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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Imani: The key to a Happy New Year


Public Domain
The last day of Kwanzaa, otherwise known as Imani, coincides with New Year’s Day.  After the holidays subside, and before the new year unfolds, Imani provides a much-needed space for profound reflection.

According to the Official Kwanzaa Website, Imani is both a Day of Assessment and a Day of Meditation. The Akan people of West Africa have historically set aside a day like this as part of their first-fruits harvest celebrations.  An atmosphere of quiet and calm humility assists Imani participants to engage in “reassessment
and recommitment on a personal and family level.”  This often includes the remembrance and honoring of ancestors.

Three questions are highlighted as part of this process:  Who am I?  Am I really who I say I am?  Am I all I ought to be?  The following Odu Ifa meditation can greatly assist with this inquiry:  Let us not engage the
world hurriedly.  Let us not grasp at the rope of wealth impatiently.  That which should be treated with mature judgment, Let us not deal with in a state of anger.  When we arrive at a cool place, Let us rest fully; Let us give continuous attention to the future; and let us give deep consideration to the consequences of things.  And this because of our (eventual) passing.

This is the wisdom of the ages.  Akin to Buddhist mindfulness, it stresses the importance of living life in slower motion and really paying attention.  That which keeps us from being all who we really are then becomes more evident.  Awareness then has a chance of taking precedence over distraction.

Imani.

Faith.

What better way to welcome the new year?

Resources

http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/meditation.shtmll
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa 


 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pan-African philosophers


Egyptian Goddess Maat
In order to coherently discuss Pan-African philosophers, working definitions of “Pan-African” and “philosophy” can be quite helpful.

The Pan-African movement began as far back as the late 18th century – when displaced Africans began uniting against slavery, white supremacy and colonialism.  These earliest efforts included the writing of petitions, letters and pamphlets – the allegiance to universalist ideologies such as those of Freemasonry – and an overall solidarity with Africans throughout Africa and the Caribbean.

Although “Philosophy” might seem too nebulous to define,  Merriam-Webster includes this phrase in its four-part definition:  the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group.  This frees up the term from the ivory-tower image that many ascribe to it.  Philosophy is not just relegated to universities and arcane societies.  It is a living, breathing part of everyday life, and is reflected in traditions the world over.

There is no one Pan-African philosophy.  African philosophers reflect (and co-create) the rich diversity of Africa itself.  For example, Augustine of Hippo in today’s language would be Augustine of Algeria.  He was bishop from 396 to 430 CE in this formerly Roman-ruled, North-African center of Christianity.  Three great Islamic philosophers – Ibn Bajjah, Averroes, and Ibn Sabin – lived in Morocco and heartily debated the merits of Plato and Aristotle.  Dr. Maulana Kaurenga wrote an 803-page thesis on Maat, an ancient Egyptian philosophy.

Kaurenga also founded the holiday Kwanzaa in order to nurture and share the very best of Pan-African philosophy and tradition.  His 2010 Welcome on the  Official Kwanzaa Website states:  …Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.

Resources

http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawaida#Kawaida
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/philosophy
http://www.answers.com/topic/pan-africanism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maat


Copyright on December 30, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved







Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Epiphany: Not over until the Wise Ones sing


The Wise Ones
For those who are once again counting the days until Christmas, not to worry.  It’s still right here and now.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is not just a song title.  In fact, the song stems from the actual twelve days of Christmastide – which usually begins on December 25 and ends on January 5.  Therefore, December 26 (which is often referred to as “the day after Christmas”) is actually only the second of Christmastide’s twelve days.  Those who just didn’t get to the stores “on time” can thus rest assured – there’s still plenty of Christmas left to go around.

The day immediately following Christmastide (January 6) is often referred to as Epiphany (meaning “appearance” and/or “manifestation” in Koine Greek).  Whereas Christmas Day (December 25) celebrates the Nativity of Jesus, Epiphany celebrates the Manifestation of Jesus as the Son of God.  One of the earliest evidences of this Manifestation was the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus.  That is why the Magi are so often honored during Epiphany.  Later came the Baptism of Jesus and the Wedding at Cana.  These, too, have been a key part of Epiphany celebrations.

The Biblical Magi (aka Wise Men, Three Kings) came from the East to honor the baby Jesus (the only Gospel to tell of this event is Matthew 2).  According to this account, a star guided them to the place where Jesus lay.  Rev. John Henry Hopkins picked up on this theme when he wrote the famous carol We Three Kings of Orient Are.  It expands upon the three gifts that Matthew mentions:  gold (to crown Him again); frankincense (owns a Deity nigh); and myrrh (breathes of life of gathering gloom).

It seems that neither Christmas nor Epiphany is really over until the Wise Ones sing:  Guide us to Thy perfect light.

Resources     

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_(holiday)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Magi
http://www.carols.org.uk/we_three_kings_of_orient_are.htm
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%202;&version=NIVUK;
     

Copyright December 29, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holy Innocents: The Massacre and the Triumph


Triumph of the Innocents
Much has been written about King Herod’s alleged Massacre of the Innocents.  Matthew 2:16-18 tells us that - as prophesied by Jeremiah - Herod had all the youngest males in Bethlehem killed in order to protect his throne from then-Baby Jesus, the proclaimed new King of the Jews.

Many artists have painstakingly depicted what they imagined this bloody scene to have looked like.  The great Flemish painter, Rubens, shows piles of young bodies – some being forcefully snatched from their anguished parents, others lying dead on the ground.  Most other well-known portrayals focus upon violent details such as these.

One painting, however, markedly differs.  Instead of bearing the usual title, Massacre of the Innocents
this painting is called Triumph of the Innocents.   It shows a soul-stirring aftermath to the massacre – one
in which the spirit bodies of these innocent first Christian martyrs are now free to accompany the Holy Family to Egypt.

The painter of this vision was William Holman Hunt, a cofounder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  One
pervasive belief of this Brotherhood was that art is essentially spiritual in nature.  Although Hunt was known as a realist, his realism was balanced with idealized perspectives.  This could explain why, instead of focusing upon the gory details of the massacre, Hunt instead focused upon its spiritual implications.

Interestingly enough, another cofounder of the Brotherhood – John Everett Millais – was sharply criticized for his portrayal of Christ in the House of His Parents.  According to Wikipedia, none other than Charles Dickens accused Millais of making Mary look “ugly,” and the entire Holy Family look like “alcoholics and slum-dwellers.”  Dickens considered this style of realism to be blasphemous.

Should members of the Holy Family instead look like supermodels?  Conversely, should Hunt’s angelic
innocents instead look a little more battle-scarred?  Striking a true balance between the harsh details of this realm and the alluring details of other realms is a formidable challenge for artists and philosophers alike.  Even when the spiritual ultimately triumphs, it remains crucial not to minimize the prior struggles.

Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Raphaelite_Brotherhood
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Matthew+2%3A16-18
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Holman_Hunt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Everett_Millais
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Paul_Rubens

Copyright December 28, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fruitcake: The better butter batter

If you think that the fruitcake sitting on your back shelf is a problem, bear in mind that it could have been much worse. 

Had you been in ancient Rome, you may have been given this oldest-known version instead:  barley mash sprinkled with pine nuts, raisins, and pomegranate seeds.  Not appetizing?  Then there’s always this one from the Middle Ages:  batter with preserved fruits, honey and  spices.

Although this is now beginning to sound like something to wash down with a cup of tea, the batter back then often left something to be desired.  That something was butter.

Abstaining from butter was part of the Catholic fasting practices at that time in countries such as Germany. German-style fruitcake (stollen) therefore began with just these three humble ingredients:  flour, water, and oats.  Since this is not all that different from many kindergarten paste recipes, people eventually protested.

Two such people were Prince Elector Ernst and Duke Albrecht - both rulers of Saxony.  Rather than just sitting around grinding their teeth on this gritty mix, they decided to do something about it.  They dashed off a letter to the Pope, requesting permission to substitute butter for the sometimes-added, always-challenging
turnip oil. 

Permission was denied for many years by many popes.  After Nicholas V (1447-1455), Callixtus III (1455-1458), Pius II (1458-1464), and Paul II (1464-1471) all said No! – finally, Innocent VIII (whose habitual persecutions weren’t all that innocent) said Yes, but…

In what came to be known as the “Butter-Letter,” Pope Innocent VIII took time out from his witch-hunts and inquisitions to declare in writing that the Prince Elector's household could now add the requested butter free of charge, but all others must pay for the privilege.

Perhaps the bitter aftertaste of this reply still lingers enough for some to shun even the better butter batter.

Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruitcake
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stollen
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_VIII
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_popes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting_and_abstinence_in_the_Roman_Catholic_Church

Copyright December 27, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day: Boxed-in by poverty


Molineaux vs. Cribb
If Rocky had lived back when, he would have more likely been a Boxing-Day “welfare recipient” than a Boxing-Day hero.  That’s because Boxing Day has underlyingly been much more about duking it out between social classes than it has been about duking it out in the ring.

Consider the words to the Good King Wenceslas carol:  Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen (St. Stephen’s Day – the 26th of December)…  When a poor man came in sight gath’ring winter fuel…  (Although a good, and Catholic, king - Wenceslas was probably ensconced in his castle, page at his bidding, as he contemplated the fate of the poor man out there in the “cruel frost.”  This “Saint” Wenceslas then ordered the lower-class page to bring him flesh, wine, and pine logs - which no doubt the page lugged as they took off through the winter’s night.)  The author of these lyrics, John Mason Neale (who was himself a member of an upper class), then concludes:  Therefore, Christian men be sure, wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

Certainly, it is more of a blessing to give the poor a handout once a year than not to.  However, it would be way more of a blessing to truly begin to address the underlying reasons for the gaping chasm between the rich and the poor.  Instead, Boxing Day has merely served to reinforce this class distinction.

As Snopes pointed out: … equals exchanged gifts on Christmas Day or before, but lessers (be they trades people, employees, servants, serfs, or the generic “poor”) received their “boxes” on the day after.  It is to be noted that the social superiors did not receive anything back from those they played Lord Bountiful to:  a gift in return would have been seen as a presumptuous act of laying claim to equality…

Resources

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/boxingday.asp
http://www.carols.org.uk/good_king_wenceslas.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mason_Neale

Copyright December 26, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 25, 2010

O Holy Night: Dreaming of a black and white Christmas

The third stanza of O Holy Night is the one that’s most often overlooked.  Although most know the song’s heavenly strains, few focus upon its earthly message.

That message is summed up in these few lines from the third stanza:  Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.  Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease. 

The person who wrote the original version of those lines was Placide Cappeau, a non-Christian French poet of the 19th century.  Cappeau, known more back then for his radical socialism than for his poetry, was deeply opposed to all forms of oppression.  He was an abolitionist at heart – thus, the third stanza. 

The poem was then set to music by French composer Adolphe Adam, who was best known until that time for writing operas and ballets.  Between Cappeau’s reputation as a radical, and Adam’s reputation as an entertainer, O Holy Night became more and more ostracized by conservative church officials.  Rumors were started that Adam was Jewish, which made the song’s acceptance into traditional Christian circles even more difficult.

O Holy Night might have eventually faded into oblivion had it not been “rescued” by the American Unitarian minister and music journalist, John Sullivan Dwight.  Dwight was a social idealist who resonated strongly with Cappeau’s abolitionist lyrics.  His now-famous English translation of Cappeau’s inspired words was allegedly first published in 1855.

There are numerous Christmas carols that tell of Christ’s miraculous birth.  What’s particularly unique about O Holy Night is that it strongly upholds Christ’s essential message:  Love one another.

Whether Christmas is white or not…

Resources

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/o_holy_night.htm
http://www.carols.org.uk/white_christmas.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Holy_Night
http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/johnsullivandwight.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placide_Cappeau

Copyright December 25, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas who?


Major Henry Livingston, Jr.
Clement Clarke Moore did a lot of inspiring things during his long and productive lifetime (compiled a Hebrew and English Lexicon, helped to organize a parish church, was a seminary professor, published a collection of poems), but whether he actually wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas (aka Twas the Night Before Christmas) is still being debated.

Famed forensic-linguist Donald Foster does not believe that Moore was the author.  When documents are examined for authenticity, the following is taken into account:  ink, paper, handwriting, sequence of strokes, printing processes, erasures, alterations, additions, indentations, communication antecedents, communication consequences, and communication characteristics.

If not Moore, then who?

According to Wikipedia, Major Henry Livingston, Jr. “is considered the chief candidate for authorship.”  Livingston, a distant relative of Moore’s wife, had been writing poetry for about ten years before the seven children from his second marriage were born.  Some of this poetry had been published anonymously.  (A Visit from St. Nicholas was also anonymous when it first appeared in a Troy, New York newspaper.)

Some say that Livingston wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas for his younger children.  Several of these children claimed that Livingston read this poem to them years before it was first published.  Not surprisingly, some of Moore’s descendents have made some different-sounding claims.

Doubt remains alive and well here on planet Earth.  Folks will pretty much challenge everything and everyone.  Some are even saying that Santa isn’t for real – that he wouldn’t even exist in shopping malls today if it weren’t for this poem.

Go figure…

Research

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_Clarke_Moore
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Livingston,_Jr.#cite_note-mac-2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Wayne_Foster
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Questioned_document_examination
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_analysis


Copyright December 24, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kosher for Christmas



Not Kosher! (Photo: Profberger@en.wikipedia)

Of the many reasons modern-day man gives for keeping kosher (health, sanitation, environment, etc.) - the most foolproof one seems to be this:  Because the Torah tells me so.  Substitute the word “Bible” for “Torah” – and you’ve got what sounds like the follow-up to “Jesus loves me, this I know…”

The Torah is, indeed, a foundational part of the very same Bible that Christians use.  It consists of at least the first
five books of the Hebrew Bible (or what many refer to as the “Old Testament”).  These books include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – which contain stories, such as the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt, that are integrally tied to Christian theology.  If books from the Torah were simply “old” stories that are no longer relevant, would Christians today still be fiercely debating on the merits of the Genesis creation stories?

Certainly cases can be (and are being) made for picking and choosing what parts of the Hebrew Bible are especially relevant to Christianity.  These cases are also being fiercely debated.  Why choose some sections and not others?  Faith picks up where logic leaves off in resolving conundrums of this sort.

Therefore, keeping kosher for Christmas (and throughout the rest of the year) might be part of some people’s Christian faith.  Knowing some essentials about the kashrut laws might therefore be important for all Christians.  Some might then be inspired to try at least some of these Torah instructions.

According to Judaism 101, the kashrut (kosher) laws include:  the prohibition against eating certain kinds of animals altogether; the killing in specific ways of birds and mammals that may be eaten; the prohibition against eating certain parts of even the permissible animals; the prohibition against grape products that were processed by non-Jews; the prohibition against eating the flesh of permissible birds and mammals together
with dairy products; and the draining or broiling out of all blood from permissible meat and poultry.

Resources

http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashrut


Copyright December 23, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nuns score a Honus run


Public Domain

Don’t need an umpire to call this one. 

The Baltimore School Sisters of Notre Dame have scored big with their sale of a rare Honus Wagner baseball card to the current highest bidder – Philadelphia cardiologist, Dr. Nicholas DePace.  DePace, a Catholic, became the winning bidder after the original one failed to meet the payment deadline.  Although DePace at first balked at the $220,000 “price tag,” he is now delighted that the nuns will be using this money to support their international schools and ministries.

Honus Wagner might have been delighted, as well.  Within the historical accounts of this baseball card are anecdotes about Wagner’s social consciousness.  After the T206 Honus Wagner cards were first issued by the American Tobacco Company from 1909 to 1911, Wagner put a halt to their production.  Some say it was because he didn’t get enough compensation from the tobacco company.  Others say it was because he didn’t want youngsters buying cigarettes in order to get this card.  Perhaps a little of  both…

According to Scholastic, Honus Wagner was dubbed “immortal” by none other than Babe Ruth himself.  Ruth went on to explain that Wagner was “head and shoulders above anyone else” as a shortstop.  That sort of gumption was evident early on.  When Honus was only twelve, he dropped out of school in order to help his father and brothers mine coal.  During whatever precious free time they had, Honus and his family would play sandlot ball.  Incredibly, three of his brothers also went on to play professionally.

Wagner has been honored in many ways.  He’s on a U. S. postage stamp.  He’s been described in an Ogden Nash poem.  A stadium in his home town of Carnegie, Pennsylvania bears his name.  He’s the inspiration behind a William Hartz march.

His legacy is now blossoming once again – thanks to this unlikely "marriage" of nuns and baseball.

Research

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Catholic-nuns-sell-Honus-Wagner-card-for-262000-15092916?GT1=39002
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honus_Wagner#cite_note-3


Copyright December 22, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ursids: The two bears

Once upon a time there were two bears:  Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.  They weren’t always in the sky.  Plus, they weren’t always bears.

Ancient Greek mythology tells us that they used to be Callisto (Ursa Major) and Arcas (Ursa Minor).  Callisto was a nymph (a relatively minor female nature deity) who was closely associated with the
huntress-goddess Artemis (later Diana).  Artemis was big on virginity, and all of her nymphs had to abide by that vow.  Callisto, who was quite taken with Artemis, willingly did.

