Tag Archives: video

What does pi sound like?

Happy Pi Day! (3/14)

Happy Pi Day! (3/14)

What does pi sound like? I had never thought of that before seeing this video.  The musician in the video makes each digit correspond to a note on a scale.  He then “plays” pi for 100 digits.  The result is both random and beautiful – which is a perfect description of the number pi.

Pi is an irrational number.  It cannot be expressed by a ratio of two integers.  Instead, it describes the ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle.  It goes on forever in randomness.  According to wikipedia, pi has been extrapolated to 10 trillion digits (that would make for a very long song).

Pi is one of those pursuits that has endless applications.  The more I learn about pi, the more I realize I know very little about it.  I find that there is an incredible beauty in mathematics and things like pi and the lesser-known, but equally impressive phi (1.618).

What is less often discussed when it comes to things like Pi and Phi are the theological implications. Theology and science and mathematics are too often seen as competing interests, but to me these fields are about the search for meaning and truth.  There are certainly distinctions that need to be made between these fields, but treating them as mutually exclusive is a a mistake as well.  They use different tools and methods, but the search for truth is part of what makes us human.

Many see phenomena like pi and think, “there is no need for God.”  I see pi and see a remarkable tool that God created.  I cannot prove that I am correct.  This is a faith statement, and faith is irrational.  That does not make faith un-real.

For me, pi itself is a metaphor for faith.  Pi is a reasonable construct of irrationality.  Its very irrationality is a part of this universe that is full of randomness and chaos.  It is out of chaos that God called things into order.

OK, so now I’m starting to get deeper than I originally intended, but I think this is an interesting conversation.  I am fascinated by math, science, evolutionary biology, anthropology, astronomy, and theology.  They are distinct, but cannot be separated.  I believe that the pursuit of knowledge is a God-inspired pursuit.  Happy Pi Day!

For more about how Religion and Science coexist, I highly recommend this book, What About Religion and Science, by Paul Stroble.  You can follow @PaulStroble on Twitter, and read his blog called Journeys Home.

Another post about the wonder of science.

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The Star Wars that I used to know

I love Star Wars.  I’ve seen the original trilogy countless times – but not the original original in many years.  I bought the re-releases immediately and loved them, at first.  I loved the added details, and even some of the deleted scenes.  I thought the Jabba scene in A New Hope was weird, but I let it slide.  I missed the old celebration music at the end of Return of the Jedi, but seeing the Palpatine statue get toppled was kind of cool.  Then the more I watched, the more I felt uneasy.  Of course, the most egregious change was that Han shot first.

If you don’t know what “Han shot first” means, then you don’t truly love Star Wars.  Find someone that does and ask them, then sit back and wait for a good 15 minute rant to ensue.  I won’t go into the details, but when Lucas changed the original movie, he changed the development of one of the greatest characters in movie history.  He sterilized Han and ripped out part of the heart of the movie.

It was as if Martin Scorcese decided to remake The Godfather trilogy, and decided that Michael should have Fredo beaten up and shipped to Mexico instead of having him go fishing.

Then the next trilogy came out.  I remember leaving Phantom Menace a little perplexed.  I felt like I liked it, but again I felt uneasy.  I enjoyed the light saber battles.  I enjoyed seeing a younger Yoda, but I missed him as a puppet.  I couldn’t put my finger on just what was the problem, partly because there were so many of them.  Yes, Jar Jar was annoying.  Yes, the kid was whiny.  Yes, Darth Maul was underdeveloped and dispatched much too quickly.  Yes, the strange opening story that included trade embargoes and legal negotiations seemed disjointed.

Then I realized, it was the metachlorian.  In the original, the Force was a mysterious, spiritual experience.  “May the Force be with you,” was a spiritual salutation on par with, “Peace be with you.” If one of the characters had ever said, “And also with you,” it would have felt right. The Force was clouded in mystery, but it was attainable.  “The force is strong with this one,” referred to Luke’s eagerness, inner courage, and desire for justice.  The force was something that we could all tap into.  It was something within reach, even if it was from a galaxy far, far away.  The force was a reminder that there is something mysterious, a power that we can never truly understand.

There were theological ramifications for this.  You could put away the targeting computer, and trust in something more powerful. Even in the midst of amazing technological advances, there was something more.  The power to destroy planets was insignificant next to the power of the force.  Isn’t this the good news of the Bible, after all?

The greatest powers on earth was Egypt, but God saved the band of rebel slaves.  Then it was the Babylonians, but God was able to gather the remnant of Israel and save them.  Then it was Rome.  Rome had the power to destroy entire cities, but it was insignificant next to the power of grace. The Methodist in me screamed: “The Force is Prevenient Grace.” It is the power that flows through us all before we even realize it. The Force precedes even our undersanding. Stars Wars taught us that there was something beyond death that can be a source of hope, but it is the power of love that is truly the ultimate power of the universe.

Then in Phantom Menace, they pull out a syringe and count metachlorians?  What the hell?  Now it’s just a chemical and genetic accident?  It is something that be counted, measured, and predicted?  That’s just wrong.  It’s wrong on so many levels in so many ways.  I don’t care if it George Lucas’s movie, and he can do whatever he wants with it.  If DaVinci decided he wanted to put a big cheesy grin on Mona Lisa, he would be wrong.

So here’s a parody video.  It is really well done, and it sums up very well how I feel about Star Wars and George Lucas.

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Advent in Two Minutes

This is a great two-minute video that was produced by a Catholic group called Busted Halo.  They have a lot of short educational videos.  The one below is very good.  It explains the relationship between Advent and Christmas pretty well.  I found it by f0llowing @rethinkingyouth on twitter.  The Rethinking Youth Ministry website is a great resource.

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Worst video ever: What’s up with you?

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
― Albert Einstein

I don’t think Albert Einstein knew Eddie Murphy, but when I see this quote, I think of the video below:

Eddie Murphy is one of the all-time kings of comedy.  He was at times profane and vulgar, but he was (as his second video claimed) raw.  He was a little bit angry.  He was a little bit dangerous because he had something to say about American culture.  He was young and brash and black and brilliant.  He was Chris Rock before Chris Rock. I remember watching his first, far superior, video “Delirious” in my friend’s basement.  We knew we were doing something very wrong, and I didn’t get a lot of the jokes, but I knew it was funny.

Most young people now only know Eddie Murphy as Donkey or Dr. Doolittle.  There is very little dangerous about him.  But I remember Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood, Gumby, Buckwheat, and his duet with Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra doing “Ebony and Ivory.”  I am black and you are white.  You are blind as a bat and I have sight.  Yet it seemed like Eddie Murphy always wished he was a singer.  And when he sang as a part of his comedy routines, he was funny, and a pretty good singer.

The problem arose when he tried to sing as a singer.  Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy could easily be described as geniuses, but if they were judged solely on “What’s Up With You,” I don’t think the word genius would appear.  The song, I think, is supposed to be about the environment and how we are supposed to treat the earth.  Beyond repeating “Whazzup wit you” about 45 times, he doesn’t really say much.  Although I’m pretty sure he says something like “Let’s Jackie Chan each other.”

The vocals are “good for a comedian” but not food for a singer.  This video is just weird.  I’d love to describe it for you, but let’s just say it includes Murphy in an undershirt, Jackson in his pretend-army uniform, a bunch of kids that went to school with Carlton and Will skipping and dancing around, some animated hearts, birds and musical notes, some shifts from black and white to color, and some half-hearted dancing which includes Murphy doing some of Jackson’s moves and a lot of exaggerated head nodding.

Like I said, worst video ever.  And further proof that Einstein knew what he was talking about.  Do what you’re good at, or you might just look stupid.

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Keep a song in your heart

The video below is priceless.  It is an impromptu performance at the Mayo Clinic of Marlow and Fran Cowan.  The husband is in his early 90s, and Fran is in her mid-80s.  According to the title of the video, they had been married 62 years when this video was recorded.  This isn’t a new video.  It was posted in April 2009, and it has had over 7 million hits. But its new to me, and it made me smile.  I thought I’d share:

There are a couple of more links you can follow for more of the Cowans.

A blog from the person that recorded the performance.

A repeat performance in front of hospital staff.

There is so much to learn from this 2 minute song. It speaks so much about faith, healing, music, longevity, love, marriage, and joy.  I can only imagine how many times these two people have played that song together over 62 years.

I think my favorite part of the video is when they start switching places.  She stumbles once and has to sit on the bench, and he stops playing to make sure she is okay.  Then they get right back into the song, barely missing a beat.  Then they switch again, and he sneaks a pat on her bottom while she feigns surprise and indignation.

I could go on and on about this video, but this is one perfect case when the music tells more than my words could.  Plus, if you follow the link to their encore performance, you will see Mr. Cowan address the audience.  He sums it all up perfectly, “Keep a song in your heart.  Keep singing. And God bless you all.”


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Miss Representation

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. (Alice Walker)

The trailer below begins with this quote.  It reminds me of an anecdote I heard in seminary.  I don’t remember the exact details, so I cannot properly attribute the story.  My professor said (something like), “C.S. Lewis once said that, ‘Man’s greatest sin is pride.’ In other words, it is believing that being ‘made in the image of God’ is equal to that of being God.  This might be true, but another theologian said, ‘The greatest sin of man might be pride.  But the greatest sin of woman is lack of pride.'”

The video is about eight and a half minutes long.  It is worth watching.  Make no mistake, this is not a girls issue.  It is not a liberal issue. It is a human issue.  The objectification of women is damaging to both boys and girls.  Treating anyone as less than a precious child of God does harm.  It is the act of ignoring what is fundamentally true of all people: That we are ALL created in God’s image.

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NRSV)

This is an issue that I’ve written about before in my blog Princess Paradox.  As a father of two daughters, I obviously have a lot of interest in how the media will affect their lives as they grow up.  As power as the media is, it is not more powerful than a loving relationship.  The movie is a warning.  It can help provide  a sense of urgency, and a better understanding of what we’re up against. It cannot be an excuse.  It is my duty as a father to make sure that my daughters know that they are smart, strong, courageous people that were created in the image of God.

I hope you take the time to watch this and go to the Miss Representation website to learn more.

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Derek Redmond’s Dad

You probably don’t recognize the name Derek Redmond.  You might recognize his story though.  He was a sprinter in 1992 Barcolona Olympics.  He was the British record holder and a contender to do well in the 400m.  He had an injury-plagued career, but as he prepared for the most important 45 seconds of his life, the announcer claimed that he was in the “best form he’d shown.”   About 15 seconds into the race, he tore his hamstring.  He crumpled to the ground in pain.  If that was the end of his race, no one would remember Derek Redmond, but as a trainer started to attend to him, Redmond got up and started limping around the track.  He was determined to finish what he had begun.  He was determined to finish the lap.

As he limped around the track, fans started to cheer.  Several attendants approached him, but he waved them off.  He was alone on the track.  A wide shot of him in the video below reveals a strange scene – one man hobbling and barely able to stand, not the usual group of amazing athletes speeding along the curve.  As he comes around the turn, the crowd is cheering him on.  They understand what he is trying to do.  They admire him for it.  But then something else happens.  Something extraordinary.  Something that until recently, I don’ t think I really understood.  Watch below.

A man comes out on the track.  We don’t see what he had to do to get on the track.  We do see him push past one person that tries to stop him.  He puts his arm around the wounded athlete, and the recognition on Derek Redmond’s face helps us understand.  This is his father.

This is his father who he drapes his arm around.  Suddenly, the emotions of the moment catch up to the pain and Derek Redmond buries his face in his father’s chest.  His father is now literally holding him up as another attendant comes.  This time the guy is more adamant, but there is nothing that is going to take the boy from his father.  You can almost read his lips, as he waves the man away, “Get the hell out of here!”  is what I think he says.

The two finish the race together while the stadium rose to its feet in appreciation for what they had witnessed.  Afterward, the father says, “Whatever happened, he had to finish.  And I was there to help him finish.  I intended to go over the line with him. We started his career together.  I think we should finish it together.”

Derek Redmond is now a motivational speaker.  On his website, he gives an interview where he describes his father as “My motivator, my hero, my pal, my bodyguard, my physio and my masseur some days.”  I have seen this video of him and his Dad before, but the other day I watched again – perhaps for the first time as a father myself.  I started thinking about Derek Redmond’s Dad.

My girls are too young to participate in competitive sports, but I’ve already began to dream about what their future holds.  I think about their lives as dancers, athletes, students, friends.  I think about the relationships they’ll make, the people they’ll know, the places they’ll go, and the accomplishments that await them.  Is the Olympics in their future?  Who knows?

As a father I can dream with them.  I can dream for them.  I can imagine myself watching my daughter in the biggest moment of her life.  I can already be nervous, waiting for her chance to shine.  I do not know what her dreams will be, but I can imagine being at the cusp of them, ready to emerge victorious.

What would it be like to be watching your son or your daughter run in the most important 45 seconds of their life, and then come up injured.  How much would it hurt to see her body lying on the ground, broken; her race over; her career over; her dream over?  How much would it hurt to think of the hours of practice, the trips to the gym, the diets, the training, the injuries, the coaching, the sacrifices that had all come to this point, and end with her crumpled on the ground waiting for the stretcher to carry her off the track so they could keep the schedule of the rest of the event?

Then, what would it feel like to see her get up?  I remember the first time she fell off of her bike, and I remember with pride the moment she got back on her bike and kept going.

As I watch this video of Derek Redmond hobbling around the track I can see my daughters, struggling to finish something that they set out to achieve.  When I dream their future, I don’t dream of them victorious.  I dream of them courageous.  I don’t dream of them with accolades and fame and money.  I dream of them with conviction and perseverance and strength.

And when I see Derek Redmond collapse into the loving arms of his father, I dream that someday I will be able to be there for my daughters.  I hope beyond hope that when they face a obstacle in their life that feels bigger than they can handle, that I will be able to be there for them.  I hope this in part because I know what it feels like to collapse into the loving arms of my Dad.

The fact remains, I might not always be there for them.  So I live every day teaching, praying, reading, dancing, laughing, and crying with them so that they know, and that they will always know that their Daddy loves them.  More importantly, I do these things so that they know, and that they will ALWAYS know that our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loves them. Amen.

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Partners in Hope

This is a video I put together with pictures I found on the internet plus my pictures and videos from my recent trip to Liberia.


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More response to Jill and Kevin

I want to cut and paste the responses I got to this post on facebook. Some very thoughtful pastors had very interesting things to say.

I want to be clear that my previous post was not intended to be directed at Jill and Kevin. I don’t know Jill and Kevin. I did not see the rest of the service. Perhaps the pastor preached about the joyful dance that was meant to honor God. Perhaps they are devoted Christians, who instead of going on a honeymoon, went to Liberia to build a school. Perhaps they are egotistical jerks that are lapping up their new-found fame.  Perhaps they are somewhere in between.  I have no idea. Is this ceremony in any way indicative of the long-term success of their marriage? Not any more than any service is.

Every wedding is nearly meaningless to the marriage. A marriage is about deciding everyday to love, honor, care for and respect your spouse. There is no way to tell from any wedding ceremony if those two people will honor their vows in their heart. What I can say is this – the divorce rate for marriages that are lived in God, that are drenched in sincere prayer and heart-felt worship, with self-sacrifice, respect, love, honor, and faithfulness (and faithfulness is about a lot more than who one has sex with), is zero percent.

My post was about me thinking about what I would do if someone approached me with this idea. My response would depend on the couple and the situation.
My post was about the “look-at-me” attitude that pervades our culture – where fame is valued over humility and material gain is valued over sacrifice. Is this an example of it? Not in and of itself, but the response by the media, the recreations of it on morning shows, and the imitations of it that are sure to come, give me pause.

There is so much that I love about this video – I wish there was more of this kind of thing in church. Part of why it is so shocking is that people are dancing and having a good time in a sanctuary – which is sad. I can imagine how cool it would be if every Sunday morning the elements for Communion, the Bible, the liturgist, pastor, ushers, and other participants came into the sanctuary like this?

I could imagine how cool it would be if the offering were more like this? What if people came to bring their offering in song and dance instead of sitting like they were at a funeral – Or what about a funeral for that matter? I hope that when I die people can dance like this, not cause they’re happy I’m gone, but to celebrate a life well lived. I’m actually getting tears as I type this because I pray with all of my heart that more people could experience worship with this kind of joy.

So Kelly, please don’t think that I am judging anyone in this video. You think that God was smiling on them – I think you’re right. I think God celebrates with us during good times, and weeps with us during hard times, especially if we invite God to do so.

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Jill and Kevin’s Wedding Entrance

This is the lastest viral video to hit it big on the internet, and it is the first which to me has some theological implications.

I have been thinking a lot about this clip. As a pastor, I find myself wondering what I would do if a couple approached me with this idea. As of right now, I have two weddings on my calendar. It’s unlikely that either of these weddings will feature a dance-line processional, but given the popularity of this video, I can’t help but feel that in the course of my career, it’s going to come up.

Let me begin by saying that my reaction has absolutely nothing to do with this couple in particular. I have to admit I was moved by this video. The spirit of joy and celebration was evident – and not just in the dance moves. It was clear that this wedding was a celebration. Surely weddings are celebrations. The problem I consider is this: what are we celebrating?

It is not difficult to convince most couples that a wedding is about celebrating. The problem is that the celebration usually focuses on the bride and groom and the love they share. Yes, a wedding is about celebrating the love between two people, but it needs to be more. Too many weddings are little more than a narcistic celebration of wealth, materialism, and a romanticized, commercialized version of “love” that has little to do with Biblical love, faith, devotion, or self-sacrifice.

Seriously, ask a pastor you know if they would rather do a funeral or a wedding. I’m guessing the answer would surprise you.

The reason is because at most weddings God is an afterthought. The sanctuary is not so much a sacred space for worship as it is a pretty room with colorful windows and a good sound system. The congregation is actually carefully selected and invited guests. The pastor is usually chosen because they kind of “go with the church.” And of course, the ceremony is a not a time to encounter the divine and to worship God; it is just a troublesome ritual that has to be done before we get to the good part.

If a couple came to me and wanted to begin their wedding like this, I am not sure how I would react. It would probably depend on the couple. I can imagine a couple that really wanted to express their joy through dance. Dance has always been a part of worship, and I would be in favor of an entrance such as this if it were a part of a larger ceremony that celebrated God’s presence in their lives.

I can also imagine a couple that would use this as little more than another way to show everyone how great they are. If a couple, “saw it on youtube, and thought it would be fun,” I don’t think I’d be real supportive. Given the general self-centered, God-ignoring state of our culture, it would be difficult for me to not presume that most couples wanting to do a dance like this would be in this category.

Yes, this appears to be a wonderful celebration. I just have to ask, who is being celebrated?


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