Now the whole thing about American exceptionalism can get out of control in a hurry. Though jingoism is never good public policy and pride is not a biblical virtue, there is a lot about the American experiment that is exceptional.
So, it is a natural state — some may refer to it as our fallen state — for people to prefer their place more than another.
Even as the current national political climate is filled to the brim with sloganeering and catchphrases, it happens on a more regional level as well.
New Yorkers think they are better than the rest of us, Texans are positive they’re better than the rest of us and most Californians don’t really care, as long as the weather is good and the 405 isn’t too much of a nightmare.
A feeling of superiority often raises its head within the confines of popular culture during televised sporting events. Recently, we got that in duplicate with back-to-back major television events, the Super Bowl and the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
Producers of both events obviously believed both were exceptional, and both might have been surprised when something truly exceptional took place at the end of one of them.
The Super Bowl — America’s “high holy day” — where every commercial is as anxiously anticipated as the next screen pass. It is a thing devoutly to be wished by any Madison Avenue maven.
During the broadcast, there were plenty of examples of the unseemly and unbiblical exposition of prideful behavior on the field in between commercials.
Obviously, the game cannot be played the way it is played by shrinking violets, yet, with every touchdown and after a key turnover, much prideful behavior ensued.
It was when the game was over the “truly exceptional” thing took place. It was time to gather around the silver idol, aka the Lombardi Trophy.
The winning MVP quarterback took the trophy and thanked his Lord and Savior … the star tight end of the winning team picked up the trophy and thanked his Lord and Savior. Finally, the Super Bowl winning head coach took hold of the trophy and thanked his Lord and Savior.
I must confess I cringed at first when this trio stated their faith. I, probably, pridefully, first thought I don’t have to proclaim my faith from the rooftops and showboat like these guys did.
Then I started feeling a little small about thinking that and for assuming these three football professionals weren’t serious Christians who loved the Lord and instead of cringing, I should have been cheering their courage.
The Winter Olympics opening ceremonies was also a case of sensory overkill and just slightly less human hubris than was found around the Tower of Babel. Still we watched.
The lighting of the torch and seeing all the athletes marching into an arena arrayed in wintry splendor, allowed us to suspend our disbelief that at least for a short two weeks, we might dream of international peace, love and understanding.
Hey, if people could suspend their disbelief for the Summer Olympics in Berlin in 1936, anything is possible.
Like Super Bowl halftime shows, the opening and closing ceremonies of both Winter and Summer Olympics have become must-watch TV. And this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang in South Korea did not disappoint.
But the more I watched the opening ceremonies the more I felt like a subject in a mind-control experiment. There were the lovely smiling children in their exotic culturally correct costumes and New Age chiming music. . .
I was about to reach for my checkbook to write something to UNICEF when the first couple of notes of John Lennon’s “Imagine” began, and I witnessed something else “exceptional” happening, but only as a negative photographic cell to the color pallet of three humble men honoring God.
In a weird blend of Korean operatic voices and Western postmodern kitsch, the lyrics of Lennon’s most popular solo piece of music infested the opening ceremonies.
Suddenly all the happy smiling children and happy smiling adults dancing around the exceptionally dark premise that the world was basically a pointless cosmic mistake, dampened my spirit as much as the Super Bowl trio had raised it.
The great irony of it all was watching artistic dancers, sincere singers and Olympic stadium audience members swaying to Lennon’s hypnotic melody, knowing the Korean closest to “Imagine’s” paradigm of believing there is no heaven above or hell below is the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un.
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