Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bishop of Chelmsford on the Olympic 'legacy of goodwill'

The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, has praised the vital legacy of London 2012 saying that in his own diocese – home to the Olympic Park and Village – and beyond, the Games are having an important impact on community life. He writes:

"It isn’t the first time that the world has come to the East End of London. Waves of immigration have shaped the culture and aspirations of this most resourceful and diverse bit of England over many centuries. This has irrigated the whole of our culture, changing it in many ways.

"The London borough of Newham is in the Anglican diocese of Chelmsford , where I serve as Bishop. Alongside its many deprivations and challenges, I know it as a place of vibrant faith and irrepressible creativity.

"Now it has been athletes and tourists, the world’s media and, with them, the eyes of millions of people around the globe who have come to Stratford . We have all seen some marvellous and inspiring things, cheering medal winners and finding new and strange enthusiasm for sports we had hitherto barely heard of. There has been much talk of the legacy that will be left behind. The vast and impressive buildings of the Olympic Park and the Olympic Village will indeed bring much needed regeneration. But I am beginning to wonder whether the Olympic legacy may bring a further change as well: a legacy of good will.

"I was lucky enough to be in the stadium last week to see Usain Bolt win the 200 metres. It was a fantastic experience. On the train home I sat and chatted with one of the hundreds of Olympic volunteers. Each day she was doing the 2.30-10.30 shift outside Stratford station ushering great tides of people this way and that, making sure no one was lost, remaining unfailingly cheerful. OK, it isn’t the same as winning a gold medal, but her achievement is also heroic. Here is a big society worked out in the astonishing little details of selfless charity and kindness. And there are indeed hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. And the example of their simple, cheerful goodness is very inspiring. Last week I also met a 17 year old who is on duty at Stansted airport every other morning. There is nothing very glamorous about this. But she wanted to be part of it; part of something bigger than herself. She wanted to do something. So she is spending her summer welcoming strangers.

"At the same time, many of us have not only found ourselves surprised by the joy of the Olympics, we have rediscovered a desire to celebrate it with our neighbour. In community gatherings large and small – and the largest I have come across was organised by local churches and gathered ten thousand people in Central Park, Dagenham to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen – we have expressed our own need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It all just seemed too important, to special to watch on our own.

"Commentators, marvelling at the efficiency with which these Games have been put together, have said it is the largest logistical exercise in Britain since the Second World War. It might also be one of the largest outpourings of good will. This is an Olympic legacy worth holding onto: the desire to serve my neighbour and the desire to celebrate with my neighbour. It is with these things that communities are built."


Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Steady on +Chelmsford !

One should never be over awed at what a couple of billion of OUR money blown over a two week period can achieve...

Still, party’s nearly over now, and one awaits with eagerness and trepidation the lasting ‘benefits’ that have cost so dear..

12 August 2012 at 18:48  
Blogger Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

He's absolutely bob on with that. It's been superb and the local churches must have had a whale of a time. The weather has been magnificent, the lack of security incident reassuring and the sport pheeeenomenal. As Mr OiIG observes, there has been a significant cost but after QE3 up to £350 billion it kinda makes £12 billion appear as if fluff down the back of the sofa.

I hope it has cheered up London a bit and has also permeated through the boroughs for the city seems a disparate patchwork of villages that an outsider, such as me, neither understands or particularly cares about but for them to come together to watch dancing horses is a daft occurence worth smiling for.

I praise and thank God that nothing's happened, I doubt the terrorists took the fortnight off. What we are left with is memories, a collective cry of celebration, a distant sense of trepidation replaced by glorious relief and a summer of remarkable sport.

And ofcourse the bill!

12 August 2012 at 19:49  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Indeed, that young Prick.

You will have to forgive the Inspector from time to time. He does worry about the cost, and yet, man does not live by bread alone...

12 August 2012 at 19:54  
Blogger Gerhard Swart said...

A Bisbop, no mention of Christ , no mention of the Gospel??

12 August 2012 at 20:07  
Blogger Gerhard Swart said...

A Bisbop, no mention of Christ , no mention of the Gospel??

12 August 2012 at 20:07  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

GS. Hardly a pastoral letter now, is it...

