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Archive for August, 2013

Thy Broken Body, Gracious Lord

I stumbled across a beautiful little hymn today, squirreled away in the footnotes of a convicting article by C. H. Mackintosh. The hymn was written during the formation of the Plymouth Brethren, between 1837 and 1838, and published in the first brethren songbook, Hymns for the Poor of the Flock. The author is Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, and he penned these words some where around the age of twenty-five. I think this song really brings out both the wonder and importance of the remembrance meeting.

Thy broken body, gracious Lord,
Is shadowed by this broken bread,
The wine which in this cup is pour’d,
Points to the blood which Thou hast shed.

And while we meet together thus,

We show that we are one in Thee.
Thy precious blood was shed for us,
Thy death, O Lord, has set us free.

Brethren in Thee, in union sweet,
(For ever be thy grace ador’d),
‘Tis in Thy name, that now we meet,
And know Thou’rt with us, gracious Lord.

We have one hope—that Thou wilt come,
Thee in the air we wait to see,
When Thou wilt take Thy people home
And we shall ever reign with Thee.

 

Hallelujah! – May the Force Be with You!

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Humanistic Naturalism as a Religion

In the previous post in this series, I said that naturalistic humanism borrows from religion the meanings of joy and good. I have found no greater example of this than in the writings1 of Carolyn Porco. Dr. Porco is a planetary scientist and currently leads the imaging science team on the Cassini mission now in orbit around Saturn. She was awarded the Carl Sagan Award in 2010 for “magnifying the public’s understanding of science.”

The confrontation between science and formal religion will come to an end when the role played by science in the lives of all people is the same played by religion today.

At the heart of every scientific inquiry is a deep spiritual quest — to grasp, to know, to feel connected through an understanding of the secrets of the natural world, to have a sense of one’s part in the greater whole…

Spiritual fulfillment and connection can be found in the revelations of science. From energy to matter, from fundamental particles to DNA, from microbes to Homo sapiens, from the singularity of the Big Bang to the immensity of the universe …. ours is the greatest story ever told. We scientists have the drama, the plot, the icons, the spectacles, the ‘miracles’, the magnificence, and even the special effects. We inspire awe. We evoke wonder.

These are reasons enough for jubilation … for riotous, unrestrained, exuberant merry-making.

So what are we missing?

Ceremony.2

Imagine a Church of Latter Day Scientists where believers could gather. Imagine congregations raising their voices in tribute to gravity, the force that binds us all to the Earth, and the Earth to the Sun, and the Sun to the Milky Way. Or others rejoicing in the nuclear force that makes possible the sunlight of our star and the starlight of distant suns. And can’t you just hear the hymns sung to the antiquity of the universe, its abiding laws, and the heaven above that ‘we’ will all one day inhabit, together, commingled, spread out like a nebula against a diamond sky?

One day, the sites we hold most sacred just might be the astronomical observatories, the particle accelerators, the university research installations, and other laboratories where the high priests of science — the biologists, the physicists, the astronomers, the chemists — engage in the noble pursuit of uncovering the workings of nature herself. And today’s museums, expositional halls, and planetaria may then become tomorrow’s houses of worship, where these revealed truths, and the wonder of our interconnectedness with the cosmos, are glorified in song by the devout and the soulful.

“Hallelujah!”, they will sing. “May the force be with you!”


  1. Dr. Porco’s essay has been edited for brevity. The full essay was included in Edge.org’s 2006 compilation, “What is Your Dangerous Idea?” and can be found at http://edge.org/response-detail/11273.  []
  2. The word “Worship” would be far more appropriate here, considering what Dr. Porco describes in the following paragraphs. []

Music Pick: The Island – My Name is Lincoln

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Music Picks

 

This song starts out with some eerie pads and strings but employs choral elements for the melody. Flowing guitar arpeggios interlude, but the song ends up being an epic piece where brass and drums aggressively complement the vocal melody.  I often studied and conducted research to this music, and now I prepare lesson plans to it. It never really gets old. My wife says it makes her want to fly. I have  heard this piece in the trailers of Avatar and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, so we’re not the only ones who think it is epic.

Steve Jablonsky surprised me in 2005, coming out of relative obscurity to compose the soundtrack for Michael Bay’s sci-fi thriller The Island. Since then, this Hans Zimmer protégé has become a go-to composer for Michael Bay, scoring all three Transformer movies as well as a handful of television series and a number video games. I’m particularly fond of tracks like the grand Arrival to Earth from Transformers and the militant Heroic Assault from the game Gears of War 2.