Higgs Particle / Nothing is as Simple as It Looks

by Stephen Hebert on Wednesday - 14 December 2011

in This and That

While wading through coverage for the announcement about the possible discovery of the Higgs particle, I decided to do a little background research. I hopped over to wikipedia and read this description of the Higgs mechanism:

In particle physics, the Higgs mechanism is the process in which gauge bosons in a gauge theory can acquire non-vanishing masses through absorption of Nambu-Goldstone bosons arising in spontaneous symmetry breaking.

Oh yes. Gauge bosons and Nambu-Goldstone bosons. Of course. Got it. I then started to read about QCD (Quantum Chromodynamics), and a number of other theories that are really quite meaningless to me. As I went through this exercise, an old idea was reinforced:

Nothing is as simple as it looks.

There are many days in my classroom when I struggle, because my students make assertions about Christian theology that are very simple. (NB: There is a difference between “simple” and “incorrect.”) Because I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about and researching that particular issue, I often see a greater level of complexity.

To me, this is the beauty of theology. Though we slap the -ology suffix on it and call it a field of knowledge, we cannot deny the element of mystery. As we delve deeper and deeper into it, we might be met with answers, but we always find more questions.


Glorifying His Name (John 12.20–32)

by Stephen Hebert on Wednesday - 30 November 2011

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

Today’s reading: John 12.20–32:

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

I love this image of the heavens thundering, but the apostles hearing a voice:

“I have glorified [my name], and I will glorify it again.”

Within the immediate context of this passage, the voice must be referring to the crucifixion and resurrection. This is clear from the metaphorical meaning of the previous passage concerning the wheat which  must go into the ground in order to bear fruit. Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, however, is the firstfruits of a mighty harvest; we too must die in order to bear fruit.

My students often ask me: “What do I need to do to be in God’s will?” Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish God’s will, forgetting that he will take care of what is necessary to accomplish his promises. We strive and strive and strive, and so often we fail. My answer always comes from Matthew 23:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love others.

Notice the lack of selfishness here. There is no real concern for self — only for others. We kill of the self in order to serve the other. We experience a death that leads to ultimate life. Love God; love others. If we are doing these things, then I have no doubt that God’s name will be glorified.

Father in Heaven,

Let us, your humble servants glorify your name by loving you and loving those with whom we come into contact. May we never forget your abundant love and your own self-sacrifice as we die daily in the hope of the ultimate reward.



The Rejected Stone (Mark 12.1–12)

6 October 2011 New Testament

This morning’s reading, Mark 12.1–12: Then he began to speak to them in parables. ‘A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watch-tower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the […]

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Steve Jobs (1955-2011): Death of a Human Tech God? | Religion Dispatches

5 October 2011 Technology

Steve Jobs (1955-2011): Death of a Human Tech God? | Religion Dispatches. On the occasion of Steve Jobs’s death, Religion Dispatch calls attention to a funny Umberto Eco quote which makes Mac out to be Catholic and DOS out to be Protestant: I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is […]

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Politics & Expediency Trump Truth (Mark 11.27–End)

5 October 2011 New Testament

I’ve been following along with the Common Worship Morning Prayer lectionary. This morning’s New Testament reading was Mark 11.27–end. It is amazing to me how some things never change. Let’s look at the text: Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to […]

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A Defense of Good Christian Education

5 October 2011 Education

Paul Wallace shares some excellent thoughts about the validity of a Christian education. He uses Richard Dawkins’s recent comments against the idea of a school for atheists as his framework. Check it out: “Richard Dawkins’ Atheist Academy of Unguided Truth” at Religion Dispatches. It sounds like Wallace’s school fits well with my sensibilities.

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Pulled Post About Donald Miller

5 April 2011 This and That

For a few hours I had a post up called “Donald Miller is an Idiot” a response to his recent blog post entitled “Should the Church Be Led by Teachers and Scholars?” After some thoughtful reconsideration, I’ve decided that the post was too strongly worded. I take issue with Miller’s understanding of what a “scholar” […]

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Duties New and Old

30 March 2011 This and That

On March 19th my son, Gus Howard Hebert, was born. Thanks for all of your well-wishes and congratulations. (Above is a photo of the little booger.)

My wife, Natalie, and I have been adjusting to our new family life. For almost nine years we have lived happily married and on our own. A year ago we acquired our dog, Maeby, and now we have a full-fledged family with a brand new little baby. In the last year we’ve gone from freewheeling to responsibility-laden.

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A Response to Ricky Gervais’s “Holiday Message”

20 December 2010 Ministry

Hot off the heels of my frustration with SparkLife, I decided to tackle Ricky Gervais’s “Holiday Message.” Due to its length, I will skip some stuff. I don’t feel like I’ve skipped anything particularly crucial, but correct me if I’m wrong. Let me also say that I think Gervais is a fantastic comedian. I love The Office and Extras.

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SparkLife: “Life as an Atheist”

16 December 2010 Ministry

This post is long. Deal with it!

One of my students recently referred me to a post on the SparkLife blog called “Life as an Atheist.” After reading the article, I remained annoyed, so I decided to post the article here and offer up some thoughts.

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