Two Boys Play Chess: Madness Follows

 

Matan Poleg (above left) and Omar Eltigani (right) were paired at the World Youth Chess Championships in South Africa last week. They played a game. Poleg won on the 45th move.

Outrage ensued. Denunciations were issued. The Sudanese media couldn’t even bring themselves to mention Matan Poleg’s name. The head of the Sudanese Chess Association resigned, offering grovelling apologies.

You already know the punchline to this, of course.

Poleg is an Israeli Jew. Eltigani is Sudanese. In the Muslim world, this is an unbearable outrage.

[a] top Sudanese religious official issued a scathing rebuke of the Sudanese government for not stopping Eltigani from playing, asserting that Sudan is in a state of war with the Jews and has a policy of not recognizing “the Zionist entity.” He said that competing against an Israeli player is tantamount to recognizing Israel and gives it legitimacy, according to Sudanese news site Al Nilin.

Two girls under age 10–one Israeli, one Algerian–were also matched, and were also forbidden to play:

An Israeli Arab girl was paired against an Algerian girl and the Algerian girl was not allowed to play the match, he said. The girls, who conversed in Arabic, were each awarded a point even though the match wasn’t played, he said.

Good ole fashioned Jew-hate: it’s never out of season, even in the world of chess. As a writer and magazine editor, I’ve covered chess before, and this is not unusual. WYCC doesn’t have the guts to do what they should do: ban any team that refuses to play against Israelis. Cowards.

 

Benedict: The Liturgy as a Game

Reading Ratzinger’s Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy, this passage from Spirit of the Liturgy struck me again as a fascinating analogy (re-paragraphed for ease of reading):

download (2)What is the liturgy? What happens during the liturgy? What kind of reality do we encounter here? In the 1920s the suggestion was made that we should understand the liturgy in terms of “play”. The point of the analogy was that a game has its own rules, sets up its own world, which is in force from the start of play but then, of course, is suspended at the close of play.

A further point of similarity was that play, though it has a meaning, does not have a purpose and that for this very reason there is something healing, even liberating, about it. Play takes us out of the world of daily goals and their pressures and into a sphere free of purpose and achievement, releasing us for a time from all the burdens of our daily world of work. Play is a kind of other world, an oasis of freedom, where for a moment we can let life flow freely.

We need such moments of retreat from the pressure of daily life if its burden is to be bearable. Now there is some truth in this way of thinking, but it is insufficient. It all depends on what we are playing. Everything we have said can be applied to any game, and the trouble is that serious commitment to the rules needed for playing the game soon develops its own burdens and leads to new kinds of purposefulness. Whether we look at modern sport or at chess championships or, indeed, at any game, we find that play, when it does not degenerate into mere fooling about, quickly turns from being another world, a counter-world or non-world, to being a bit of the normal world with its own laws.

We should mention another aspect of this theory of play, something that brings us closer to the essence of the liturgy. Children’s play seems in many ways a kind of anticipation of life, a rehearsal for later life, without its burdens and gravity. On this analogy, the liturgy would be a reminder that we are all children, or should be children, in relation to that true life toward which we yearn to go. Liturgy would be a kind of anticipation, a rehearsal, a prelude for the life to come, for eternal life, which St. Augustine describes, by contrast with life in this world, as a fabric woven, no longer of exigency and need, but of the freedom of generosity and gift.

Seen thus, liturgy would be the rediscovery within us of true childhood, of openness to a greatness still to come, which is still unfulfilled in adult life. Here, then, would be the concrete form of hope, which lives in advance the life to come, the only true life, which initiates us into authentic life—the life of freedom, of intimate union with God, of pure openness to our fellowman. Thus it would imprint on the seemingly real life of daily existence the mark of future freedom, break open the walls that confine us, and let the light of heaven shine down upon earth.

The “Coexist” Bishop

The Most Reverend Julian Leow will be installed as the 4th archbishop of Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.

Here is his coat of arms:

squishop2

Let’s take a closer look at the bottom right symbol:

squishopcu

The symbol is called the “Tree of All Religions,” and here’s how they explain it:

squishop

Well that’s just bullshit. Indifferentism is a heresy, and syncretism is an error. Why would he slap symbols suggesting both on his official episcopal coat of arms? To show that we’re open to “dialog”? Fine, we’re open to dialog. Do we have to put the symbols of heresies and lies on an official coat of arms, as though the Truth is just one option among multiple valid choices? (And, yes, I know that Pope Benedict’s coat of arms included a Moor’s head, which was a historical symbol of the diocese of Freising. Not at all the same thing.)

Symbols matter. We either believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and the only path to the Father, or we’re not Christians. Someone chosen to be Archbishop should know that. It’s another troubling Epic Fail from the list of Pope Francis appointments.

NOTE: I clarified the line about Indifferentism. I’m making no “charges” against the bishop, which would be absurd and grossly inappropriate. I’m saying that the coat of arms suggest a particular heresy (indifferentism), and that at least one of the symbols represents a heresy.