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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Saint David: Answer me this

The Flag of St. David

Who is he?
The patron saint of Wales, vegetarians and poets

What is his Welsh name?
Dewi Sant

When did he live?
Circa 500 – 589 CE

What were his occupations?
Teacher, preacher, bishopric, archbishopric, founder of monastic settlements and churches

What were some of his monastic rules?
No personal possessions
No use of the pronoun “my”
Drink only water
Eat only bread, salt and herbs
No draught animals
Pull the plough yourself

What is his symbol?
The leek (same as that of Wales)

What is his emblem?
The dove

Name two of his miracles.
A hill spontaneously arose so that everyone could see him preaching
A white dove then settled upon his shoulder as a sign of God’s grace

What are the three last things he said before dying?
Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed
Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about
I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us

When is St. David’s Day?
March 1st (the day that he died)


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Are Homer and Bart Catholics?

Vatican Gardens (Photo by Marek69)
According to one oft-quoted source, they most certainly are.  That source is the Vatican.

L’Osservatore Romano, the 150-year-old official Vatican newspaper, has come a long way since its traditional emphasis upon that which the average person knows nothing about.  Miracle of miracles – the once treatise-laden pages have now been zapped
into the 21st century by the editorial imagination of Giovanni Maria Vian. 

Appointed to the editorial position in 2007, Vian comes from a family with long-established Vatican ties.  He is greatly trusted by Pope Benedict, who specifically asked Vian to do the following three things with the publication:  feature the Eastern and Orthodox Churches to a greater extent, put more emphasis upon female perspectives, and increase the amount of global material.

According to the Associated Press, Pope Benedict also requested that L’Osservatore Romano become
“relevant to contemporary readers” in order to “show that there can be ‘an opening to God’ even in secular, contemporary culture.”  Vian was then quoted as saying that it’s equally important to write about the Beatles and the Blues Brothers as it is to write about Shakespeare and Gregorian chants.

Somewhat astonishingly, Vian admits to having “sexed up” the news a bit when featuring Homer and Bart as Catholics.  This attention-grabbing article harkened back to the 2005 Simpsons episode entitled “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star.”  According to Wikipedia, this final show of the Simpsons’ sixteenth
season emphasizes religious tolerance.  Homer and Bart investigate Catholicism, Lisa looks into Buddhism, and Marge remains staunchly committed to her “one true faith” of “American Reform Presbylutheranism.”

A new day is surely dawning when the Pope and Vatican not only see “an opening to God” in such efforts, but also openly support them.


Copyright February 27, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cuomo Communion? Let those without sin decide

By Joan de Joanes (1523-1579)

Dr. Edward Peters, legal advisor to the Vatican’s highest court, is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo’s right to receive Holy Communion. 

According to CBS New York, Peters is basing this challenge upon canon 915 of the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.  Canon 915 states that “people who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.”  Peters is citing Cuomo’s outside-of-marriage living arrangements, plus Cuomo’s public support of abortion rights, as examples of obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.

Not everyone agrees with Peters’ stance.  According to the Times UnionCapital Confidential” blog, Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard issued this comeback:  “… it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts.”  These facts are not about to be known, either.  "Capital Confidential" also reported that Cuomo himself stated:  My religion is a private matter and it’s not something I discuss in the political arena.

According to Wikipedia, the sacrament of Holy Communion (aka Eucharist, Blessed Sacrament, Lord’s Supper) began with the instructions of Jesus during the Last Supper.  Jesus showed how wine (blood) and bread (body) can be shared in His memory.  The details of this demonstration (particularly about whether the
body/blood part is literal or symbolic) are being hotly debated to this day.

Interpretations of Jesus and His teachings differ greatly within and beyond Christian circles.  What it might just come down to is this:  Is it best to remember Jesus by judging, or by communing? 

It might therefore be wise to step back, count to ten, and let those who are without sin throw the next barbs at Governor Cuomo.


Copyright February 26, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 25, 2011

Billy Ray Cyrus: Passing the buck to Satan

Satan  (from Paradise Lost)
In light of his recent family difficulties, Billy Ray Cyrus is aching.  That is perfectly understandable.  What is less comprehensible is the conclusion he has drawn from it all.

According to, when Billy Ray is not busy blaming “Hannah Montana” for his problems, he is instead blaming Satan.

Perhaps Satan is somewhat behind this family’s breakup.  The telltale sign might be Billy Ray’s tendency to put all the blame for it outside of himself.  After all, dealing in delusions is what Satan does best.  Perhaps the most destructive of all human delusions is the tendency to favor external blame over internal responsibility.

According to Wikipedia, the original Hebrew term “ha-Satan” meant either “the accuser” or “the adversary.”  “Satan” was therefore not originally the name of a being, but rather the description of a being.  In the Book of Job, “ha-Satan” takes on the added role of “the tester” of human faith in God.  Within that saga, even Yahweh is influenced by Satan to join in the testing of Job.  This version of Satan somewhat resembles the trickster archetype from other traditions, such as the Norse Loki and the Native American Coyote.

Christianity’s “Devil” emerged from this “ha-Satan” history.  The word “Devil” came from the Septuagint
translation of the Hebrew term “ha-Satan” into the Greek term “Diabolos” (“slanderer” or “accuser”).  Satan then became more of a name than a description.  He also was then looked upon as a fallen angel who
commanded a host of other fallen angels (demons).  This fallen group allegedly goes around tempting humans to indulge in sin and evil.  One surefire way they accomplish this is by spreading lies.

Claiming that “the Devil make me do it” may – in fact - be the biggest lie of all.  This sidestepping of personal responsibility insures that whatever it is the Devil is being blamed for will continue for a (not-so) good long time.


Copyright February 25, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 24, 2011

German Diocese: Husband and dad becomes Father

Apostle Paul  
Although Roman Catholicism has certainly been known for its celibate priests, a number of exceptions have actually been made over the years.  A recent exception has garnered worldwide attention because this newly-ordained priest is married to a nun.

Many might ask at this point:  How can a Roman Catholic priest not only have two children, but also be married to a nun?

According to The Washington Post, Harm and Edeltraut Kleuting were married Lutheran clerics with two children (now adults) before converting to Roman Catholicism.  After this conversion, Edeltraut allegedly became a Carmelite nun in 2004 (which is highly unusual since Carmelite nuns generally lead cloistered lives – questions have therefore arisen as to whether this married couple is still living together).

Harm was ordained into the Roman Catholic priesthood on February 22, 2011 by Archbishop Joachim Cardinal Meisner of the Cologne Diocese.  Kleuting has also been given special permission by Pope Benedict XVI to remain married.  On Faith reports:  “In 1950, Pope Pius XII first allowed clergymen who had converted to Catholicism to remain married…”  According to the Cologne Diocese, other married priests have previously been ordained in Regensburg and Hamburg.

The need for celibacy of the priesthood has long been challenged within and beyond Roman Catholic circles.
However, the Catholic Encyclopedia asserts that – even though compulsory celibacy is not specifically called for by the New Testament – there are plenty of allusions to the glory of spiritually-oriented celibacy. Matthew 19:12 is cited, wherein Jesus commends those “which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”  1 Corinthians 7:8 is also cited, wherein Paul refers to his own unmarried state quite favorably, while adding that “it is good for” others to also remain unmarried.


Copyright February 24, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Like a Mussolini bikini: Dictatorship exposed

Benito Mussolini
Could it really be true that, beneath it all, some of the world’s worst dictators are just like you and me?  According to Stephanie Pappas of LiveScience:  Perhaps…

In her recent article “Could You Become a Dictator?” Pappas divvies up dictators into two distinct piles: the “sadists” (citing Hussein and Stalin), and the corruptibles (citing potentially the rest of us).  She hints that sadists might just be made that way from the start – linking their “narcissism and paranoia” to a “personality profile.”  But then she poses this corker:  Could an ordinary, well-meaning person turn into a repressive despot?

A one-way mirror on most bedroom or living room walls would probably reveal quite a few “ordinary” despotic dynamics.  There’s the typical “do it or else” scenario, coupled with the just-as-typical “my way or the highway” philosophy. When the ante gets dangerously upped, there’s also the all-too-common “blame the victim” takedown approach.