12 August 2012 at 20:10  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

For all the people who think the UK is pretty shit, and for all the economic issues we're experiencing, the Games have shown to everyone for a little while that this is a pretty great place to live. Of course, travelling around beyond the package holiday destinations also makes that abundantly clear too. We're blessed to live here in relative safety and relative stability and relative comfort. We should never forget that.

12 August 2012 at 20:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0, Sunday Half Hour is on now, BBC Radio 2, excellent fare !

12 August 2012 at 20:33  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace: Bishop Cottrell pays graceful tribute to unsung heroes of this extravaganza because, in its historic venue: ...Now it has been athletes and tourists, the world’s media and, with them, the eyes of millions of people around the globe who have come to Stratford Both Boyle and Cottrell are, nevertheless, guilty of a serious omission: It is a disservice to our culture that no one has seen fit to mention Stratford's connection to Chaucer.

Before dreaming of the "House of Fame," the "Father" of our poetry fell asleep: As he that wery was for-go/On pilgrimage myles two/To the corseynt Leonard, ("HOF" 115-117). My Riverside expands: "Smyser (MLN 56, 1941, 205-7) notes that Chaucer lived approximately two miles from St. Leonard's nunnery of Stratford-atte-Bowe" (979).**

The present lapse is possibly deliberate. Chaucer says of the Prioress: And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,/After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, ("General Prologue" 124/25). That is to say, those guilty of the omission may support some academics in the controversy about antisemitism in "The Prioress's Tale." marxist-feminist types impute that antisemitism to Chaucer; however, they ignore the Christian Paradox--and the omnipresence of Chaucer's irony.

Me, I say it's satire: Chaucer portrays for us a woman who takes meat and drink elegantly and who--oh, so sensitively--weeps over trapped/bleeding mice and feeds her pet dogs with titbits of meat (144-6): from, necessarily, other animals that people sacrifice. The poet then demonstrates hypocrisy/illogic in her tale, which condemns Jews who sacrifice a little boy... Jews having similarly sacrificed Christ, who like his mother, was a Jew. Even once dead, the boy in the story constantly sings to BVM, because Me thoughte she leyde a greyn upon my tonge --until an abbot removes the host-like grain ("PrT: 1852 ff). At the end, the Prioress, who might not be as hypocritical as the tale, adds a prayer for mercy on "us, we synful folk unstable" ("PrT" 1887-9).***


13 August 2012 at 00:17  
Blogger non mouse said...


Chaucer's audience included Lollards. Presumably they and others were all accustomed to the conventions of oral rhetoric and Christian narrative; they could discern the significance of echoed references to Holy Communion... and an implied criticism of antisemitism. However, anti-Christian post-modernists use the Prioress against our poet, even though he told us that he was repeating the tales as his characters did --in keeping with his aim of describing those on his pilgrimage (GP 725-44; 36-42).

Indeed, Chaucer's unsurpassed insight into human character might make some writers uneasy: time and again, one recognises shysters in his work; many modern ones are like the Pardoner, for example. I wonder, too, what Chaucer would say about this lust for gold (cupiditas), on his doorstep ... And I really hope they didn't raze his area in order to build some monstrosity upon it.

So I suggest that this example of Olympic exclusion insults us all ... except those who profit by the destruction of Britain and its culture.
** [Here and throughout] Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd. ed. Ed. Larry D. Benson. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1987.

***The Prioress also refers to "yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also with cursed Jewes" (684-5), who = Little St. Hugh of Lincoln, a child martyr (d. 1255) whose murderer was probably not Jewish despite the legend; in sublime contrast, another St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln (d.1200) had worked to help Jews and was buried at Lincoln Cathedral. I note that the Prioress may not mean all Jews, and that, in 1386 Chaucer's wife "was admitted to the fraternity of Lincoln Cathedral,"(qtd. in Riverside 916 from Ch Life Records 91-2).****

****Crow, Martin M. and Clair C. Olson, eds. Chaucer Life-Records Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966.

13 August 2012 at 00:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


A Bisbop indeed? Sounds like a wonderful idea. A sort of hybrid of hip-hop and orthodox belief I presume?


Since leaving England for stranger shores, I have come to realise that hatred of the country is something largely reserved to the middle classes for whom loathing of one's homeland has become a virtue. Partly, I suspect, because they associate it with baser political drives, and partly because it absolves them of responsibility of its "shitness". The country's gone to the dogs - but not of course, as a result of anything they have done.

