SENTINEL 8-9-2012
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Golden Gabrielle

Adding fire to the Olympic flame!

The Firpo Files

(Sentinel, August 9, 2012)

American Gabrielle Douglas, 16, made Olympic history by becoming the first female of African descent to win the gold medal in the all-around competition during the 2012 Olympics.

As such (with twin gold medals), she was officially crowned the best female gymnast in the whole wide world!

When asked how she stayed so calm under the stress of being a young Black Olympian performing on the world stage, Gabrielle said that the "Scriptures" inspired her, and that the "Bible" was her anchor.

Olympic Background: Enigmatically, the original pagan games were highly religious affairs. In 776 B.C.E., the ancient Greeks honored Zeus with rigorous athletic contests at Olympia.

And while Delphi hosted the Pythian Games and Nemea sponsored the Nemean Games (which also honored Zeus), in the vicinity of the body of water near Corinth, the Grecian Isthmian Games were consecrated as being sacred to the God of the Sea, Poseidon. Nike was the Greek goddess of victory.

"The Olympic Games were celebrated every four years and were of profound religious significance," notes Insight on the Scriptures (1988). "Religious sacrifices and the worship of the Olympic fire were prominent features of the festival."

If ancient Greek contestants were resurrected today (see Acts 24:15, and compare 1 Corinthians 15:20-22), they'd easily recognize the pomp and pageantry of today's Olympic Games.  

Insight continues: "The basic program in all the contests included foot racing, wrestling, boxing, discus and javelin throwing, chariot racing, and other events. Participants took a vow to keep the rigid ten-month training schedule, which occupied most of their time.

"The training schedule was strictly supervised by judges who lived with the participants. The trainees often performed under conditions more difficult than the actual contest, runners training with weights on their feet and boxers training while wearing heavy uniforms. Years were often spent in developing the needed qualities for becoming a victor at the games."

"The prize was often displayed at the finish line alongside the umpire, inspiring participants in the footraces to exert themselves to the utmost as they kept their eye on the prize.

"Failure to keep the rules, however, resulted in disqualification. The games were the topic of conversation by all before, during, and after the event. Victorious athletes were eulogized, idolized, lavished with gifts, and feted. Corinth gave the winning athletes a life pension."

Biblical Gymnast?: The homage paid to Zeus during the ancient Olympics notwithstanding, the apostle Paul used a form of the Greek word gymnos (from which we get the English "gymnast") when he spoke of a Christian's "perceptive powers" being "trained," like a lightly-clad gymnast. (Hebrews 5:14, New World Translation)

In connection with the training of one's spiritual and intellectual capacities, Webster's dictionary explains that the "academy" was the "gymnasium where Plato taught."

Nationalistic Alternative to War: Instead of having scores of soldiers lose their lives, one popular notion that spans millennia is that national leaders locate a neutral site and commence fighting it out among themselves.

In lieu of this unlikely event, some nations elected to have their most skilled soldiers duke to the death.

Eventually, in an effort to spare the lives of these extraordinary warriors, war games came about to meet the psychological need for testosterone-charged males to act out conflict, hence, the distinct nationalistic flavor of modern-day Olympics.

"The Flying Squirrel"?: Though not intended to offend, some Blacks take exception to mainstream media referring to Gabrielle Douglas as "The Flying Squirrel."

As I state in my book, Wicked Words: Poisoned Minds--Racism in the Dictionary (1997), the ancient Greek word "pygmy," as per the Oxford English Dictionary, "Formerly applied to the chimpanzee and other anthropoid apes as the assumed originals of the pygmies of ancient story....Of persons and animals...often used in the names of species of animals."

Virtuous Whites are seldom--if ever--associated with animals in literature ancient or modern.

That said, for an appropriately confident yet admirably humble Gabrielle, if poetry was ever in motion, it manifested itself in a little Black girl who performed with the softness of a rose petal, the heart of a lion, the grace of a swan, and the precision of a hummingbird.

Through her breathtaking aerial antics and inimitable moves Gabrielle Douglas torched national barriers and touched divergent souls.

For many African Americans, as well as those of African descent in the Diaspora, the flame of the 2012 Olympic Games will shine bright for a long time to come as Gabrielle intones: "To God be the Glory!"

Peace and blessings to all. Amen.