Enduring the Endearment

9 08 2008

As China continues to ignore the Darfur atrocities, (even going so far as to revoke Joey Cheek’s visa) it’s hard to get excited about the Olympiad this year.

Every moment of the opening ceremonies was hard to swallow to some degree — isn’t this all celebrating the country that continues to oppress and silence those who dissent? More people than ever before watched thousands of Chinese citizens put on the most extravagant opening fanfare ever conceived, but the only thing that sticks in my mind is a short clip of Bush and Putin leaning over and talking animatedly. I wonder what about.

As my nationalism continues its battle with my conscience, I struggle to perceive China in a better light. Every image on Friday night seemed to speak, often literally, about replacing the old image of China with a new one; I heard the new message, but I don’t know if I will ever stop seeing the old messenger.

One of my friends was in China last year for some very low-key missions work. In every email he sent me, words and phrases that even hinted at Christianity had to be filtered and couched in such terms so as to make them innocuous. God was “father” and evangelizing was “sharing.” To the average Chinese citizen, Tiananmen Square was a place where “some bad people did some bad things.” Of course, these beliefs are due in large part to the fact that they are unable to even look up the protests on the web at all. Many reporters at the Games this year who have encountered the same preventative measures have received little response from a government that had formerly promised to drop all of its restrictions for the Games.

Of course, as Joey Cheek well knows, promises are easy to make when you don’t have the whole world watching to make sure you go through with them.

If you need me, I’ll be cheering for Lopez Lomong. (Thanks to Jesse over at Magnolia Mountain for this one.)

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