Category Archives: Video & Music

Who Is Vedran Smailovic?

Here’s a picture:

And what did this musician do, after being away from his Bosnian home for many years, only to return to find it almost completely destroyed?

He played his cello – in the ruins. Every day. Just to basically “flip the bird” to the forces of death and destruction and dehumanity. He said to the world, through his music, “Not. Dead. Yet.”

He also played funerals – even though funerals were often targets for attacks.

His story was the inspiration for this modern Christmas song by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12-24”

Paul O’Neill explained the story behind Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 in an interview published on ChristianityToday’s website:

We heard about this cello player born in Sarajevo many years ago who left when he was fairly young to go on to become a well-respected musician, playing with various symphonies throughout Europe. Many decades later, he returned to Sarajevo as an elderly man—at the height of the Bosnian War, only to find his city in complete ruins.

I think what most broke this man’s heart was that the destruction was not done by some outside invader or natural disaster—it was done by his own people. At that time, Serbs were shelling Sarajevo every night. Rather than head for the bomb shelters like his family and neighbors, this man went to the town square, climbed onto a pile of rubble that had once been the fountain, took out his cello, and played Mozart and Beethoven as the city was bombed.

He came every night and began playing Christmas carols from that same spot. It was just such a powerful image—a white-haired man silhouetted against the cannon fire, playing timeless melodies to both sides of the conflict amid the rubble and devastation of the city he loves. Some time later, a reporter traced him down to ask why he did this insanely stupid thing. The old man said that it was his way of proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, the spirit of humanity was still alive in that place.

The song basically wrapped itself around him. We used some of the oldest Christmas melodies we could find, like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol of the Bells” (which is from Ukraine, near that region). The orchestra represents one side, the rock band the other, and single cello represents that single individual, that spark of hope.

Admittedly Vedran was only in his mid-30s at the time of the siege of Sarajevo, and he wasn’t white haired when he came back, so Paul was in error on that count

But the Cellist of Sarajevo was the inspiration behind a wildly popular modern Christmas tune.


Who is More Pro-Science?

OK, so I just viewed this video:

And I thought, “Well, apparently Dr. Tyson isn’t familiar with moments like this” and my mind went to this:

Or this:

Or this:

And yes, Sherri Shepherd is a Christian. Probably shades more evangelical than not.

Or various rabid Christians who say that homosexuality is a sin – that women’s bodies can shut pregnancy down in cases of rape – that birth control methods like the Pill or Depo-Provera cause abortions and therefore should be outlawed or in some way rendered unavailable for women – condoms don’t prevent AIDS – things like that. At least, this seems to be the way it goes here in the US, anyway. And most of the people who espouse these views are fundamentalist Christian Republicans. They even base policies on these views. And that’s what makes it so dangerous – they seem to want to take the country back to the 11th century or even earlier, and I can’t call that a “good idea” in the 21st century, in this connected/internet age.

Just had to put that out there…

Here We Go Again

Anne Rice posted this on her FB page:

I’ve seen it again and again. Many Christians do not take responsibility for their religion as a whole. They are too quick to dismiss any unpopular Christian as “not a true Christian.” Protestants don’t think Catholics are true Christians. Some Catholics don’t think Protestants are. By the time you list all the Christians who aren’t true Christians, who is left? —- That’s not enough. I feel Christians should take real honest responsibility for their belief system and what has been done and what is being done in its name. Can you join the Ku Klux Klan and claim your little branch are “good guys” and wouldn’t hurt a fly? Why should you be able to join Christianity and refuse responsibility for all that is done worldwide in its name?

OK and in response, I think I’ll let Father Robert Barron take care of this one:

I just don’t even know where to begin.

Holy Saturday: Releasing What Has Been Bound

I love this video so much. Greatest anastasis video ever.

“Anastasis? What is that?”

“It’s Greek for Resurrection. After Jesus’ body died on the cross he descended into hell to save all of those who died in sin before His coming, starting with Adam and Eve.”

“WHAT! Jesus never went down to hell, where does it say that in the Bible?”

Acts 2.27 – Acts 2.31 – 1 Peter 3.19-20 – 1 Peter 4.6 – 2 Corinthians 2.14 – Ephesians 4.8-10 – Zechariah 9.11 – Psalm 68.17-18 – Isaiah 24.21-22

For a good introduction to the Anastasis, check out:

Where Science & Religion Meet

Frankly, I don’t see much of a difference between what Dr. Tyson is saying here, and what Christianity really teaches.

From death, comes new life.

The difference is in HOW the story is told.

Is it told more poetically, in the form of saga or story/myth or poem? Then it’s religion.

Is it told in terms of empirical facts? Then it’s science.

And the line between the two can really blur.

So both religious people and scientific/nonbeliever types need to get over themselves and let the universe be what it is. Getting hung up in semantics can only get you so far.

Abundant Life

I found an interesting essay about the abundant life on this page on Quest For Meaning (a Unitarian online spiritual meeting place, which features streaming worship on Sunday evenings).

I found this segment appealed to my mind:

“…it struck me that the creek, in its careless fullness, in its unceasing abundance, is a kind of model for the ceaseless creative energy of the universe, which is also pouring out and over us all the time, whether we see it or not. So I go back to the creek every year to remember; to remind myself that we stand always in the flow, that the waters of life are washing over us in a springtime torrent every day we live.”

This reminded me of a couple of things I’ve heard from Christian teachers, like Bishop John Shelby Spong:

I like that sink in the basement analogy, with the water overflowing.

In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus says that he has but one purpose in coming into this world, and Bishop Spong addresses that here:

“…that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

What a dizzying idea, when you think on it. Sometimes I wish more Christian preachers would focus on this passage from St. John, because it’s a lot more encouraging than the ones they usually focus on, talking about sin and whatnot. I hardly think that Jesus’ purpose in coming to this life was to yell at people and tell them how awful they are and how miserable they are and how they should be constantly crawling on their bellies in abject shame, etc etc etc. I don’t think he would have given his life for THAT.

Let us find encouragement here. Let us walk in light and joy and abundance. Let us also share this joy generously, let us love wastefully. Sometimes it is hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile endeavor.