Therefore, there was more than one big problem when married Zeus decided he just had to “have” Callisto (perhaps he couldn’t help himself - for the name “Callisto” means “most beautiful”).  In order to sneak past his wife, Hera – and, in order to fool Callisto herself, Zeus cleverly disguised himself as Artemis. 

This would have been the stuff that romance is made of had Callisto welcomed these advances.  It was instead the stuff that sensationalism is made of.  Zeus forced himself upon Callisto, which resulted in a pregnancy.  The numerous storylines that then follow do not improve things any.

Some say that Artemis discovered Callisto’s pregnancy while Callisto was bathing - and then wrathfully turned Callisto into a bear.  Callisto therefore gave birth to a baby bear – Arcas.   It just wouldn’t do for the king of gods to have two bosom bear buddies on the loose, so he turned them into barely-there sky bears.

Others say that Callisto was able to give birth to a human son.  The young lad, Arcas, therefore grew up with a bear of a mother.  He became an ace hunter (hmmm…), and wound up shooting Callisto as she ran past him in the woods.

How they both wound up in the sky is anyone’s guess (Zeus is again a prime suspect), but perhaps the Ursid showers are the angry sparks that still fly between this ill-fated mother and son.

Resources

http://meteorshowersonline.com/showers/ursids.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callisto_(mythology)


Copyright December 21, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved
 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Voyager I: For the Record


Voyager Golden Record (NASA Photo)

As Voyager I gets closer and closer to exiting our solar system, it takes with it a Golden Record that portrays slices of life from planet Earth circa 1977.

This Golden potpourri of sights and sounds from around the world includes the following:  singing birds, rolling thunder, greetings in 55 languages, Mozart, crashing surf, Bach, whooshing wind, Chuck Berry, DNA replica, animal pictures, mathematical equations, whale sounds, human anatomy - people dancing, laughing, working…

How about people worshipping?  Believing?  Praying?  Meditating?  If a team of today’s interfaith leaders were to select a sampling of images and sounds that best reflect human spirituality, what would it look and sound like?  Would it include Da Vinci paintings?  Buddhist statues?  Yoruba figurines?  Qur’an calligraphy?  Torah scroll work?  

Would there be some chants?  Gospel greats?  Bluegrass hymns?  Call and response?  Sermons?  The Lord’s Prayer?  Great Spirit Prayers?  Carols?  Mantras?  Kirtans?  Doxologies?  Incantations?  Bells?  Gongs?  Drums?  Flutes?  Harmoniums?  Sanskrit?  Latin?  Hebrew?  Aramaic?  Swahili?

Interestingly enough, some Theosophists and Hindus believe that a spiritual record of all that has ever occurred (here on earth and throughout the cosmos) already exists.  It is known as the Akashic (Sanskrit for Aether, Sky or Space) Record, and exists in a non-physical realm of consciousness.  This Record is allegedly updated automatically and continuously – and includes such esoteric knowledge as the history of Atlantis, and the 28th-century future of Earth.  It has also been referred to as the “Hall of Records” and the “Book of Life.”

Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_Golden_Record
http://www.spacetoday.org/SolSys/Voyagers20years.html
http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashic_records
http://www.amazon.com/Murmurs-Earth-Voyager-Interstellar-Record/product-reviews/0345315367/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

Copyright 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Michael Vick: What makes him tick?


Photo by Cartouche
There’s an old saying:  Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.  The shoes that Michael Vick wore as a child were probably far from shiny new.

Vick was one of four children born to unmarried teenaged parents. His mother and father worked long hard hours just to keep the family afloat.  They lived in public housing near which drug deals, drive-by shootings, and other abusive events were commonplace.  Vick told the 2001 Newport Daily Press this about his childhood:  I would go fishing even if the fish weren’t biting, just to get away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects.

Football was another saving grace.  His father - known for his own prowess on the field - began teaching his son how to play when Vick was only three.  Vick also began playing sports at a local Boys and Girls Club.  These uplifting influences helped him tremendously.  In 2001, Vick said this to Sporting News magazine:  Sports kept me off the streets…  It kept me from getting into what was going on, the bad stuff.

It seems that the struggle between good and evil was prominent for Vick even back then - and that much of the time he chose the good, against some pretty tough odds.  It seems that he is now still doing just that.