The UK is a generally good country to live in. England can be delightful in its own quite distinctive way. There are indeed worse places to live if one values one's bodily integrity. On the other hand, there are some places where, increasingly, though materially poorer and repressive, are more profoundly rich in other blessings. Though I doubt you'll consider that much loss.

non mouse:

I'd love to know how you manage to always see Chaucer as being relevant. I often struggle myself. Have you just finished an "Impact" form for REF or something? ;)

13 August 2012 at 01:10  
Blogger Manfarang said...

There are probably many young working class people today who feel they have no future in the UK as was the case in the 1970s punk era.
It is difficult to emigrate, no more ten pound tickets to Australia.If it were easy then millions would leave.

13 August 2012 at 02:35  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Celebration in the local communoty
The bloody thing is OVER!
No-one, in public, seem to admito, or even realise how much the XXXth olympiad was hated, feared & loathed in much of London.

In your face,
On your lap,
AT our expense

And we were never asked .....

Yup, I'm with the OIG on this fascist, corporate corrupt con.

13 August 2012 at 07:12  
Blogger non mouse said...

AiB @ 01:10: Have you just finished an "Impact" form for REF or something? ;) I have no idea what you're talking about!!! (Which might tell you something...)

But you're right that I find Chaucer always relevant: my questions ever return me to his answers. As I suggested above, that's partly because of his insight into human character: it's deadly accurate, and so it's timeless. "Gentle irony" my foot!

The other thing is that I agree with those who view "House of Fame" as a prelude--it opened a gateway not only to CT, but also to whatever literary development might follow the Ricardian era.

So not for nothing is Chaucer dubbed "Father." Much Tudor lit. echoes him; cf even Beware the Cat" ... it's not all because he married Gaunt's sister-in-law (the Lancastrian connection). Indeed, the continuity works for me through to Paradise Lost, and even down to Hemingway's Snows of Kilimanjaro!

One other principle unites these readings: some of us identify "HOF" as an exposition of Neo-Platonic/Augustinian Christianity--it presents that view of The Fall. Geffrey's universal pilgrimage sets the scene for the Tales. They then go on to explore the philosophy through specific cases: demonstrating the earthly pilgrimage from Cupiditas to Caritas--or not. Of course, HOF's transitions between Hell and Heaven reflect back to Dante's Divine Comedy, as well as to general medieval re-visions of the Aeneid. But I love the way Chaucer describes the indescribable by not describing it.

As to the present case, he did live near London's Stratford. I argue further that Chaucer was inclusively Judeao-Christian, rather than exclusive or ignorant--as the marxist-pagan Olympians are towards him, on his home ground to boot.

He was greater than they can dream of being, for all their deus ex machina transmission of torches :))

13 August 2012 at 07:48  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Tingey, whilst I agree that the Olympics are/were not popular in London (I live in Newham and I have been negative about them) I wouldn't say they were hated. They have been called annoying and frustrating, but this has been because those of us that live here have had our daily lives inconvenienced in the run up and then during the games. The games themselves have been seen generally as a good thing, just annoying that we are all put out for them to happen.

The parking situation in Newham, for example, was thought to be a potential disaster for locals but I haven't heard of a single problem during the games.
The fact that the Westfield Centre was only accessible for people with tickets for the Olympic Park was bloody stupid and there were some people who run businesses who were clearly annoyed because their custom was affected negatively by the games.
But the key, at least for me, as a local, is what will the lasting impact on Newham be? If it leads to unused stadia and wasteland then it will be loathed. If the increased infrastructure and redevelopment of the area brings jobs and housing and a general benefit to the local community then they will be seen as a worthwhile inconvenience.

13 August 2012 at 08:27  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

non mouse: It's academic bollocks. If you have been spared knowledge of it, count yourself blessed.

I'm more of a Langland man myself. Or perhaps even Lydgate on an off day.

Though it must be said I have enjoyed Troilus and Criseyde on many occasions. To my mind a far superior work to the unfinished CT (reserving the possibility that a finished CT would have topped it).

13 August 2012 at 19:39  
Blogger Gary said...

The closing ceremony - held on the Lord's Day - was crammed full of half naked women, sodomites, anti-Christian songs, and foul language. What kind of legacy do we want to leave exactly?

15 August 2012 at 13:25  
Blogger Gary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 August 2012 at 13:25  

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