The God Particle

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…


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.

Is “Happy Holidays” a Dirty Word (or two)?

December 5th, 2011 by JEL

The holiday season is upon us, shopping is in full swing, the house decoration contests have begun, and we just got our first Christmas card of the year. Which means soon the media will be filled with stories about the “attack on Christmas.” You know, all those terrible people who greet you with “Happy Holidays” because, well, they just might want to be inclusive.

Anyway, for all those people who get their undies in a knot over “HH” vs. “MC,” please read this great post from Jennifer McGrail’s “The Path Less Taken:”

The only one who can take your Christ out of your Christmas is you.

How do you take Christ out of Christmas?  You take Christ out of Christmas every time you:

Don’t take the high road.

Are less than loving, and patient, and kind.

Gossip, complain about, and judge others.

Are slow to listen and quick to anger.

And yes…. grump and moan and cry about everyone taking Christ out of Christmas, instead of simply showing the people kindness and goodwill and grace, and letting them see through your actions that Christ cannot be taken out of your Christmas because Christ is living in you.  No one can take that away from you, no matter what they believe or what they celebrate or WHY they celebrate.

The post is terrific from start to finish, so please read the whole thing.

Christians In and Out

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 23rd, 2011 by JEL

Tomorrow we celebrate that first feast between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. The Pilgrims, fleeing to the New World in search of religious freedom found harsh conditions they were not prepared to meet. Enter the Native Americans who showed the newbies a thing or two and saved their bacon in the process. History shows how much gratitude they were shown in return.

If you have your health, food to eat, clean water to drink, a roof over your head, and kindness in your life, be thankful. And show some kindness of your own; the world could surely use it. We’ll be back next week.

Theocracy in America

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.

A Favor To Ask of You

November 17th, 2011 by JEL

I’ll admit it. I searched on this here Internet for the most polite way of asking strangers to do something for you. Not that we’re asking you to do anything onerous or involving messy conditions or heavy physical loads.

This blog gets a fair amount of traffic, and we’re guessing that some of you must have purchased a copy of What He Said from Amazon (the only place it’s available). Yet our Amazon page only has 8 reviews, the most recent coming 7.5 months ago.

So the favor to ask of you is this: if you have the book, would you mind going to the Amazon page, scrolling down to the reviews, clicking the “Create your own review” button, and then waxing away on your opinions, feelings, reactions, etc. to the book? We would love to see what you think. And thank you.

Wouldn’t Jesus Be More of a Saints Fan?

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.


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.


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.