After succumbing to the likely influence of his violent youthful circumstances, Vick paid dearly for this lapse.
He served time in federal prison, and lost millions of dollars in advertising revenue.  Did he pay as dearly
as those that he cruelly abused?  He did not.  However, is “an eye for an eye” the best form of justice – or does “it make the whole world blind” as Gandhi mercifully believed…

It seems that Vick is once again on the good side of this all-too-human struggle.  To outright condemn him
is to outright condemn ourselves.  None of us truly know what we would be like if we trudged the miles he did  in his long-ago shoes…

Resources

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/542514-mike-vick-a-defense-why-we-should-forgive-him
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Vick#cite_note-Puzzling-7


Copyright December 19, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved



Saturday, December 18, 2010

UBS: Lipstick on the dollar


Public Domain

Ever wonder what the BS of UBS stands for? 

It seems as though not enough people have - since UBS (which claims to be the crème de la crème of wealth management) managed to lose not only the cream, but much of the milk itself.  Translated into francs and centimes, this means that UBS has racked up some ultra-strength financial losses.

But not to worry…  UBS has a multifaceted plan to make this all seem better.

According to Reuters, UBS customer-facing employees may soon be asked (or told) to forego those valentine-red frillies in favor of flesh-colored underwear.  There may also be less spice in the food department because “smelly” foods are another proposed no-no.  Tobacco could also be out, not particularly because of health concerns - but because it, too, stinks.

Cover-ups, as in facial make-up, would be in.  This female-specific part of the proposed UBS dress-code is based upon the premise that “wearing make-up gives the impression of competence.”  This from a company that proclaims its commitment to (a) “engaging, developing and retaining a high impact workforce,” and (b) employee “diversity in gender, ethnicity, age and other factors…”

Two immediate questions come to mind:  Why would a truly “high impact workforce” need to accentuate the positive with eyeliner?  And - are male employees afforded their own opportunity to put their best face forward?

The more compelling questions are these:  Could this emphasis upon creating a surface impression be a subtle form of skirting an underlying issue?  If so, would face-saving tactics like these best be relegated
to the “Thou shalt not” pile?

Which begs the larger question:  In many corporate and other professional settings, have we (long ago) reached the point at which profound wisdom is overshadowed by cosmetic improvements?

Resources

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE6BD10720101214
http://www.ubs.com/1/e/about/ouremployees.html












Friday, December 17, 2010

Lady Gaga: A jerky aftermath


Bison Bull  (Public Domain)
We’ve come a long way (in an irreverent direction) since the days when hunting was considered to be a sacred activity.

Artemis (Diana) was considered by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the goddess of the hunt.  At the same time, she was thought to be the goddess of wild animals and the wilderness.  By modern standards this might seem contradictory - but ancestral religions often paid homage to the sacrificial gifts of those
they hunted.

When the Native Americans hunted the buffalo, they greatly honored its essence.  According to the Nature  documentary,  American Buffalo: Spirit of a Nation, reverence for the bison was at the forefront of the Lakota hunting tradition.  Lakota tribe member Luther Standing Bear is quoted as saying:  The Indian was frugal in the midst of plenty.  When the buffalo roamed the plains in multitudes, he slaughtered only what he could eat and these he used to the hair and bones.

Neo-Pagans often nurture this same type of gratitude for nature’s gifts.  In November 2010, Nels Linde
presented their philosophy in his article, Pagans Hunting, A Sacred Way.  He describes the first day of deer-hunting season as “a time of purification and blessing, prayer and thanksgiving.”  One of the Pagan hunters whom he interviewed sees himself as part of the grand “circle of life.”  This hunter explains:  The
deer eat the vegetation, I eat the deer, and eventually I will go back and feed that vegetation with my remains.  He contemplates this animal’s beauty, even while hunting it.  Artemis also favored deer, and
is often depicted with one.

And then there’s Lady Gaga  She’s back in the headlines (as if she ever left them) because her infamous meat-dress made it to the top of Time Magazine’s 2010 fashion list.  Although she claims that this meat-dress has served some sort of altruistic purpose - to many it seems far more jerky than quirky.

Resources

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2010/12/lady-gaga-meat-dress-fashion-statement.html
http://www.rightcelebrity.com/?p=10226
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1647732/20100913/lady_gaga.jhtml
http://pncminnesota.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/pagans-hunting-%E2%80%93-a-sacred-way/
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/american-buffalo-spirit-of-a-nation/introduction/2183/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemis

Copyright December 17, 2010 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved