In 1908 the Olympics were held in England for the first time. The norms for what we like to regard as the “Olympic spirit” had not yet been established in the renewal of the ancient games. As it turned out, nationalist pride took over in those games and they were tainted by several controversial actions.

We will never know why, but the English did not display the United States or Swedish flags at the stadium prior to the games. The Swedes packed up to go home, but did finally compete. The U.S. team stayed, but in the opening ceremony ignored the custom of dipping the national flag to the head of state of the host country. The American carrying Old Glory made it clear that this was not an oversight.

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The following is an introduction to Kairos Prison Ministry by The Rev. Canon William Barnwell. We will publish a series of interviews Barnwell conducted with prisoners about Kairos as part of our Christianity at Work project.


One out of every one hundred American adults is living in a prison—2.2 million altogether—the most per capita of any country in the world. The national average is 502 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.” Many of these men and women will spend much or all of their lives in prison. Stories abound—especially on television—of their violent lives inside as well as outside of prison.

The primary purpose of this series is to let some prisoners who are sentenced to be incarcerated for life tell their stories and, at the same time, let some of the determined volunteers who work with Kairos, an amazing national prison ministry, tell their stories. I begin with explaining something about Karios.

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