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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Earl Lloyd: Long before Jordan

Lloyd at the White House  (Public Domain)
Long before there was a Michael Jordan, there was an Earl Lloyd.  In fact, it was Earl Lloyd who helped to make Michael
Jordan’s reign possible.

Unfortunately, NBA history is not all that well-known.  Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports points out that Lloyd was “the first
black man to ever play in an NBA game.”  Compare his fame to Jackie Robinson’s, and a disparity becomes quite evident.

Breaking the NBA color barrier was a traumatic undertaking. When Lloyd began training camp in 1950, “it was the first time he had ever interacted with whites.”

The racism that Lloyd, along with Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Chuck Cooper, endured was grueling.  Regularly being insulted with the “N” word, they were often prohibited from sharing the same restaurants and hotels as teammates.  People even taunted them “by asking if they had tails.”

Lloyd later stated:  You have to manage your anger.  You could quit.  But you can never quit.

And he never did. 

This great pioneer, who recently passed away at age 86, has a well-earned place “in both African-American and NBA history.”


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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Robot dogs: 21st-century 'idols'

'Big Dog'   (DARPA photo)
What's right up (down?) there with worshipping a golden calf?  Answer:  Attributing a soul to a robotic dog.

The 21st-century version of idolatry is well on its way to being widely adopted.  The term “adopted” fits well here, as these robot dogs are often considered to be bona fide family members.

AFP reports that AIBOs, SONY-developed robot dogs, possess an artificial intelligence that enables them to display “personality” traits.  They are equipped with “an array of
sensors, a camera and a microphone.”  Some can even “talk.”

They seem to have all of the lovable traits that flesh is heir to, yet none of the more troublesome aspects.  For example, these
dogs don’t, er, relieve themselves on the carpet.  They raise their legs and make cute little tinkling sounds, but there’s nothing to clean up afterwards.

If owners wish to take dog-less vacations, that’s not a problem either.  They simply disable robotic “Fido” for the time being, then reactivate the hound upon return.

How idyllic!  However, there is a bit of sorrow within this simulated Heaven.  If SONY closes AIBO shop, as it recently did, then even the cutest AIBO in the world is subject to “death” by disintegration.

The all-too-human response has been to call in some Buddhist priests to pray for these dear, departed, robotic “souls.”    


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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kanye West: Humbled at last

Le Louvre   (Photo by Gloumouth1) 
He who has proclaimed “I Am a God” on an album called “Yeezus” is not particularly known for his humility.

Nevertheless, Kanye West admitted to experiencing a twinge of modesty at the recent BET Honors.  As he took the stage to accept a Visionary Award, West stated:  For the first time in my life, I understand what it’s like to feel humbled.

As the spirit overtook him, West went on to wax philosophically about the nature of racism and slavery.  He told the somewhat captive audience that “on the micro” there seem to be different races, “as opposed to the macro which is the human race.”

Perhaps his wisest sentiment of the glitzy evening was something to this effect:  Just because we’ve made it big time doesn’t mean we aren’t slaves.

“Au contraire,” continued he who hangs out at Le Louvre in Paris:  We’re slaves to the idea of being cool.


Copyright February 26, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hawking weighs in on human nature

(Public Domain)
While graciously escorting contest-winner Adaeze Uyanwah around the Science Museum of London, Stephen Hawking weighed in on the best and worst of human nature.

When Uyanwah asked him “what human shortcomings he would alter, and which virtues he would enhance if this was possible,” Hawking warned against aggression and lobbied
for empathy.

According to Cambridge News, Hawking believes that human aggression “threatens to destroy us all.”  Whereas such behavior might have been integral to survival during “caveman days,” its current risks far outweigh its benefits.

Not convinced that human empathy will prevail in time to save this planet, Hawking is advocating for the colonization of outer space.  He views such pioneering as “life insurance” for the human race.

Hawking has repeatedly stated:  I believe that the long term future of the human race must be space…


Copyright February 25, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Self-mummification: Meditate vs. medicate

Mummified Monk  (Photo by Per Meistrup)
In today’s medically-oriented societies, death is often approached with fear and resistance.  In order to quell these existential anxieties, drugs such as morphine are administered.

Some centuries ago, highly advanced practitioners meditated rather than medicated.  Live Science reports that “aging Buddhist monks would slowly starve themselves to eliminate decay-producing fat and liquid, while subsisting mainly on pine needles and resin to facilitate the mummification process.”

They would then “be buried alive with just a breathing tube to keep them holding on so they could meditate until death.”  Although some may argue that this is outright suicide, is it qualitatively that much different from, say, certain types of end-stage care?  If these aging monks chose to die a conscious dignified death (as opposed to a stupefied one) is that morally wrong?

Of course, there may very well be other viable alternatives.  Rather than embarking upon a self-mummification process, couldn’t a dying person simply focus upon meditation while lying in bed   and awaiting a more natural cessation of breathing?

After all, these mortal coils will be shuffled off one way or another.  Is it not ultimately the soul’s journey that takes precedence after bodily death?

Copyright February 24, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 23, 2015

Epigenetics: As the DNA turns

Core Histone   (Image by Emw) 
In a delightful article titled “DNA on the Couch,” psychiatrist Deborah L. Cabaniss explains why “psychology is… our biology.”

She begins by describing how DNA “folds around” histones (cellular proteins) in a manner similar to that of thread wrapping around a spool.  In this way, six feet of tightly- coiled DNA can become compact enough to fit inside of a microscopic cell.

However, these folds tend to either expose or envelop certain genes (“sections of the DNA that determine the make-up of… the building blocks of everything in our body”).  When a gene is “open,” it can produce proteins, and when “covered” it cannot.  Therefore, the way the DNA is wrapped “around histones effectively dictates which genes… are turned ‘on.’”  These types of on-and-off aspects are known as “epigenetic changes.”

What’s really fascinating is that scientists have now discovered “that the genetic code can be modified after birth.”  In other words, histones can become “chemically modified” by lifestyle factors.  For example, parenting styles have been found to “cause profound epigenetic changes.”  Nurturing styles result in one set of genes being “turned on,” and neglectful styles produce quite 
another pattern.

These epigenetic patterns can persist well into adulthood if not intervened with.  It is encouraging to note that later-in-life nurturing can reverse the effects of early epigenetic changes. Having nurturing relationships during adulthood can thus offset some of the previous “damage.”


Copyright February 23, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Panspermia: Seeds of life everywhere

Anaxagoras Fresco  (Public Domain)
If the theory of panspermia weren’t complex enough, there are also the subheadings of lithopanspermia (“interstellar panspermia”), ballistic panspermia (“interplanetary panspermia”) and directed panspermia (intentional panspermia) to contend with.

From the Greek, the term "panspermia" can be literally translated as “seeds everywhere.”  Seeds of what?  Seeds of life.

According to Panspermia Theory, “’seeds’ of life exist all over the Universe and can be propagated through space from one
location to another.”  The rudiments of this theory were first proposed by the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, circa 500 BC.

Anaxagoras stated:  All things have existed from the beginning. But originally they existed in infinitesimally small fragments of themselves… There were the seeds (spermata)… but these parts, of like nature with their wholes, had to be eliminated from the complex mass before they could receive a definite name and character.   

Millenia later, Francis Crick (of DNA fame) proposed a “theory of directed panspermia.”  Because he “found it impossible that the complexity of DNA could have evolved naturally,” Crick believed that “small grains of DNA” could have intentionally been “loaded on a brace of rockets and fired randomly in all directions.”

Could some of this DNA have landed on Earth?  Crick seemed to think so.


Copyright February 22, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 21, 2015

KKK: Not all that sweet

KKK Members, 1928  (Library of Congress)
Stop any ten people in the United States and ask them what KKK means:  Chances are most will answer, “Ku Klux Klan.”

It seems that the “UK branch of Krispy Kreme” wasn’t thinking along those lines when it named a promotional campaign “Krispy Kreme Klub Wednesdays.”

After advertising these so-called “KKK Wednesdays” on Facebook, “the Hull branch of the doughnut chain” received   a lot of agitated feedback.

The Guardian reports that the Facebook page was then removed, and the company issued this statement:  Krispy Kreme apologizes unreservedly for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores.

All well and good, since the Ku Klux Klan has historically attacked “black Americans… Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and… Catholics.”


Copyright February 21, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bobby Jindal's exercise in exorcism

Governor Jindal  (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
Louisiana governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, who converted to Roman Catholicism after growing up within a Hindu family, has made no secret of the fact that he once took part in an exorcism.

According to New York Times blogger Charles Blow, the exorcism was for a college friend of Jindal’s named Susan.  Susan was a “charismatic Christian” who had been recently diagnosed with cancer at the time.

Jindal's own account of this exorcism can be found in an article he wrote for the New Oxford Review titled “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare.”  

Jindal describes these “physical dimensions” rather vividly in passages such as this:  Suddenly, Susan emitted some strange guttural sounds and fell to the floor…  Susan’s sister… ordered us to gather round and place our hands on Susan’s prostrate body.

Some of Jindal's friends were commanding Satan to “leave this woman.”  Jindal self-reportedly began to “feel as if something was pushing down on my chest.”

The exorcism apparently went well since “Susan wound up claiming, “Jesus is Lord.”  She then seemed not to remember anything that had occurred during the actual ritual.

Jindal is currently contemplating a presidential run, and some are wondering whether this exercise    in exorcism might deter voters.  Others feel that it might instead be a plus because “nearly 70 percent of Americans believe [per 2008 Pew Forum survey results] that ‘Angels and demons are active in the


Copyright February 20, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mars 100: Home is where you hang your helmet

Home Sweet Home   (NASA Photo)
It takes a certain amount of philosophical thinking to willingly leave Earth forever.

Those who are wondering why on (or off) Earth anyone would opt to do that might want to glance in the mirror.  One way or another, we are all destined to shed this earthly existence.

Michael Walsh of Yahoo News recently reported on the 100 would-be Martians who made the final Mars One cut.  Walsh explained that Mars One is a Dutch nonprofit that “plans to send a small group of humans to the red planet to establish permanent human life there.”

These top-100 applicants (out of an original 202,586) were asked why they “would want to abandon everything they know to live (and die) on the fourth planet from the sun.”

Middle-aged Kay Radzik Warren pointed out that “she would just die here on Earth” anyway.  She compared missing Earth to missing “a lot of the things I would never go back to from my past.” Nevertheless, she did admit that “it’s not an easy decision…”

Fifty-year-old Peter Felgentreff agreed, “Everybody misses everything at some level,” yet emphasized the importance of moving forward no matter what.  He compared blasting off to Mars to a move he had once made from Connecticut to California, and then concluded:  Home is where you hang your hat, or in this case your helmet.


Copyright February 19, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke    All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hello Barbie, Goodbye Privacy

'Spy Central'        (Photo by Jelson25)
In addition to all her other assets (?), it seems that Barbie is now a spy.

This might seem commendable if she were spying on a threatening entity, but she is instead spying on trusting children.

These are children who have bared their souls to a doll that, up until recently, has never breathed a word. Although Barbie still doesn’t breathe (thank the Lord for favors such as this), she can now “talk.”

Lauren Walker of Newsweek reports that Barbie has received a “digital makeover.”  In other words, she can now “have two-way conversations, play interactive games, tell stories and joke around.”

However, it’s no joke that when a child speaks to Barbie, “his or her words are sent to Toy Talk’s secure server.”  These captured confidences are then analyzed by corporate staffers, who utilize the ill-gained information to amass a “cloud-based database” of the child’s disclosures.

Although Toy Talk (Mattel's partner in this endeavor) alleges that parents have some control over these interactions, “Barbie’s ability to connect online has raised serious questions about the child’s

Repeat:  Serious questions…


Copyright February 18, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Map quest: Where's Israel?

(Image by Ling.Nut)
They say that seeing is believing - but for some diehard believers, not seeing is better yet.

Because some customers in the Persian Gulf are hostile toward Israel, famed British publisher Harper Collins simply omitted the Jewish nation from many a map.  

How's this working out?

Newsmax reports that although Harper Collins tried defending its actions by stating that “local preferences” had to be considered, public outcry has deemed otherwise.

After a Catholic international publication called The Tablet first broke this news, the opposition was intense.  Harper Collins therefore decided to remove “the [said] atlas from all territories.”

Here's an example of an Amazon reviewer’s comment about the atlas (which is still being sold         by third parties):  I find it absolutely ridiculous that the publishers at Harper Collins would intentionally leave an entire nation off of their atlas in order to appease the backward views of    their customer base.  This is not education, this is furtherance of generations of intolerance and hate…


Copyright February 17, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 16, 2015

Normalizing anything: 50 Shades of Conformity

Adam and Eve   (Public Domain)
When Hollywood sets out to make a killing (either at the box office or within people’s psyches), there are certain tricks of the trade that are bound to win.

As New York Times writers Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply point out, moviegoers recently “turned out en masse to see the sadomasochistic love story ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’”  This   was pronounced a mighty win for Universal Pictures, as it yielded approximately $90.7 million during the first four days of widespread release.

This also says far more about manipulating the public   mindset than it does about film artistry.  Universal’s chairwoman, Donna Langley, is apparently a master at predicting herd-stampeding patterns.

Langley started her campaign by aggressively wooing author E L James on board.  Universal marketers then began casting their spell with these three provocative words:  Are you curious?

Although the allegedly-sophisticated target audience had sometimes “found Ms. James’s prose more laughable than titillating,” they nevertheless bought into this Universal bait (forgetting that such curiosity may have killed the cat, along with many catty individuals).

The clincher was a Valentine’s Day slam dunk. To destigmatize the film’s content, it was cleverly linked to hearts, flowers, and even saints.  The film’s advertising kicked off on Saint Valentine’s  Day 2014, culminating in a heavily-promoted grand opening one lovey-dovey year later.

So here we are, lining up knee- (or whatever-) deep to eat of that forbidden apple.  This didn’t work  so well for Adam and Eve, and it might not work so well for us either.


Copyright February 16, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Stay or stray? Fingering the suspects

Look here...   (Photo by Michiel1972)
If Men’s Health is any indication, then the answer to whether you (and/or your mate) will stay or stray can be easily pointed out.

Specific instructions for determining how things will all turn out include the following:  Take a look at your right hand.  Is your ring finger longer than your index finger?

It is?  Then you might be in for a good time, a divorce, or both.  New research from the U. K. suggests that “you may be more likely to seek out lots of sex partners.”

Now if your index finger is the longer one, then the opposite may be true.  Assuming your longevity genes are in order, a 75th wedding anniversary may be in the cards.

How can finger-pointing of this kind hold any scientific validity?  The U. K. research suggests that   “a longer ring finger is a sign you were exposed to lots of testosterone in your mother’s womb." According to some theories, higher levels of testosterone lead to higher levels of promiscuity.   


Copyright February 15, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Music: Seductive soundtrack

Elvis in 1957  (MGM, Public Domain)
Many a teenager has strummed a guitar or rattled a drum with the hopes of luring romantic partners onto the scene.

Japanese researchers may have recently discovered some reasons why musical entertainers are considered to be so sexy.

Medical Daily reports on a study which “examines whether background music gives young Japanese adults a more favorable impression of conversation partners of the opposite sex for the first meeting.”

Study results indicate that “background music enhanced their sense of intimacy and attraction.”  Therefore, music may very well serve as a seductive soundtrack in listener's lives.

It may be quite instructive to note whether your own emotions are being stimulated by people themselves, or perhaps instead by their musical accoutrements.

One need only to attend a rock concert to observe the full power of this pulsing melodic “drug.”  There’s a reason why Elvis is still being called “King,” and it has far less to do with politics than with lust.


Copyright February 14, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 13, 2015

So much for favoritism

(Photo by Agencia Brasil)
“Mother always loved you best!”  Siblings have felt this way about one another for eons.  And in some all-too-human cases,
it certainly seems to be true…

Nevertheless, Pope Francis would beg to differ.  At a recent gathering in St. Peter’s Square, he fondly “recalled a childhood
memory, when his mother was asked which of her five children was her favourite.”

The Guardian reports that the answer was a wise one.  Francis’ mother would compare her five children to her five fingers.  She would say:  If they beat one of my fingers, all five hurt.

All five are interconnected, yet unique.  All five were fashioned by God, each to serve an important purpose. 

Francis’ mother would also say:  All of my children are mine, but each one is different.

One grew up to be Pope Francis.  The others, no doubt, are equally loved by God.


Copyright February 13, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is the Big Bang a Big Bust?

Big Bang Depiction  (by Yinweichen)
Many a religious doctrine states that there is an eternal core reality.

This has sometimes seemed at odds with the Big Bang theory, which states that the universe began circa 13.8 billion years ago.

Aja Romano of The Daily Dot explains that theorists from Egypt and Canada have now proposed a “new” model in which “the universe has been around since, well, forever.”

In a paper titled “Cosmology from quantum potential,” these researchers utilize “a corrected equation to fit Einstein’s theory of general relativity.”  The corrections do away with the Big Bang dilemma of explaining exactly what happened “the moment the singularity actually, er, happened.”

Then what about the alleged expansion of the universe?  The revised equation takes that into account also.  The new model “proposes that the universe is filled with quantum fluid, perhaps made up of theoretical massless particles called gravitons, which are thought to help mediate the effect of gravity.”  This quantum fluid might “exert a slight but constant force on objects to cause the expansion of space.”


Copyright February 12, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

McDonald's: Oh, dem golden arches

(Photo by Sam Smith)
Is there something oh-so-inspiring about the sight of those golden arches stretching across the landscape from sea to shining sea?

In other words, has McDonald’s become the modern-day Church of America?  Ian Crouch of the New Yorker seems to think so.

In discussing McDonald’s “new minute-long commercial,” Crouch points out that it evokes “uplifting pathos” via a combination of patriotic and religious imagery.

On the patriotic side, the commercial includes blatant references to September 11th and veterans.  On the religious side, such signposted messages as “God gave us a Miracle”  and “Pray for the Rescue of the Miners” couldn’t be more churchlike.

These images are accompanied by an angelic-sounding rendition of the 2012 hit song “Carry On.”  Some of the lyrics (“If you’re lost and alone, and you’re sinking like a stone, carry on…”) could easily blend into in any hymnal.

However, if America is to truly carry on some its best religious traditions, the corporate hijacking of tragic and sacred events would somehow need to be atoned for.


Copyright February 11, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

God to Katy Perry: 'I got you'

Super Bowl Trophy (by BrokenSphere)
What with each team in the Super Bowl praying for a win, it’s a wonder that God found any time at all to worry about the half-time performance.

Nevertheless, Katy Perry claims that she and God had a little “chat” right before showtime, and this is what He told her: You got this and I got you.

Fox News reports that Perry prepared for this super opportunity with “a lot of prayer and meditation.”

God must have meant what He said because “a random guy… with a headset” then looked at Perry “straight in the eyes”        and reiterated:  You got this.  Perry took that to be a divine
confirmation of her ability to “do this.”

On the day of her Super Bowl performance, Perry had also tweeted these words from Psalm 118:  Today is the day that the Lord has made!  I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Perry has made no secret of her Christian roots.  This is far from the first time that she has “spoken out… about her faith.”


Copyright February 10, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 9, 2015

Poet and President: A night to remember

(Photo by Paparazzo Presents)
When President Jimmy Carter took the stage at the recent MusiCares event, he honored Bob Dylan for “a lifetime dedication to human rights.”

Carter also stated that Dylan’s lyrics are “more precise… and permanent than anything said by a president of the United States.”

According to Billboard, Dylan then gave "one of the greatest acceptance speeches in the 25 years of the event.”

His words were filled with gratitude for mentors and supporters, yet included a bit of the sting for critics that Dylan is famous for.

Dylan admitted, “Right from the start, my songs were divisive.”  In answer to critics, he offered this quote from Sam Cooke:  Voices are not to be measured by how pretty they are.  They’re to be measured by whether they’re telling the truth.

Which is a good rule of thumb for life in general, especially when attempting to knock on heaven’s door…


Copyright February 9, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dumpster dwelling: Small but cozy

Dumpster Art  (Photo by Paxson Woelber)
Why bother with the usual three-bedroom, two-bathroom home when dumpsters await behind practically every mall?

Inquisitr reports that Dr. Jeff Wilson, aka “Professor Dumpster,” has just spent the better (worse?) part of a year living in a dumpster.  With just occasional forays to his girlfriend’s and daughter’s homes, Wilson mostly made do with only 36-square-feet of domestic bliss.

Within this 36-square-feet, Wilson managed to pack in such luxuries as an air conditioner, an electric heater, and a storage compartment beneath a “false floor.”  His one complaint?  The WiFi signal was rather weak.

Wilson’s goal was to teach students how little one really needs to possess in order to live the good life.  He called this stint in the dumpster a lesson in sustainability.

For his next “act,” Wilson will be on the move to “99 different homes in Austin [Texas].”  Some of these homes will be simple, some fancy.  The point of this “new project, called 99 Nights ATX,” will be to explore “the contemporary notion of house and home… in conventional and unconventional spaces.” 


Copyright February 8, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Prayer Breakfast: Obama's points

Mr. Gilmore  (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
After listening to President Obama's talk at the recent National Prayer Breakfast, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R) had this to say:  “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States.  This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”

Well, “Mr.” Gilmore, perhaps it is your brand of thinking that has gotten America into trouble time and time again. Presuming
to speak for ALL believing Christians, and then broadening that to assume that ALL Americans share the exact same values, seems to be the height of arrogance.

It is this type of all-or-nothing logic that creates violent extremism within any creed.  What Obama pointed out is that Christians have historically not been exempt from violent
thinking any more or less than other religionists have.  After all, wasn’t it Jesus who recommended getting the log out of your own eye before plucking the speck out of your brother’s?

Pointing out the sins (past or present) of one’s own land and tradition is as ancient and honored a practice as prophecy itself.  Reread the Bible, and see for yourself how “gently” Jeremiah addressed his fellow citizens.

The Washington Post reports that Obama also “emphasized the need to respect minorities… saying it was part of the obligation Americans face as members of a diverse and open society.”

Perhaps Mr. Gilmore took a bathroom break during that part of Obama's speech.

Copyright February 7, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 6, 2015

Gwen Stefani: Marital miracle

Rossdale on Lead in 2011  (Photo by IToo Good)
It's tough enough for one rocker to remain married for any length of time.  But when two rockers are married to one another for 12 years – well then, that’s what Gwen
Stefani is calling a “miracle.”

Fox News reports that Stefani and her husband, Gavin Rossdale, have not only been married for that length of time, but have also been juggling the needs of three children, work time, “family time and ‘me’ time.”

Stefani disclosed some of the things that have made it successful.  She raved about how “hot” her husband is, then stated:  It’s not the most important thing about him, but it is nice – and he makes really cute babies! 

Rossdale also sends Stefani little love letters.  Stefani said, “[Gavin’s] on a short tour right now, and he wrote me the sweetest note this morning.”

While Rossdale’s away, Stefani enjoys some “me” time.  She explains that it’s especially difficult for women to find time for themselves, and that maintaining individuality within “coupledom” is a marital challenge well worth pursuing.


Copyright February 6, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Snout in the snow: One lucky moose

True Love!  (U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Because Alaska has had an unseasonably warm winter this year, avalanches are a distinct possibility

This danger was on the minds of three snowmobilers who were recently out riding “about 55 miles northeast of Anchorage.” 
Sure enough, they came upon an avalanche in a place where ski tracks and moose tracks had been just an hour before.

Wondering whether a skier might be trapped beneath the snow, the snowmobilers scanned the area.  The Associated Press reported that one of the men spotted “something brown moving in the hard-packed snow of the debris

Thinking that this might be a skier’s arm, the snowmobilers rushed to help.  Two began digging, while the third kept a lookout for other signs of danger.

Pretty soon, ears and a snout began surfacing.  Since skiers have ears but no snouts, it soon became apparent that the trapped “skier” was indeed a moose.

This story has a happy ending.  The moose was freed, and without so much as a “Thank you!” romped off into the wilderness.

Ojibwe and Cree stories also tell us that “moose are symbols of endurance and survival.”  How lovely that this particular animal became part of that legacy (with a little, make that a lot, of help from some friendly humans).


Copyright February 5, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Beethoven's Fifth: Genius or arrhythmia?

Ludwig van Beethoven  (1820 Portrait)
Here's a theory to ponder:  As Beethoven went deaf, perhaps the beating of his own heart became more and more perceptible. 

Here a question to ponder:  Could the unique movements of Beethoven’s heart (some say he suffered from cardiac arrhythmia) have therefore unduly influenced his greatest compositions?

Health Day News reports that “cardiac arrhythmia causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.”  Sound familiar?  Da, da, da, daaaaaaaaaaaa!

Dr. Joel Howell of the University of Michigan Medical School believes that “the synergy between our minds and our bodies shapes how we experience the world.”  Artists and composers may be especially in tune with their “innermost experiences.”

Dr. Zachary Goldberger of the University of Washington School of Medicine intimated that some of Beethoven’s works may be viewed as “musical electrocardiograms.”


Copyright February 4, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What's new in Iceland? Neo-Paganism

Odin riding Sleipnir  (Public Domain)
It’s been a millennium since the last temple was erected to Norse gods Thor, Odin and Frigg, but that hasn’t squelched the excitement of Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson and his followers.

Hilmarsson, whom Reuters describes as a “high priest of ‘Asatruarfelagid’, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods,” has put a modern spin on centuries-old Viking creeds. 

Rather than literally believing in “a one-eyed man who is     riding about on a horse with eight feet,” Hilmarsson views these Norse stories as metaphorical representations of “the forces of nature and human psychology.”

The new temple will be a place where Neo-Pagans can honor and connect with these forces.  This circular domed structure will be nestled into a hillside near Reykjavik. Its dome will allow for sunlight to “paint the space” within.

Ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, initiations and ‘Blot’ (minus the animal sacrifices, but including the merriment) will be held there.


Copyright February 3, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wallaby wannabe free

Wally, is that you? (Photo by Glen Fergus)
A Christian writer who goes by the pen name of “Aunt Carolyn” created a tale called “Wally the Wallaby.”

As Wally the Wallaby was lounging in the Australian outback one night, a python suddenly attacked.  A nearby Bushman
happened to hear Wally’s desperate cries.

Wally would have been lost forever were it not for the compassionate (at least from Wally's perspective)     Bushman’s intervention.  A shot was fired, and the python was killed.     Its deadly grip on Wally was loosened, and one very relieved wallaby was now free to lead the good life.

Freedom, it seems, is as important to wallabies as it is to us.  Why just the other day, a wallaby that was earmarked for a petting zoo decided otherwise.  Reuters reports that about 45 miles north of Seattle, this courageous wallaby suddenly “bounded away from its crate… streaked across a highway and down toward a river…”

Hopefully, there are no pythons (coyotes or dogs or bears, oh my) down there.  But if there are, may this wallaby also be saved…
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Copyright February 2, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Packing on those Pastoral Pounds

(Public Domain)
Health Day News recently reported that “more than one-third of clergy in the United States are obese.”

Researchers linked this weight gain to the stressful lifestyle that goes along with being a clergy member.  Ministry is a calling that often entails long hours, low pay and emotional intensity.

As researcher Todd Ferguson described it: The role or identity of a pastor is something you can’t just shut off.

Nevertheless, even God rested on the seventh day.  Those clergy members who regularly take days off are far less prone to obesity than those who don’t.

Clergy members can also reduce stress by joining a “small, intensive, introspective group of other pastors.”  Support groups of this type can help clergy “cope and lower their chances of obesity.”


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