is a pure Scot, but his religion, which is his core, sets him apart from his society, as this reading from Isaiah in the film, dramatically demonstrates:
This all comes to a head when he refuses to run on the Sabbath in the Olympics in a dramatic episode of the film, which is not on Youtube as far as I can tell, alas. An accommodation is made for him, and he runs and wins a gold medal, as does Abrahams. Liddell goes on to continue his career as a missionary in China, and dies there in a Japanese internment camp in 1945, of malnutrition and an undiagnosed brain tumor. The film, although a bit maudlin at times for my taste, is an interesting exploration of the conflicts between religious duties and the demands of civil society. If only such conflicts were as trivial as those depicted in the film, and as easily resolvable!