Monday, March 30, 2009

Monsters and Mandelbrots -and The Shawshank Redemption

On Friday I talked about how I learned about Benoit Mandelbrot, the mathematician who brought fractal geometry into practical application by showing it solved the complexity of nature by re-iterations of a very simple equation.

We covered how the first artifical CGI world for film was made using his work in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. What I did not cover was the more practical application of digital communications that was found by using fractal geometry.

You see our cellular technology has a problem solved by Mandlebrot geometry: your common cell phone needs several antennas to operate the various frequencies it receives - from the microwaves to the short-range beam of a Bluetooth, to a few others I cannot name - it would require a porcupine-looking device.

But by using the "spiraling" maze-like repitition, a cellphone antenna can receive a wide variety for signals of various frequencies. Pretty cool, huh?

If you ever see it, it looks like a very simplified maze or childish pattern on a board - much like a printed circuit.

Now here's what's weird: it is so simple looking, you cannot believe no one saw it before.

But it works magnificently. In fact, only by using Mandelbrot's fractal geometry was this problem able to be solved. According to the film I saw, it was this that established this "pretty geometry" as something critical and useful. Nothing else solved the problem for engineers. Suddenly, Mandelbrot is justified - 'cause - well, because it works!

You and I get trapped with complex problems all the time. We get caught in mazes of our own decisions - some good, some bad. If we are not careful, we spiral inward and crash, being reduced to nothing. There is a strange result of seeing the end of your spiral though. You may - just may - be able to receive communication you were never able to receive before. You may find yourself listening more, hearing more.

But the spiral inward must happen first. I wish this were not so. In Alcoholics Anonymous they have a maxim: "Until you are flat on your back, you cannot look up."

That spiral inward makes the reception better. You aren't going anywhere and you know it.

In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbin's character, Andy, finally has enough of all the horrific oppression of Shawshank prison, he decides to escape - and it is a meticulous, masterful plan that results in the true villains being destroyed: Andy has revealed all their dark secrets to the world. "His judgment cometh - and that right soon." declares the framed needlepoint scripture in the Warden's office as the state troopers arrive to take him into custody.

The problem is that only Andy made it out. Other prisoners who are released after their time is served tend to perish quickly once released. They have gotten "too used" to prison life.

But there is a success and that refreshes the viewer's soul. Red, played by Morgan Freeman, also is released - and that after rebuking the parole board for their lack of honesty. He's become a truthful man, an honest man -no matter what the cost to himself.

He's set free, and he's more scared of being free than being in prison. The world has changed too much in 40 years. All his decisions used to require a prison guard to OK them: "I haven't been able to take a [leak] for 40 years without someone's say-so. I guess old habits die hard."

Finally, he makes a decision: to go find Andy, the one man who truly escaped Shawshank, mentally, emotionally and then physically. He knows its a violation of his parole, but he takes the risk anyway.

Once Red makes his decision he doesn't look back: "We've got two choices - we either get busy living - or get busy dying. That's [dam'] right."

"I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."

Jesus said that in John 10. He said the devil comes to "steal, kill and destroy." He also said that He could give life that no one could take away.

It's a simple equation, life. We all must die. We will physically die, mentally die and sadly, some souls will die way before their body does.

If you want to get busy living, you need to be set free by Someone who has escaped before you - and that includes the prison of fear, of anger, of grief. The prison of bad choices and heartbreak. The prison of loneliness and despair.

Jesus will do that. You only have to ask.

But you do have to ask.

BTW, if you feel have been slaughtered or controlled or "edited to death" by a religious institution - especially a church - you will THINK you "tried that and it didn't work". I know the feeling. Believe me.

Let me be clear: You did not.

Religion can only serve as an editor. It does not create life in any sense. For that, you must ask Jesus. He is life incarnate.

Again - do you need religion? No. That iteration is just "rules taught by men" says Jesus.

Do you need a relationship with God? Yes. That iteration is "everlasting life".

May you chose life in Jesus and get busy in the freedom He alone gives.

If you are in a maze right now, I pray you let your reception become loud and clear.


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