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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Butterflies: Fleeting souls

'Earthly' Caterpillars   (PD)
In the hopes that butterflies will be around for years to come, U. S. Fish and Wildlife officials are taking steps to save the endangered ones.

Barbara Liston of Orlando Reuters reports, “Two species of butterflies that live in South Florida will be listed as endangered under federal law.”  These species are the Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak and the Florida leafwing.  It will therefore be illegal to “capture or harm” these species, “and their larvae.”

Sharon Peregrine Johnson of Baylor explains that “the winged form of a butterly was a symbol for the human soul” since ancient times.  Aristotle named the butterfly “Psyche,” which
means “soul” in Greek. Russians have called these beautiful insects dushichka, derived from dusha, which also means “soul.”  

Germans have gotten even more specific, thinking butterflies to be “souls of children.”  In days gone by, the Irish tended to agree.  During the 1600s, “killing a white butterfly” in Ireland was prohibited, “since it was believed to be the soul of a dead child.”  The Irish also believed the butterfly to be “a symbol of transformation and creation.”

Christians have believed the butterfly’s three stages of development (caterpillar, pupa, winged creature) to be indicative of “spiritual transformation” (from earthly concerns, to the tomb, and finally to a heavenly rebirth).


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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mia Farrow: First things first

(by Roger LeMoyne for UNICEF)
Mia Farrow will be taking a month’s “vacation” to perform in the Broadway show “Love Letters.”  Although she has starred in such movies as Rosemary’s Baby and The Great Gatsby, her major
preoccupations have long been elsewhere.

In a recent interview with Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, Farrow said that “she’s been so focused on Syria, Haiti, Gaza, Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo and the Darfur region that she often forgets she’s an actress.”

Mia’s son, Ronan Farrow, has urged that she return to acting in order to seek some relief from the “genocide and mass atrocities and injustices” that she is often embroiled with.

However, Farrow only accepted this Broadway role because it won’t be usurping too much precious time.

In other words, first things first.     


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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Christian missionaries: Why risk it all?

Great Commission     (Photo by Lyricmac) 
In the light (darkness?) of religious persecutions
that are taking place throughout the world, what
would make a Christian missionary want to risk
it all in a hostile land?

A predominant reason can be summed up in two
words:  Great Commission.

CNN’s Daniel Burke and Ashley Fantz explain
that the Great Commission “began when Jesus told the apostles to ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’”  Those who have taken this quite literally (in word and/or deed) are now called Christian missionaries.  Those who have fallen while doing so are known as modern-day Christian martyrs.

Although many public commentators have condemned the Commission as being “foolish, or worse,” Christian missionary teams believe that their work is simply Christianity in action.  Missionary-in-Liberia David Writebol recently explained, “…it’s that very calling that demonstrates…  the great things that Christ has done for humanity.  He left heaven and he came to a place of suffering and trouble and went about doing good.”

Not all missionaries preach the Gospel.  Some simply put it into practice, and let their example be their prayer and/or sermon.  Catholic Relief Service workers, for example, have this saying:  We assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.

Copyright September 18, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Easy, breezy, sleazy: NFL bruised

NFL Headquarters (Americasroof)
Cover Girl's claim of being “the official beauty partner of the NFL”  has literally undergone a bruising.

Neha Prakash of Mashable reports that Photoshop-adept protesters of Roger Goodell’s initial “failure to handle the Rice situation” doctored a Cover Girl’s “Get Your Game Face On” ad.  Their
version of the ad shows “a girl with a bruised eye in a display of domestic violence.”

This version went viral on Twitter, sporting the hashtag #GoodellMustGo.  A “women’s advocacy group Ultraviolet” flew banners flaunting this hashtag “over several NFL stadiums during Sunday’s games.”

To date, Goodell is still with the NFL, and Cover Girl is still continuing its original “Game Face” campaign.

So much for protests?  That remains to be seen.


Copyright September 17, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shukatsu Festa: Comfy coffins and more

Haraldskaerwoman  (Photo by Anlace)
Some say that the Japanese Shukatsu Festa has been putting the “fun” back in funerals.

Thousands of gleeful participants would agree.  As they climb into coffins in order to literally try them on for size, there’s time enough to smile for a photo op just before the lid ceremoniously closes.

Because of the photo op, it's important to look one’s ghostly best.  Therefore, there’s some prep work that needs to be before the final take. Oddity Central reports that funeral make-up can be applied to the face “for a deathly pallor.” 

The outfit in which one chooses to allegedly spend eternity can also be carefully chosen.  Customers can sift through racks of robes and such in order to find that perfectly angelic garment.

Although possibly a lot more fun than actually kicking the bucket, these death-before-death rehearsals are also big (real big) business.  This year’s Tokyo event included 50 companies, all vying for the attention of over 5,000 mortal patrons. 

But look out, Japan!  Entrepreneurs in China and the Ukraine are not far behind.  They have already been offering customers the experiences of “rebirth” and “afterlife” via coffin-cozy activities.   


Copyright September 16, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 15, 2014

Memory in a Bottle

(Photo by Zereshk)
From Joan Rivers’ recent hoopla of a funeral to simple memorial services,
there are all sorts of ways to honor those who have passed on.  Every now and then, a particularly creative idea gets put into motion.

Such was the occurrence when Melvin Stanley Clary died this past April.  His bereaved family not only scattered his ashes into the sea, but also launched a “memory bottle” with a photo and a message for those who find it.

ABC News reports that the message reads as follows:  Today My Family
is laying me to rest in a place that I love… the ocean.  If you find this
message in a bottle please go to my Facebook page… post a pic of yourself and where you found me and send me back on my journey.

It didn’t take long for someone 30 miles away to find the bottle.  It had washed ashore along the California coast.  This person followed instructions and posted a message on the Facebook page.  The bottle now continues its journey.

The family is eagerly awaiting further contacts.  Clary’s daughter, Nancy Souza, stated:  I think he [Clary] would think it’s pretty cool that he’s still touching people’s lives.  


Copyright September 15, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thai PM warding off evil spirits

Prayuth (left) meets with Dempsey (right)
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is not only warding off political opposition, but he is also allegedly warding off evil spirits.

Amy Sawitta Lefevre of Bangkok Reuters reports that Prayuth “believes in spiritualism and divination.”  She adds that “everyday life in Thailand still prominently features pre-
Buddhist animist beliefs.”

For example, Prayuth’s cabinet officially began working at 9 a.m. on 9/9 because the number nine is considered to be particularly auspicious. 

The decor within Prayuth's own office reflects the ancient principles of feng shui, which Lefevre defines as “a Chinese form of geomancy.”  His desk is located on the eastern side of the room, a positioning that is “thought to aid quick solutions.”

During a recent meeting, Prayuth intimated that his sore throat and neck pain was likely due to “people putting curses” on him.  The remedy?  Prayuth explained:  I had so much lustral [holy] water poured over my head that I shivered all over.

Prayuth is by no means alone in these occult beliefs.  Analyst Kan Yuenyong of the Siam Intelligence Unit stated, “It’s not just Prayuth, it’s all Thai leaders…


Copyright September 14, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved