From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seven steps to misery

(by Robert Burton)
In case you’re so happy that you just can’t stand it, here are some pointers for becoming as miserable as most.

Begin by considering yourself to be life’s ultimate victim.  Adopt this mantra:  Life is hard, very hard.

Strengthen this position by focusing upon all that’s wrong with the world.  Watch the evening news faithfully.  Better yet, listen to talk shows 24/7.

Don’t bother calling a friend to commiserate with because friends, along with everyone else, are not to be trusted.

In fact, friends should be envied for all that they have, and for all that you wish you had.

It is therefore prudent to try and bring friends down to your own sorry level.  This can best be accomplished through gossip and complaints.

When you find yourself dumped by those you have slandered, it’s time to become frantic about a lonely future. 

Control is now the key to success.  Micromanaging every last thing is about all that’s left to do.


Copyright November 24, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Father-daughter dance: Not like any other

FDC Miami   (Public Domain)
For most fathers, it’s an unmitigated joy to put on some fancy clothes and whirl around the dance floor with their daughters. 

This may occur at a wedding, a graduation party, a holiday affair, and/or many other celebrations.  It hardly ever occurs at a prison, and when it does, the fatherly experience is bittersweet.

The Miami Herald recently reported on a father-daughter dance that took place at the Federal Detention Center Miami.  The idea behind this innovative event was to remind imprisoned fathers that there is “still time to take an active role in their daughters’ lives.”

Inmate Ernest Williams had very mixed feelings about attending.  On the one hand, he longed to reunite with his three girls.  However, Williams also feared the pain that would occur from being so close to them in the moment, yet still so far from going home.

Williams finally decided to attend, due to a dream he had “while sleeping in his cell, an unclouded vision of him dancing with his three daughters.”  Afterwards, he sadly stated:  I am here instead of being outside with my family because of the choices I made.

Now some might say that inmates shouldn’t be dancing, period – let alone with their daughters.  And yet, this experience can go a long way toward keeping families together, even through the very toughest of times.


Copyright November 23, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lammily: Reality's answer to Barbie

Real-Life Prince   (by TheMatthewSlack)
Real-life girls now have an alternative to made-up Barbie.

She’s called “Lammily,” the name being a tribute to her creator, Nickolay Lamm.  Lamm told The Washington Post that he
wanted to show young females that “reality can be beautiful.”

Lammily is much closer to being a “living doll” than Barbie ever was.  If life-sized, she wouldn’t fall forward in the way that overly-endowed Barbie might.  Lammily’s waistline seems to allow for breathing.  She is even prone to acne, stretch marks and (gasp) cellulite.  Plus, Lammily’s actually curvy.

Apparently, there is a growing need for such reality-based dolls.  When Lamm sought crowd-funding for creating Lammily, his original goal was to raise $95,000.  He currently has $501,000, along with more than 22,000 orders for Lammily dolls.

Lest Lammily be lonely, Lamm is also in the process of creating a male companion for her.  This soon-to-be “normal Ken” doll could be “maybe a little balding, maybe a little chunky in the belly.”  Who knows?  He might even have a few chest hairs and dirt stains…


Copyright November 22, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 21, 2014

Priests in love: Growing concerns

Priest at Mass   (PD)
According to the Rev. Thomas Reese of The National Catholic Reporter, St. Peter and “all the apostles were married, so celibacy isn’t intrinsically connected to the priesthood.”

Elisabetta Povoledo of The New York Times reports that there are a “growing number of priest organizations in the United States, Austria, Ireland and elsewhere” that are lobbying for change regarding this issue.

Celibacy is not only an historical “add-on” to the priesthood, but it is also intensifying the growing shortage of priests.  Povoledo writes that “in England and Wales alone,” approximately “10,000 men have left the priesthood to marry in the past 50 years.”

Leaving the priesthood under these circumstances is neither easy nor
pleasant.  Former priests have told of the “demeaning procedures” that accompanied this process.  Bishops have often used persuasive techniques that were far less than supportive.  Priests were pressured to instead switch parishes and go back to the way things were.

Those who do leave find that they are not necessarily prepared for the rigors of the workaday world.  Theology is not always valued within a depressed economy.  To make matters worse, families often turn away from this situation.


Copyright November 21, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 20, 2014

'Unicorn' deer shot in Slovenia

Annunciation   (BurgererSF)
The mythical unicorn, “a symbol of purity and grace,” has been linked with a number of real-life animals.

The now-extinct Elasmotherium, a single-horned rhinoceros “native to the steppes, is one such association.  Another is the narwhal, an Arctic sea animal with one long horn on its forehead.

The eland of Southern Africa is a huge antelope that has been known
to actually kill lions. Shamans have viewed elands as “having a strong connection to the other world,” and their horns have been sometimes attributed to unicorns.

The Bible repeatedly mentions a creature called the re’em, translated
as “unicorn” by the Authorized King James Version and as unicornis by the Vulgate.  The unicorn became known as a beast “that can only be tamed by a virgin,” which became allegorically associated with the Virgin Mary.

The unicorn recently reared its fabled head when a single-antlered
roe deer was shot in Celje, Slovenia. Mail Online reports that its central-bone “deformity was likely caused by an injury when its antlers first grew.”

While not ostensibly "magical,” antler cells grow in “amazing” ways.  In fact, antlers are “the most rapidly growing bones known in mammals.”


Copyright November 20, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Abandoned sites: This too shall pass

Ozymandias   (Photo by Hajor)
The world's great religions all warn against getting too attached to the things of this world.  Along with these warnings comes the reminder:  This too shall pass.

In case mere words just aren’t convincing enough, The Coolist offers a visual presentation of “Abandoned Places: 10 Creepy, Beautiful Modern Ruins.”

These sites include an abandoned Soviet submarine base in Ukraine, crumbling buildings in Detroit, a military hospital
(within which Hitler once recuperated) in Berlin, a City Hall subway station in New York, the Ryugyung Hotel in North
Korea, the “atomic city” of Pripyat near Chernobyl, an entire beach resort in Cyprus, a massive water park in Russia, a towering cathedral in Indiana, and British Sea Forts in the North Sea.

Due to financial constraints, some of these were abandoned before construction was even completed (Ryugyung Hotel and Russian water park).  Others became obsolete for political reasons (Soviet base
and British Sea Forts).  Economic and nuclear disasters took their respective tolls upon Detroit and Pripyat.

These sites may not have had as grand a history as Shelley’s Ozymandias, but they too are fading into the sunset that awaits us all.


Copyright November 19, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FBI to MLK: 'your end is approaching'

Hoover in 1961   (Public Domain)
A National Archives letter from erstwhile FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shows just how dangerous government misuse of personal information can be.

This letter, recently published in its entirety by The New York Times, is also rife with examples of blatant racism.  For example, King is directly referred to by such epithets as “evil, abnormal beast.”  This is reflective of the Jim Crow view that African Americans are somehow sub-human.

In her essay “What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals,” Beverly Gage points out that “the unnamed author [now known to be Hoover] suggests intimate knowledge of his correspondent’s sex life…”  This knowledge had been illicitly gained via “wiretaps in King’s home and offices and bugs in his hotel rooms.”

The information that the government had gained surreptitiously was then used to humiliate, threaten, and perhaps kill King.  In this letter, Hoover told King that his days were numbered, and urged King to commit suicide.

Although we may have taken some steps forward from those Jim Crow days, we have also taken some (huge) steps backwards in terms of government access to personal information.  The careful reading of Hoover’s letter serves as a warning about what can occur when government intervention runs amok.


Copyright November 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved