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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Statue on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount   (Painting by Carl Bloch)
High above the hills of Montana stands a familiar figure:  Jesus.

Now this isn’t the very same Jesus who gave a Sermon on the Mount, this is just a statue.  Nevertheless, a controversy is brewing about whether or not it should remain standing on federal land.

Amy Beth Hanson of Associated Press reports that although this statue has been there for 60 years, “a group of atheists and agnostics” have recently asked that it be removed on the grounds that “it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.”

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen instead ruled that “the statue’s secular and irreverent uses outweighed its religious uses.”  What she’s saying is that because “Big Mountain Jesus has been the subject of much frivolity over the years,” the statue gets to stay.

Can’t win for losing here.  Since the statue was originally meant to be a reverent reminder of World War II soldiers who gave their all, such frivolity seems highly dishonorable (from both secular and religious standpoints).

All the more reason to move it to where it can be spiritually appreciated, and adopt another type of memorial in its place.  This will not only honor First Amendment intentions, but will also enhance overall decorum.


Copyright September 2, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tetrad: Blood moons rising

Passover Seder Table    (Photo by datafox)
Not only will a blood moon soon be rising, but the number of blood moons has been on the rise since April 15, 2015. explains that the term “blood moon” refers to the “dusty, coppery red color” that occurs during a full lunar eclipse.

There will be such an eclipse on September 27, 2015.  Three more have occurred over the past year, resulting in "what is known as a tetrad.”

This very rare astronomical series has given rise to a number of theological predictions.  Two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, say that “the tetrad of lunar eclipses is a sign of the end times according to Joel 2:31 (The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes).”

What lends even more momentum to their theory is that this series of blood moons “coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover" (as well as with the Feast of Tabernacles).  Passover is a time of year that is traditionally associated with lamb's blood, death and salvation.


Copyright September 1, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 31, 2015

If the sun suddenly went poof!

Submarine Volcano    (Photo by NOAA)
If you’re the type of person who feels that such imagining is a waste of time, please note that Albert Einstein begged to differ. Wondering what would happen on Earth if the sun suddenly disappeared was his idea of an “important thought experiment.”

Others, too, have given this poof! effect some
serious consideration.  Jessica Orwig of Business Insider offers some intriguing thoughts on the matter.

During the first eight minutes after solar ground zero, we human Earthlings might not notice all that much difference.  Because light and gravity travel at the same constant speed, and because both take “roughly 8 minutes to reach Earth” from our nearest star, it would take that amount of time for us to see or feel the sun’s absence.

After eight minutes, there would still be some light from the heavens.  The other stars would presumably be shining, and “even the planets would remain visible for a brief time.”

Photosynthesis, however, would have stopped at the eight-minute mark.  This would lead to the imminent death of small plants, and to a steady decrease of the Earth’s temperature.  Within a week, Earth’s average surface temperature would be 32 degrees Fahrenheit; within a year, negative 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although this doesn’t bode at all well for humans, it will not necessarily affect the “geothermal-loving organisms” that live deep within the ocean.  They could probably survive for billions of years, deriving “food and energy from the heat coming out of these geothermal vents.”


Copyright August 31, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mayim Bialik: Faith in Hollywood not 'trendy'

Bailik in 2011     (Photo by Tabercil)
Although some faith-related practices have found favor within Hollywood’s “hip” sectors, traditional religious observances seem far less trendy.

Natalie Stone of The Hollywood Reporter writes that Mayim Bialik, star of Big Bang Theory, is a “Jewish married mother of two” who recently visited a friend in Israel.

For this, Bialik received “a lot of negative attention.”  She does not just attribute such flak to political sentiment, but also to “anti-Semitism.”  Bialik recently explained, “It really doesn’t matter what I support or believe, the fact that I’m Jewish and go there is enough – that should be alarming to most people.”

Perhaps if Bialik were to sport a crimson bracelet, she would be more accepted within certain starlit circles. However, she simply states, “I study Jewish texts weekly.” 

Nothing too flashy about that.


Copyright August 29, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

John Rhys-Davis: Thou shalt sometimes judge

John Rhys-Davis   (Photo by Gage Skidmore) 
John Rhys-Davis, the actor who played Gimli in Lord of the Rings, recently emphasized that we are in danger of losing “Western European Christian civilization.”

He attributes this to "political correctness,” which has resulted in “an extraordinary silence in the West” concerning “Islamic extremism.”

Citing numerous instances of beheadings and other brutal acts, Rhys-Davis points out that “people are being enslaved and killed because they are Christians.”

He says that because Westerners “don’t want to be judgmental,” they go to the other extreme of remaining silent about such atrocities.

It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who famously said:  Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.

Is criticizing evil the same as being judgmental?  Rhys-Davis responds with this thought:  I like that kind of judging.  It’s evolved!


Copyright August 29, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hit the road, Mach

Niccolo Machiavelli    (by Santi di Tito)  
“Mach,” short for Machiavellian, denotes a person who acts like a “manipulative jerk.”

Machiavellians tend to “deceive people for their own benefit… see others are weak and untrustworthy, and… ignore moral codes.”

Tanya Lewis of Business Insider reports that although most people have elements of these behaviors, some are considered to be “high Machs.”

During a recent Hungarian study, 16 out of 38 university students scored at a “high Mach” level.  Whereas “low Machs” returned fair offers with fair offers, “high Machs” took advantage of fair offers by manipulating others for personal gain.

Unfortunately, there are material rewards for “high Mach” behavior.  Lewis states that “those who scored high on the Machiavellian scale also earned more money…”


Copyright August 28, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 27, 2015

'Doctor' Dre attempts to heal

Healing Old Wounds   (Public Domain)
With old wounds reopening upon the release of biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” Dr. Dre has some heavy-duty explaining to do.

Women whom Dre had allegedly abused years ago have now come forward to tell their stories.  Michel’le, an R&B singer who had been Dre’s girlfriend, claims that the physical abuse he inflicted upon her included “black eyes, a cracked rib and scars.”  Tairrie B (Dre’s “onetime labelmate”) accuses Dre of “punching her twice in the face” in 1990.

Dr. Dre, who has formerly acted dismissively about such charges, is now coming forth with some apologies.  While not addressing “each allegation individually,” Dre recently stated:  I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man [his past self] again.  I apologize to the women I’ve hurt.  I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.

Joe Coscarelli of The New York Times suggests that Dre has mixed motives for this apology. Nevertheless, it’s a step, and perhaps even a leap of faith. 


Copyright August 27, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved