For some reason I decided to read a book on string theory – “The Little Book on String Theory” to be exact. While I was in Princeton last month, I saw it and thought it was a really cool looking book – and so I’m trying to work/wade my way through it now. It’s proving to be difficult because I have extremely limited knowledge in physics. Tonight I read the following two sentences:
“But string theory is separated from our experience of the world – not by centuries of time, but by a similarly vast gulf in energy scales. Particle accelerators would have to be a hundred trillion times more powerful than the ones going into operation today to reach the range of energies where we think extra dimensions open up and stringy effects could be observed directly.”
I read them to Sarah with the following commentary: “Isn’t that crazy? I mean – the entire research field, books, journals, etc., dedicated to something they can’t even observe directly.”
With a smile, Sarah turned to me and said, “You know you basically described your entire career, right?”
I look forward to reading more about string theory (which is supposed to be the theory of everything) and looking for some possible connections to theology and the work that I do. But those sentences and Sarah’s comment do remind me of the craziness of this thing called ministry that so many folks who read this blog are involved in.
I’m sure it’s normal for those of us who are pastors and involved in ministry to want a “normal” job sometimes. Something we could go to an office and do from 9-5pm, and then come and lead “normal” lives. Something that was clear, concrete and comprehendible. Unfortunately, that’s not our calling.
Like string theorists, our work is in the world of things that can’t necessarily be empirically proven. It doesn’t mean our work is any less important. While not being able to prove many of our theories, they are still the things that drive us and frame our hopes for the world. In fact, faith, hope, love, community, relationships may be some of the most important things in our lives – didn’t the series finale of LOST teach us that?