Archive for the ‘In The News’ Category

The God Particle

Friday, December 9th, 2011 by JEL

Theoretical physicists have been living with the Higgs boson for fifty years, and actively looking for it for 30 years. What is it? Well, it’s waaay over my head, but its existence would help to explain why particles have mass. Two groups, one outside Chicago and the other in Cern, Switzerland, have been in feverish competition to be the first to locate the Higgs. And next week there might be an answer:

The teams are sworn to secrecy, but various physics blogs, and the canteens at Cern, are alive with talk of a possible sighting of the Higgs, and with a mass inline with what many physicists would expect.

Click to read the whole article, and be sure to watch the short video. It will be huge if they find and it and huge if they don’t…


Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 by JEL

If you can stomach it, try getting through the following new campaign ad from Republican candidate Rick Perry. I keep wondering where all the statesmen (and stateswomen) in this country are. Here’s a doozy from the ad:

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

Perhaps Governor Perry is unclear about the meaning of “equality” and “discrimination.” Letting gays serve openly in the military means that every American now has the right to defend the country. And the possibility to die trying. As for letting kids openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school, perhaps Perry should brush up on his 1st Amendment knowledge.

You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when people like this run for president and actually get listened to. Governor Perry may not be ashamed to admit he’s a Christian, but I’d wager Jesus might have a differing opinion.

Christians In and Out

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 by JEL

Lots of people become Christians, some by birth and others by conversion from a spectrum of influences. But many people also leave the Christian faith. Did you ever wonder why? Is Christianity not providing the spiritual meaning they seek? Are they dismayed at the un-Christian behaviour of their supposed peers?

This study looked at why Christians leave and found a very interesting answer:

A majority (42 out of 50) of the deconverts that we studied did mention frustration with the Christians they knew, but it usually wasn’t misbehavior, per se, rather it was something that I never would have guessed: Frustration with how their fellow Christians reacted to their doubts.

The way that Christians react to the doubts of others can, inadvertently, amplify existing doubt. Many of the writers told of sharing their burgeoning doubts with a Christian friend or family member only to receive trite, unhelpful answers. These answers, in turn, moved them further away from Christianity.

Pastors were among the many giving unhelpful answers. Interesting stuff; read the whole thing.

Theocracy in America

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 by JEL

I happen to think the US Constitution is an amazing document. I especially like the First Amendment, which says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Pretty simple. You have the freedom to believe what you want to believe, and government cannot force any religion down anyone’s throat. And yet, that is exactly what many GOP presidential candidates want to do: create a Christian Theocracy that allows only Christianity and replace our civil law and courts with “God’s law.”

I highly recommend your checking out this article on Slate. It’s positively chilling for fans of the Constitution.

Is the United States sliding toward theocracy? That’s what Republican presidential candidates have told us for more than a year. Radical Islam, they’ve argued, is on the verge of taking over our country through Sharia law. But this weekend, at an Iowa forum sparsely covered by the press, the candidates made clear that they don’t mind theocracy—in fact, they’d like to impose it—as long as it’s Christian.

Wouldn’t Jesus Be More of a Saints Fan?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 by JEL

tim tebow jesus jerseyLooking for an appropriate Christmas gift for your Christian friends? You can’t go wrong with a copy of What He Said, of course. Or, perhaps your friend would enjoy a custom Denver Broncos jersey. It’s got Tim Tebow’s number, but someone else’s name on the back. Reaction has been strong on sides:

“Sports is one thing, and Jesus is another thing,” Traci Yown, a mom Christmas shopping for her son told the network. “I like to have their names, their last names on the jerseys. I’m a Christian, but I mean I wouldn’t want people going around having Jesus on the back of their jerseys.”

But Rev. Marcus Buckley of a Baptist Church in Greer, S.C., believes those who speak out against such public displays of religion are haters.

“To me it just shows a cultural bias against Christ and Christianity,” Rev. Buckley said.


Friday, November 11th, 2011 by JEL

To all the Penn State students protesting the firing of football coach Joe Paterno, I suggest you: go home; read the prosecutor’s report; then take a good long look in the mirror and re-examine your priorities and principles. I realize football is a religion in Happy Valley, but is it really more important than the safety and welfare of children? Have your morals strayed that far? Jesus had something to say about children:

“Allow the little children to come to me! Don’t forbid them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” — Mark 10:14

Which brings me to another related story. Namely, the beating of children in the name of God. There are books about that people have read, taken to heart, and put to use.

There is a brutal movement in America that legitimizes child abuse in the name of God. Two stories recently converged to make us pay attention. Last week, a video went viral of a Texas judge brutally whipping his disabled daughter. And on Monday, the New York Times published a story about child deaths in homes that have embraced the teachings of To Train Up a Child, a book by Christian preacher Michael Pearl that advocates using a switch on children as young as six months old.

What many people may not realize is that in the evangelical alternative universe of the home school movement, tightly knit church communities and the following of a number of big-time leaders and authors, physical punishment of children has been glorified for years.


Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 by JEL

It’s a big world out there, and we at What He Said are all about broadening horizons. I found this article today about the conversion of Iceland to Christianity. Early islanders were pagans who worshipped the Norse gods and were fairly resistant to Christian missionaries’ approaches:

They had limited success in their attempts to convert Icelanders. Allegedly, they were ridiculed and eventually forced to flee the country. The king [of Norway] was of course not pleased to hear that, so he sent his bishop Thangbrandur to Iceland to spread the word of the Lord.

Thangbrandur boasted some success in baptizing a few chieftains but like his predecessors he was also met with opposition and got into trouble because he killed a few Icelandic skalds who composed lampooning poetry about him.

Eventually, King Ólafur learned that conversion by violence and murder was not working and instead pushed preaching. Iceland’s conversion to Christianity became the most peaceful switch in history.

Shattered Crystal

Monday, November 7th, 2011 by JEL

Our family was not a church-going lot when I grew up. My dad was probably the most interested in going, but he deferred to the rest of us and our disinterest. Later on, after the kids were on their own, I found out he got really into Robert Schuller and the whole Crystal Cathedral. He watched the show, wrote them checks, etc. To me, it made no sense that someone preaching the gospel of Jesus should be doing so from a crystal cathedral. Maybe from a mountain in the wilderness or by the shores of a lake, but not from such a gaudy, over-the-top setting.

Predictably, the mighty have fallen. The Crystal Cathedral has filed for bankruptcy and the Schullers, recipients of big salaries and a 10-million loan from the endowment fund, still have their hands out:

“They’ve completely depleted the church’s funds,” one member, Bob Canfield, told the Orange County Register. “But they have shown that they have absolutely no remorse for what they’ve done. They’re still being chauffeured around in limos. We, the congregants, have nothing.”

An email sent recently by Crystal Cathedral administrators said that Schuller and his wife, Arvella, “would appreciate meals over the next three to four weeks.” It added: “They are to be sent to the church in order to be transported to Arvella. The limo drivers could pick up the dinners or meet in the Tower Lobby around 4:30 p.m.”

You can read the whole story here.

Occupy Vatican?

Friday, October 28th, 2011 by JEL

Heck no! Turns out the Pope and the Vatican are saying the same things as the OWS protesters. In fact, they’ve written a position paper urging a global authority to police financial markets:

If Vatican cardinals have yet to join the Occupy Wall Street protesters, a document released by the Holy See calling for a “world authority” to crack down on capitalism suggests some are considering it. Written by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and released on Monday, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority, suggests a beefed-up United Nations could police the financial markets and inject a dose of ethics to replace rampant profiteering and reduce inequality.

Fourth-Quarter Rally

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 by JEL

I’ve always liked watching Tim Tebow play football. He’s a lefty—which is always odd to see in the quarterback position—and his style is a bit unorthodox, to say the least. He also seems like a genuinely nice person who works very hard. Now that he’s in the NFL and getting a chance to actually play with the Denver Broncos, Tebow Mania is taking over. Given Tebow’s fervent faith, some in Christian circles are keeping vigil on his games, seeing his performance as, well, something a bit more than just playing football.

Over at Grantland, Brian Phillips has written a terrific piece on Tebow, God, and Country. Here’s a snippet:

I’m sure there are people who manage to escape the demographic rooting pattern this creates. But in broad strokes, it’s fair to say that how you feel about Tebow depends on how you feel about youth groups and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and, I don’t know, WWJD bracelets and raft retreats with a lot of bonfires and swaying. Other religious players are religious individuals; Tebow is a whole culture. It helps that, as an NFL player, he’s both nontraditional and kind of bad, which makes it easy to see his success as guided by a higher power — if a dude with that background and that throwing motion completes a touchdown pass, it almost has to be a miracle.