Saturday, 31 July 2021

Taekwondo commentary and St Ignatius Loyola

I have not been following the Tokyo Olympics closely, and so have only come across Lutalo Muhammad in the Times newspaper today. According to the Times, Lutalo "has won the admiration of fellow broadcasters and athletes for his eloquent commentary" in presenting Tokyo's taekwondo events this last week.

Along with his mellifluous delivery, his commentary has been noted for its poeticism and use of analogy, among them the phrase: "Fear can either fuel you or be the fire that burns you up".

Lutalo attributes his lyrical bent to a life-long love of reading, which was initiated by trips to the local library with his mother when he was a child.

"As a little boy, fun for us was a trip to the library, which all sounds a bit geeky now. But I really do enjoy reading and I love books that chronicle people developing themselves. I'm fascinated by improvement and performance". 

Apparently, Lutalo's mother still reads a book a day, as well as running a taekwondo club in east London, along with Lutalo's father. 

The second reading in the Office of Readings for today, the feast day of St Ignatius Loyola, describes the effect on the saint of the reading that he undertook when recovering from illness.

Ignatius was very addicted to reading aimless and exaggerated books about the illustrious deeds of the famous and when he felt well again he asked for some to pass the time. But there were no books of that type in the house and he was given a book called The Life of Christ and another The Flower of the Saints, both in his native language.

The passage from the Office goes on to describe how St Ignatius reflected on this reading, but at the same time was also distracted back to thoughts of his more worldly reading.

But there was a difference in his two types of subject for thought. When he was intent on his worldly interests he got great pleasure at the time, but whenever he wearied of them and gave them up, he felt dejected and empty. On the other hand, when he thought about the austerities which he found that holy men practised, not only did he find joy in the account of them, but when he stopped thinking of them his joy remained unabated. However, he never noticed the difference or thought about it, until one day it dawned on him, and he began to wonder at it....Afterwards, however, when he had undertaken spiritual exercises, this experience was the starting point for teaching his followers the discernment of spirits.

In these times of on-line reading, of Kindle, and of the smart phone ......there is still something special about holding a real book in your hands ..... and using a real bookmark! 

And St Ignatius gives us a good example of how serious reading is of more value than the celebration of celebrity that is often to be found in television or online sources.

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