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‘Chariots of Fire’ Makes a Comeback – On Stage and in Real Life

The glorious story of Eric Liddell will soon grace a London stage just as issues of conscience make headlines with Christians defending religious freedom from coercion.

Chariots of Fire, the Oscar-winning film of Olympic runner Eric Liddell’s refusal to race on the Sabbath, is being adapted into a play to usher in the 2010 Olympics this summer in London.

It’s a marvelous opportunity to revive a beloved British story of an Olympian’s faithfulness. Hugh Hudson, director of Chariots of Fire and who came up with the idea of a stage adaptation, gave a deeper reason for the timing in addition to London hosting the Olympics.

“Issues of faith, of refusal to compromise, standing up for one’s beliefs, achieving something for the sake of it, with passion, and not just for fame or financial gain, are even more vital today,” Hudson told the London Evening Standard.

Chariots of Fire was the brainchild of producer David Puttnam who was looking for a story about someone who follows their conscience along the lines of A Man for All Seasons about Sir Thomas More.

Liddell’s and More’s unflinching obedience to God inspires Christians and non-Christians alike. Yet, like so often in history, their lessons are lost on today’s villains who consider conscience and faith trivial obstacles for Christians to easily set aside to assist others’ demands for abortion and acceptance of homosexuality.

Both men’s courage illustrates why the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Yet this is not a settled issue for governments and activists who insist on “reproductive and sexual rights.” For them, license to engage in any sexual conduct and the right to force others to accommodate illicit activity takes precedence over the freedom of conscience.

Hopefully, Chariots of Fire will spark discussions over courage and faithfulness to follow God despite the cost. It’s a timely reminder that humble obedience to faith carries its own rewards.


Wendy Wright is the Interim Executive Director at C-FAM.


  • Aanel

    You do realize that Ian Charleson (pictured), who portrayed Eric Liddell whom you laud so highly, was a homosexual?

  • First of all, Wright is lauding the life and story of Eric Liddell – who was not a homosexual and, in fact, was a devout Christian – not Ian Charleson. Secondly, even if she was admiring Mr. Charleson’s portrayal of this historical figure – which she also did not do; his name isn’t even mentioned in the article – I personally do not think that his sexual identity should disqualify him from receiving such appreciation, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

  • Aanel

    You and Wright are both making an absurd assumption that one cannot be both a homosexual and a devout Christian. Wright calls homosexuals and anyone who accepts them “villains”. Evidently everyone does not have the right to human rights after all.

    Perhaps Wright should take a cue from Ian Charleson, who himself actually wrote the glorious speech he gave in Chariots of Fire. Ian Charleson had a much better grasp of the principals of Christianity than Wright does:

    “You came to see a race today, to see someone win — happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It’s hard; requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation, when the winner breaks the tape; ‘specially if you’ve got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home, maybe your dinner’s burnt; maybe you haven’t got a job. So who am I to say, believe, have faith, in the face of life’s realities?

    “I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. Then where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, ‘Behold, the kingdom of God is within you. If, with all your hearts ye truly seek me, ye shall ever surely find me.’ If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.”

  • Mary Kochan

    Wow, Aanel, way to go in making an argument from silence! Please try going back and reading and dealing with what was actually said. For the record, she did not say that “homosexuals and anyone who accepts them” are villains. You just made that up.

    And neither in what Wendy Wright wrote, nor in what Chelsea said, is there a denial that a homosexual can be a devout Christian. Eric Liddell was in fact one and not the other. If Ian Charlson was both, fine. For your information, the analogy of the Christian life to a race originates in the writings of St. Paul. Though he may have eloquently puts the thoughts into the mouth of the character he was playing, without clarifying a great deal more about him and his life your assertion that he has a “better grasp of the principles of Christianity than Wright does” is vacuous, as it is both without evidence, unless you think an actor’s lines are always an expression of his deepets beliefs and without basis of comparison. And being familiar with the work of Wendy Wright spanning a number of years, I would say it is also unlikely.

    • Aanel

      I think you are the one that needs to re-read what Wright wrote: “villains who consider conscience and faith trivial obstacles for Christians to easily set aside to assist others’ demands for abortion and acceptance of homosexuality.” Which by the way she charaterizes as “license to engage in any sexual conduct and the right to force others to accommodate illicit activity”.

      And I think you need to learn a lot more about Ian Charleson and his grasp of Christianity, true compassion, and spirituality, before calling me vacuous for exposing hypocrisy and homophobia and self-righteous double standards.

      Or perhaps you and she should discuss the matter with Hugh Hudson (whom she quotes) and David Puttnam, the producer she lauds.

      • Mary Kochan

        So it’s not villainy to consider conscience and faith trivial? So it’s not villainy to demand that other set aside their conscience and faith in order for you to have sex anyway you want, with any person you want, any time you want, without any consequences — including the consequence of baby? Surely you do not mean to suggest that.

        Also regardless of what I know or do not know about Ian Charleson, and regardless of what you think you know, that is quite irrelevant. I did not attack Ian Charleson (and neither did anyone else in this article or in the comboxes), I did not impugn his spirituality or his compassion, and I did not in any way judge him. It is you rather, who made an adverse assertion about Wendy Wright, based upon (at first) misquoting her.

        Then again you may just be a person who thinks conscience and religious faith are trivial and that there is no villainy in trivializing them. But if that is so, you certainly must be suffering from a major case of cognitive dissonance when you claim to admire the Christianity compassion and spirituality of Ian Charleson.

        You are all confused and tangled up. Instead of suggesting this or that person for other people to talk to, let’s see your own opinion expressed with some kind of clarity and coherence.