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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sticky fingers: Guilty as sin?

Are yours sticky?   (Photo by Pereru)
Although nothing in this world of illusory possessions is truly ours, there are some things that the law allows us to come by

Then there are those things that “stick” to our fingers, even though they legally belong to someone else.  Is that stealing?  Depends upon how ethically picky you wish to get…

Take pens, for instance (which many people do).  If a pen is not literally chained to a desk, does this mean that it is up for grabs?  How about sugar packets at a restaurant?  Does
buying a cup of coffee entitle you to free sugar for the rest of the week?

People are also prone to stealing other people’s time.  Joining a “15 items or under” line at the supermarket with a full cart means that you are holding up the rest of the line.  Another common tactic entails rushing to an adjoining cashier the moment he or she opens, which can preempt those who were waiting longer than you.

Let's not even begin to count that which hotel guests consider theirs for the taking.  Erika Rawes of Life Cheat Sheet explains that “more than one-third (35 percent) of hotel guests admit to stealing hotel amenities
like towels and linens.”  The United States was “pretty low on the honesty list” in this regard, “ranking in at No. 23 out of 29 countries.”

As for “borrowing” without returning, how many have done this at one time or another?  Guilty as sin?  It’s never too late to return that Tupperware container.


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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When 'selfish' works

Relax & Enjoy!   (Photo by Maurajbo) 
As the airplane is getting ready to roll, travelers are given some safety lessons.

In case of emergency, passengers are warned to put their own oxygen masks on first; it is only then that they will be able to assist others. 

This exemplifies the practicality of what is often derided as “selfishness.”  Alison Goldman of Women’s Health explores a number of other instances “when you should 1,000 percent put
yourself first.”

She challenges the negative connotations that the word “selfishness” often has, and offers the term “selfitizing” to describe those times when putting yourself first yields goodness for all concerned.

For example, pushing the limits on physical health in order to be there for others can result in so much illness on your part that others will then have to “wait on” you. Although there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with needing such help, this is probably not the outcome that you were originally seeking.

There is also the thought-provoking perspective that you too are one of God’s children; therefore, why should your own well-being not be as important as anyone else’s?


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

Monday, August 18, 2014

'Monks' on Mars

(Saint Anthony the Great)
Although flying off to Mars might sound exciting in theory, the reality is much more like the life of a monk than it is like the life of an adventurer.

The Desert Fathers (and Mothers), for example, practiced Christian ascetic living within a stark region of third-century Egypt.  These small monastic communities adhered to strict routines that didn’t leave much worldly wiggle room.

Irene Klotz of Reuters reports on a team of researchers whose lives sound eerily similar to those of the erstwhile Desert Fathers.  These researchers “have been living in a mockup Mars habitat on a Hawaiian volcano practicing isolated living on the Red Planet.”

This team mainly remains within the confines of a 1,000-square-foot dome.  When members do venture forth into the surrounding environment, it is to accomplish specific tasks that are integral to the overall mission.  One member noted:  I haven’t seen a tree, smelled the rain, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months.

Lest these scientific "missionaries" completely forgo their secular lives,
some non-monastic entertainment is provided.  In addition to the “flavorful mush” that they regularly
consume, these would-be astronauts also enjoy “movies, board games and exercise.” 


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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Watermelon: Some juicy tidbits

Merchant's Wife  (by Boris Kustodiev)
Watermelon (actually one big “pepo” berry) most likely originated in Africa.

Wikipedia explains that the Pharoah Tutankhamun was buried with some watermelon seeds for his afterlife journey, and the Bible mentions that the Israelites munched on the juicy innards while enslaved in Egypt.

By the 10th century, these fetching berries had made their way to China, a country which “is today the world’s single largest watermelon producer.”

Moorish invaders introduced this fruit to Europe in the 13th century; Europeans introduced it to North America in the 17th
century.  African slaves also spread its popularity throughout the world.

Today watermelons can be routinely found in supermarkets.  Piled on high within bins, they look especially enticing on hot sunny days.  Nevertheless, some end up tasting more like crunchy water than like manna
from heaven.

How to avoid this fate worse than warm soda?  MSN Living offers these juicy tips for picking just the right watermelon:  go for the heavier ones – they are usually the ripest; look for a creamy yellow spot where the watermelon had rested on the ground; and listen for a hollow sound while tapping it.


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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ebola survivors often shunned

Ebola Virus     (CDC photo)
For those fortunate enough to survive Ebola, the aftermath can be almost as challenging.

Reminiscent of the days when AIDS was new to many, a combination of ignorance and fear (rather than love and compassion) seems to be ruling society’s response to Ebola survivors.

The Conakry, Guinea Associated Press reports on the case of 26-year-old Kadiatou Fanta. Although she has now been given a clean bill of health, Fanta laments:  No one wants to spend a minute in my company for fear of being contaminated.

Not only has her boyfriend refused to spend time with her, but even her medical-school instructors no longer want her in their classrooms.  Fanta has been told that she can now be “graded by telephone.”

If even medical instructors are this prejudiced against Ebola survivors, what are the chances of the average person befriending them?

It seems that a health-education campaign is warranted, and the sooner the better.  The public needs to be reassured that “the Ebola virus is only transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of the sick, such as blood, saliva, urine, sweat or semen.”  The public also needs to be instructed that survivors with a clean bill of health are no longer in the contagious stages of the disease.

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Colbert's conservative side

Colbert  (Photo by David Shankbone)
Although the public knows in theory that Stephen Colbert has a conservative side, they don’t often get to see it.

The off-stage Colbert is a devoted Catholic who is extremely supportive of U.S. military veterans.  He also has some sincere advice for youths who are struggling with romantic dilemmas.

The Sideshow reports that during a Rookie Mag Q&A session, Colbert was asked why teenage guys make catcalls and joke about rape.  Colbert explained that they are seeking attention and don’t necessarily “mean to be harmful.”

In response to a 19-year-old female who complained that her father didn’t permit her to sleep at her boyfriend’s house, Colbert suggested that since she is still living under her father’s roof, perhaps she could also be open to accepting her dad’s “relationship advice.”

When a young lady from Mexico City asked Colbert how she could tell whether someone liked her, he gave this thoughtful reply: “ nice definition of love is that another person’s happiness is more important than your own…”


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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet 'Doctor' Limbaugh, the suicide expert

Political Myopia  (Thor Erik M. Hansen)
If you’re contemplating suicide, perhaps you should give a listen to “Doctor” Rush Limbaugh, the self-proclaimed suicide expert.  After listening to his theories, you might laugh so hard that suicide suddenly seems irrelevant.

Ed Mazza of The Huffington Post reports on Limbaugh’s fatuous pronouncement about Robin Williams’ suicide.  According to Rush, Williams killed himself because of “pessimism and darkness, sadness… it fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has.”

What researchers who actually study the data have found is that “suicide rates tend to be higher in states that vote Republican and have a higher rate of gun ownership.”  An additional study indicated that there are “higher suicide rates in Australia and the United Kingdom when conservative governments are in power.”

Limbaugh also couldn’t resist “diagnosing” Williams’ alleged survivor’s guilt regarding friends Christopher
Reeves, Andy Kaufman and John Belushi.  Limbaugh explained, “Well, that is a constant measurement that is made by political leftists when judging the country.”

If this last statement of Limbaugh’s seems somewhat out in left field, that’s par for the course.  Rush seems
obsessed with viewing most situations through lenses that hardly correct for political myopia. 


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