Just what is it that turns the average Joe into shades of the average Joe Stalin?  Pappas cites a number of psychological studies that come to this common conclusion:  The expanding power that a person feels in any given situation tends to magnify whatever (positive or negative) tendencies already exist in that person’s psyche.  Therefore, if power corrupts - absolute power can, indeed, corrupt absolutely.

This is probably why many religions consider pride (ego) to be the deadliest of all sins.  Because of its magnification power, it enlivens all of the lesser negativities. It especially preys upon those who are smugly convinced that “it” (fill in the blankety-blank) could never happen to them…


Copyright February 23, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sacred trees: Not just in the Garden of Eden

Mormon Tree of Life

According to Genesis, it didn’t take very long for God to create trees.  In fact, as soon as there was enough dry land to work with, trees were (in the words of not-so-merry old King James) “brought forth.”

One such tree, the Tree of Knowledge, has caused quite a stir in certain theological circles.  It has been implicated in everything from sweat-of-the-brow labor to agonizing childbirth.  Although this isn’t exactly spelled out in Genesis – rumor has it that when Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the Serpent - the Serpent had nowhere to go but to blame the Tree. Trees have been hideously treated ever since.

But not by everyone.

Fortunately, there are some left among us who still revere trees.  The Tree of Life has managed to keep its reputation well in tact.  Some say (while others don’t) that it remained unviolated within the Garden of Eden for far longer than its knowledgeable cousin.  It appeared in a vision of the Mormon prophet Lehi circa 595 BC (centuries after the saga of Adam and Eve).  It later appeared to Lehi’s son Nephi - bearing fruit that was said to be “the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea – the wealthy Sanhedrin member who allegedly donated his own cave for the entombment of Jesus’ body – visited Glastonbury, Somerset, England with the Holy Grail.  It is said that when Joseph thrust his staff into a hill there, the original Glastonbury Thorn sprang up.  This member
of the Common Hawthorne family has been propagated (botany-speak for reincarnated) ever since.  It flowers in winter as well as in spring, allowing for the British Monarch to be gifted with its blossoming sprig each and every Christmas.

When the Norse gods need a central meeting location, they know where to find one.  Yggdrasil (loosely translated “Odin’s horse” – go figure) is a mighty ash with branches that extend all the way to Norse heaven.  It is rumored that Odin, king of the gods, once “sacrificed himself to himself” (a phrase even tougher to decipher than “Odin’s horse”) by hanging from Yggdrasil.

Other sacred trees (and their devotees) can be found in Iran (the Cypress of Kashmar), in Germany (the Donar Oak), and in India (the Parijaat).  In fact, some (Wise Ones) hold all trees as sacred. 


Copyright February 22, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 21, 2011

Did Washington fit the Battle of Jericho?

Touro Synagogue  (Photo by dbking)
“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” is a long-cherished, Afro-American spiritual.  It tells the biblical story of Joshua’s entry into the Promised Land. 

According to Wikipedia, this song is thought to have been composed by early 19th-century slaves.  The word “fit” was a dialect-version of today’s word “fought.”  Although this spiritual ostensibly refers to Joshua's long-ago battle, it (like many other spirituals) has a double-entendre that refers to the slaves’ struggle for freedom in America.  Their fondest hope was for the walls of slavery “to come tumbling down,” and the use of spirituals such as these helped to set that course in motion.

Long before that - in 1790 - another oppressed group was also hoping to make America more of a Promised Land.  This was the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, otherwise known as the Hebrew
Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island.  This congregation (which has evolved into today's Touro Synagogue) extended a hearty welcome to then newly-elected President George Washington as he came through their city during a promotional tour.

What Washington was mainly promoting was the next phase of the overall American Revolution, i.e. the 1787 U. S. Constitution.  Moses (yes, that was his actual name) Seixas, warden of the Hebrew Congregation, saw this as a wonderful opportunity to promote enhanced rights for the Jews who lived under that Constitution.  In now-famous words (the first use of which is often mistakenly attributed to Washington), this Moses urged the president to uphold “a Government to which Bigotry gives no sanction…”

To further the Jericho analogy, Moses concluded his letter to Washington by petitioning God to send the “Angel who conducted our forefathers into the Promised Land” to assist Washington.  He then hoped that Washington, “when like Joshua full of days, and full of honour,” would be “admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life and the tree of immortality.”


Copyright February 21, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Honor thy parents: And thy opioids?

Met-Enkephalin Model (ElaineMeng)
Those who have righteously fulfilled the Fifth Commandment
from childhood on might wish to thank their God-given opioids. 

MSN Health reports that behavioral scientists at Duke University
are researching the possible link between the easygoing natures of
children who manage to get along well with “impaired” parents and the endogenous opioids that exist in their young bodies.  Some
offspring are said to possess a “resilience gene” (one type of mu-
opioid receptor) which makes them more sensitive to their own
opioids.  These youngsters might therefore be experiencing a
take-the-edge-off-the-situation biochemical assistance that
their feistier siblings aren’t.

This OPRM1 mu-opoid receptor gene has previously been studied in monkeys and mice.  According to, OPRM1 “encodes the mu opoid receptor.”  This receptor is not only the primary interaction site for exogenous opioids such as morphine and heroin, but is also the primary interaction site for endogenous opioids such as beta-endorphin and the enkephalins. 

Beta-endorphin, located in neurons of both the hypothalamus and the pituitary, is said to have more than 80 times the pain-killing effects of morphine.  It is also known to promote feelings of relaxation and well-being. reports that beta-endorphin can even boost the immune system and slow the growth of cancer cells.

Enkephalins are found in the brain thalamus, as well as in some parts of the spinal cord.  According to, enkephalins within the spinal cord “inhibit painful sensations by reacting with specific receptor sites on the sensory nerve endings.”

If some children are genetically receiving “hits” of beta-endorphin and enkephalins whenever the pain of impaired parenting rears its throbbing head, while others are left to ferret out some meager relief on their own, which group might find it inherently easier to follow the Fifth Commandment?

It doesn’t take a bunch of endorphin-drenched brain cells to figure that one out…


Copyright February 20, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

Friday, February 18, 2011

King Tut to Dad: My god is better than yours

Statue of Akhenaten (Photo by Gerard Ducher)
Monotheists the world over might be rejoicing at the recent return of Akhenaten’s (King Tut’s dad’s) statue to its most cherished space within the Egyptian Museum.  Some might even interpret the streetwise finding - then honest handling - of this rare archaeological treasure to be nothing short of miraculous.

King Tut himself might not have been so jubilant over this return.  That is because he spent most of his short reign making it his primary order of business to reverse Akhenaten’s so-called monotheistic revolution.

Akhenaten took on his very name from the ardent (and within his historical and cultural context, revolutionary) worship of a particular god, Aten.  Egyptians at that time had been polytheistic for centuries, worshipping such gods as Ra and Horus.  Aten’s full name, The Rahorus who rejoices in the horizon, in his/her Name of the Light which is seen in the sun disc, indicates a synthesis of Ra, Horus, plus masculine and feminine deities.  It is believed that Akhenaten was therefore creating a blended monotheistic religion (or, at the very least, a henotheistic religion that emphasized one god above all others).

All this did not sit very well with Akhenaten’s royal son, Tutankhamun (or at least with the priests who had lost much of their power during Akhenaten’s religious revolution, and now viewed the malleable nine-year-old Tut as a means of getting back what they had lost).   Therefore, by the third year of young King Tut’s reign, a counterrevolution was already in full swing.

Worship of Aten was quite suddenly replaced with worship of the ancient Amun-Ra god.  The priests of
Amun were now once again in power, and the capital was moved back to its former location at Thebes. 

It is often said that (henotheistic) monotheism was weakened at this point, but the type of focused worship
that was then afforded to Amun might indicate otherwise.  Perhaps both Pharoahs, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, each accomplished more of a political shift than a theological one.  If so, they may have been more alike than either would have ever cared to acknowledge.


Copyright February 19, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Mary Todd Lincoln: Also called Mother Mary

Mary Todd Lincoln
According to Dave Blanchette at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois – after the Lincolns had children, Abraham always referred to Mary as “Mother” (and she to him as “Mr. Lincoln”).

Mary Lincoln (as she primarily referred to herself) certainly did strongly identify with motherhood.  When her beloved son, William Wallace Lincoln (Willie), died at age 11 during the White House years, Mary plunged into the first of many incapacitating depressions.  This was only compounded by the previous death of her son, Eddie - and the subsequent deaths of her husband, and of her son, Tad.

To cope with these worst nightmares of a loving mother and wife, Mary turned to spiritualism.  She had most likely begun learning about it during the 1840s and 50s.  According to her biographer, Jean H. Baker, by 1862 Mary was able self-induce psychic trances and dreams.  She also called upon the help of mediums in order to contact Eddie, Willie, and Alex (her Confederate stepbrother who had been killed in the Civil War).

According to the Lehrman and Lincoln Institutes, séances were regularly conducted for Mary Lincoln by a young medium named Nettie Colburn.  (These institutes also report that Abraham Lincoln attended one such session in which Colburn conveyed messages concerning the Emancipation Proclamation.)  Baker reports that Mary felt particularly comfortable with the family-like atmosphere of these Colburn séances, during which participants would sit holding hands in an intimate circle.

Since spiritualism was (and often still is) considered heretical by members of mainstream religions, Mary had to face even more public ridicule than usual.  Members of the public had deemed her insane, due to her dramatic displays of grief and intense mood swings.  Baker reports that the language used to describe spiritualism in those days was not all that different from the language used to describe insanity.  Words such as “trance,” “delirium” and “hysteria” were often applied to both.

Some today think that Mary’s behavior was in keeping with a bipolar diagnosis.  Others see her as the wife and “Mother” who was never able to recover from all her profound losses.


Copyright February 18, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Muhammad's birthday: How should it be observed?

A Mawlid Procession in India
Right about now (the Gregorian date varies from year to year, and the lunar-calendar date varies amongst different Islamic groups) is the anniversary of Muhammad’s birth (Mawlid an-Nabi or The Birth of the Prophet).  Although many Muslims will honor this profound event with public celebrations, others decidedly will not.

Just as there are groups within Christianity (such as the Jehovah Witnesses and The United Church of God) who feel that Christmas traditions do not stem from the actual teachings of Jesus, there are groups within Islam who feel that Mawlid an-Nabi traditions do not stem from the true teachings of Muhammad. 

The Arabic word, Bid’ah, refers to innovations within Islam.  Innovations within worldly disciplines such as
the sciences are acceptable, and Islamic cultures have produced some of the world’s finest.  However,
innovations that are not in keeping with the basic principles of Islam are considered sinful.  Since Muhammad’s birthday was not celebrated until generations after his death, there are some Islamic scholars who have considered its celebration to be a sinful Bid’ah.  These scholars have included Muhammad Taqi Usmani from Pakistan and Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz from Saudi Arabia.

Wikipedia cites other Islamic scholars (such as American Imam Zaid Salim Shakir, Canadian-based Tahir-ul-Qadri, Egyptian theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Indian Grand Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan, and Brunei-based teacher Gibril Haddad) that have approved of Mawlid an-Nabi observances that are in keeping with Sharia (as derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah).  For example, fasting in honor of this birthday would be in keeping with Sharia – whereas indiscriminate “intermingling” would not.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RealUGuru Lew: Live from Roxbury NY

   Roxbury NY    (Photo by Doug Kerr)
Although Lewis Harrison is not a middle-of-the-road type of guy, he was standing on the double line of a mountainous Main Street when I first became aware of him.  With megaphone in hand, he was leading some kind of a homegrown revolution. 

Did I mention it was the 60s?

Forty years have passed, and Lewis has now exchanged his megaphone for a microphone.  He can still be heard conducting revolutions (and proclaiming You May Be Right)every Thursday evening from 6 to 7 PM at (Roxbury NY’s community public station internet stream).

Now you may not live in Roxbury (most people don’t), but Lewis’ universal style makes that almost besides the point.  He tackles everything (and everyone) from King David to The Beatles with philosophical aplomb.  So whether you’re tuning in from Israel or London, his show is bound to be relevant.

When it’s not 6 to 7 PM on a Thursday evening, Lewis is Lord of the Manor (with his lovely wife, Lady Lilia) at the former Uplands Mansion (now The Harrison Center) in Stamford NY.  At this unique Bed and Breakfast, a body can be nourished by the family-style breakfast, a mind can be nourished by the 2,000-book library, and a soul can be nourished by the theological discussions.

If that weren’t enough, RealUGuru Lewis is also an acclaimed author, life coach, polarity therapist, massage therapist, lecturer, workshop leader, and natural-foods expert.  According to his Wikibin biography:  He is best known as an interpreter of Taoist, Shamanistic, and Natural Healing philosophies for a multi-cultural audience.


Copyright February 16, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

John Gottman: Apocalyptic marriages

Painting by Victor Vasnetsov (1887)
During these perhaps-apocalyptic times, “divorce do us part” seems far more prevalent than “death do us part.”  Dr. John Gottman has spent the better part of the past 35 years researching specifics on why this is the case.

Gottman is currently Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Washington.  He is also the founder of the Relationship Research Institute (RRI) in Seattle.  According to RRI’s website, its mission is “to provide relevant, empirically validated support to improve the lives of couples, children, families and society.”  RRI has strong commitments to making research findings readily available to the public, and to utilizing research for the improvement of relevant social policies.

Because Dr. Gottman is well-known for having scientifically predicted (with up to 94% accuracy) which couples will divorce, people have been sitting up and taking notice.  Dr. Gottman, perhaps jokingly, attributes this attention-getting accuracy to his waning amount of dinner invitations.  People also zap to attention when he compares the most destructive of marital habits to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

These original Four Horsemen of Revelation 6:1-8 have been identified as Conquest (on white horse), War (on red horse), Famine (on black horse), and Death (on pale horse).  On a smaller (but perhaps equally destructive and colorful) scale, Gottman identifies the Four Marital Horsemen:  Criticism (“You’re so arrogant…”); Contempt (“You’re such a jerk…”); Defensiveness (“It’s all your fault…”); and Stonewalling  (“Oh, look at the time…”).

Just as prophecy is often more a dire warning than a done deal, so are Gottman’s predictions.  His goal is not to be the Grim Reaper of Divorce, but rather the Guardian Angel of Marriage.  To this effect, he’s urged numerous couples to “repent” by turning these Four Marital Horsemen back around in their tracks.  His numerous books, articles, workshops and speaking engagements are a testament to his evangelical ardor along these lines.


Copyright February 15, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 14, 2011

Clowning around: Why so fertile, Myrtle?

Clowns have been around for a long time.  According to an Israeli study, that could be why the world is so overpopulated.

This study, as reported in the Israel21c Newsletter, involved a group of 186 women who were undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.  Half experienced just the standard treatment and routine – while the other half experienced induced laughter due to the addition of  a 15-minute clown visit. 

Although clown therapy had already become quite popular since the Patch Adams movie of 1998, this was the first time that it had formally been tried in conjunction with IVF.  The original goal was to simply study the effects of clown therapy upon these women’s psychological states.  While this was being determined, a completely unexpected side effect emerged:  33 of the women who ‘clowned’ around became pregnant, compared to only 18 women in the control group.

This raises some interesting questions:  Are happier women more fertile?  Is increased fertility a sign of increased health?  How closely does laughter correlate with both happiness and health?  Does it also correlate with spirituality?

Native Americans have long incorporated clowns into their sacred traditions.  According to Peggy Andreas, these sacred clowns were as integral to everyday culture as the chiefs, shamans and dancers.  Called “crazy” (Heyoka) by the Lakota and Oglala, and “holy idiot” by the Arapaho – they were nevertheless revered.

Sacred clowns often “exposed hypocrisy and arrogance” via their “portrayals of ridiculous behavior.”  They were able to express things that others didn’t dare, and people loved them for bringing these innermost thoughts and feelings to light.  Perhaps this dynamic is somewhat akin to the enormous popularity (bordering on worship) of comedians like Howard Stern and George Carlin.  Many have claimed that this type of in-your-face clowning gets them through the day when nothing else can.


Copyright February 14, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved