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

Monday, August 31, 2015

If the sun suddenly went poof!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mayim Bialik: Faith in Hollywood not 'trendy'

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

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

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

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

Nothing too flashy about that.


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

John Rhys-Davis: Thou shalt sometimes judge

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hit the road, Mach

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

'Doctor' Dre attempts to heal

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Can't snow this pregnant meteorologist

Woman at WIC   (USDA photo)
As TV meteorologist Katie Feglinger’s body swelled with love for her unborn twins, viewers began sending nasty messages about her pregnant look.  

Rather than shame or intimidate her, such hate mail ignited Feglinger’s sense of advocacy.  US Magazine reports that she “then felt a need to draw a line and speak up.”

Acknowledging that people have a right to their opinions, Feglinger nevertheless sensed that motherhood itself was being attacked.  She therefore penned a Facebook “manifesto” in support of all current and future mothers.

Excerpts from her writings include the following:  I will gladly gain 50 pounds & suffer sleepless, uncomfortable nights if it means upping my chances to deliver 2 healthy baby girls.

Feglinger then reminded critics that they, too, were brought into this world via the swollen bodies of pregnant women. 


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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Celine Dion: Keeping priorities straight

Dion in 2012    (Photo by Georges Biard)
Although Celine Dion will soon be returning to Caesars Palace after a year’s leave, her priorities are still right in order.

During her hiatus from performing, Dion has been caring for husband Rene Angelil.  USA Today reports that Angelil, 73, has been battling throat cancer. 

This caregiving experience has been intensely emotional for all concerned.  Nevertheless, Dion states, “But Rene really gave me a gift.”

Together they have grieved, and together they have taught one another to face whatever life has to offer.  Now Angelil insists that his wife “return to what she loves.”

To their credit, Angelil’s doctors don’t profess to know how much longer he’ll live.  While being fed intravenously for the past two years, he continues to bravely battle on.

Dion concludes, “…my biggest job is to tell my husband we’re fine.  I’ll take care of our kids.  You’ll watch us from another spot.”


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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Living EnChroma

Joshua Tree Sunset     (Photo by Jessie Eastland)
When the sun sets each evening, do you drink in the colors with delight?  Or are you just too weary with the workaday world to even notice?

When Aaron Williams-Mele recently received a pair of EnChroma glasses for his birthday, he couldn’t help but notice.  Suddenly, his world went from shades of gray to living color. explains that EnChroma lenses for the colorblind “use filters to kind of clean up the signals that go to the cone cells in your eyes that absorb red and green.”

A YouTube video captured Williams-Mele’s expression as he viewed a Norfolk, Virginia sunset in all its colorful glory for the first time.  “Needless to say, it was a pretty emotional experience,” he later wrote.

It is said that if sunset only presented itself once in a person’s lifetime, it would be an unforgettable event.  With mindfulness, each and every sunset could be viewed with great appreciation.  Certainly, that seems worth the meditative effort.


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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jimmy Carter's 'new adventure'

Carter in 2014      (Photo by Mark Turner)
There aren’t that many who would describe metastatic melanoma as “a new adventure,” but then again, there aren’t that many as steadfast as Jimmy Carter.

After learning that the melanoma from his liver had spread to his brain, Carter not only displayed remarkable honesty, but also incredible equanimity.

The former president recently explained, “I do have deep religious faith, which I’m very grateful for, and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t go into an attitude of despair or anger or anything like that.  I was just completely at ease.” states that Carter is “perhaps the most Evangelical president in U. S. history.”  A self-described Born Again Christian, Carter has not only written inspirational books, but has also long taught Sunday School.

His is no lukewarm faith.  Formerly a Southern Baptist, Carter publicly stood up to the leaders of that denomination when he felt that they were “making judgments on behalf of God.” 


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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tiger Woods: Greatness is forever

Woods at 'We Are One' in 2009   (Public Domain)
Groupies tend to go by the rule, “You’re only as good as your latest mistake.”

Champs, on the other hand, often believe this:  Greatness is forever.  They don’t give up during a bleak run of events.  They simply try harder.

Now Tiger Woods is far from perfect.  That is the human condition.  Nevertheless, in both golf and relationships, he keeps trying.

The world is suddenly on Woods’ side again because he “done good” at Day 1 Wyndham. If he flubs up next time around, folks will be back to saying that he’s washed up and boring.

What’s actually boring is the predictability of such feedback.  Humans might wish to look beyond the surface ripples and peer into the depths. They might then more easily conclude:  Greatness is forever.

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Storks: Folklore and facts

Storks   (Painting by Jozef Chelmonski)
Reuters recently reported that storks at the Bronx Zoo became surrogate parents.

An association between storks and parenthood has long been emphasized.  Amelia Glynn explains that “in many cultures, storks represent fertility, springtime and good luck.”

In ancient Rome, a stork nest on the roof meant that Venus was pledging her eternal love to those residents.  It has also been viewed as a good omen for homes in the Netherlands.

Adult storks tend to be really good parents to their young.  Glynn writes that they “continue to feed and care for their offspring long after they can fly.”

Parenting associations work both ways when it comes to stork folklore.  Because the ancient Greeks believed that young storks care for their parents, they named an elder-care law pelargonia, after the Greek word pelargos (meaning “stork”).


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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Body dysmorphia: Playing a role

Cyrus in 2009   (Public Domain)
Playing a role might play a huge role in the development of body dysmorphia.

According to Inquisitr, Miley Cyrus recently admitted to “body issues” while portraying Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel.

That role entailed the wearing of a wig, “a ton of makeup,” and “some glittery tight thing.”  Even that wasn’t enough of a sham.  The filmed results were then digitally enhanced.

Under these circumstances, Cyrus began to feel a loathing for her natural body.  While viewing retouched, “perfect”
images of Hannah Montana, she would agonize, “Why don’t I look like that?”

The majority of young teens aren’t Disney stars, but they are nevertheless often playing one role or another (hipster, girlfriend, etc.).  These teens also see airbrushed photos of glamorous models and wish to be plastic-perfect.

The more fortunate young ladies will eventually learn that the human body, whatever its size or shape, is a miraculous gift to be cherished.  However, this lesson is difficult to learn while being bombarded with commercial messages that claim otherwise.


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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Alexander Hamilton: Friend to the Jews

Alexander Hamilton  (by William J. Weaver)
No longer simply relegated to a spot on the $10 bill, Alexander Hamilton is currently everywhere that hipsters wish to be.

Due to the success of hip-hop “Hamilton,” people are now curious about his life.  Wikipedia reports that he was born out-of-wedlock to a mother who was “most likely Jewish.”  He had also received tutoring and classes at a private school “led by a Jewish headmistress.”

All this likely fostered an ongoing “respect for Jews.”  As a youth, Hamilton could even recite all Ten Commandments in their original Hebrew.  He believed that the Jews were blessed by Divine Providence, and warned “that those who discredit the Jews ‘destroy the Christian religion.’”

Although a devout Presbyterian in his youth, Hamilton leaned more and more toward Deism as the years went by. Patheos explains that he had helped George Washington to draft these words into Washington’s Farewell Address:  …reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is important to note that this was a generic reference to “religion,” as opposed to a focus upon Christianity only.    


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

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

'Cool' Christianity: A fickle fad?

Hillsong Convention Center    (Public Domain)
Churches such as Hillsong are said to have put the “hip” into “discipleship”and the “cool” into Christianity.

Some do this with a combination of “PR-friendly” jargon and crowd-pleasing messages.  Avoidance of controversial or unpleasant topics (such as gay marriage or hellfire and brimstone) is another popular strategy.

Brett McCracken, author of  Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool
Collide, wonders whether orthodox theology and hipster cool can fruitfully coexist.  He cites places that haven’t endured (such as Rob Bell’s and Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Churches), and some that are still going strong (within the international Hillsong movement).

In a recent Washington Post commentary, McCracken concludes with this incisive query:  Shouldn’t church be a sanctuary that offers far more than what is “on the pages of Vogue or the streets of Brooklyn”?


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

Monday, August 17, 2015

LeBron James: Giving back

University of Akron Campus    (Public Domain)
LeBron James knows only too well what it means to grow up under tough circumstances.

Having hoisted himself out of that quicksand from which many don’t return, James is now more than ready to pay it forward. reports that James recently “announced a partnership between his foundation, the University of Akron and JPMorgan Chase.” 

This partnership will provide “four-year academic scholarships to Akron” for Akron Public Schools graduates with excellent grades, attendance and community-service records.

Thus far, there are 1,100 kids in the program.  James stated, “If I can put 1,100 kids into college for free then that means I’ve done something great to give back.”


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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tiger Woods: Stick-to-it-iveness, and then some

Woods in 2001   (Public Domain)
Some folks give up at the first signs of trouble or loss.  Gotta hand it to Tiger Woods, he’s just not one of those giver-uppers.

Associated Press reports that even though Woods has had a dismal 2015 season, he is still planning to have a go at the Wyndham Championship.  Against great odds, he is hoping to “squeak into the FedEx Cup playoffs.”

Woods recently explained:  I look at the fact that it’s just another opportunity to get better and try and take myself to the next level and whatever that it, it is.

Looking at life in that manner seems like a win-win, no matter what the score.


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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Name that world: Divine appellations

Marble Bust of Epicurus   (PD)
The ancients had their priorities straight.  While naming distant worlds after gods, they would presumably gaze toward the heavens and think lofty thoughts.

Not so anymore.

Divine appellations such as Mercury (take a message), Venus (love rules), Mars (seeing red), Jupiter (King Jove), Saturn/Pluto (lord of where the sun never shines), and Neptune (oceans away!) are now being supplemented with proposed titles such as Carl, Dot, Neil, Tortoise, Carousel and Starry Bunnies.

All is not lost, however.  Mike Wall of Space also lists these suggested names for exoplanets: Apollonis (an amusing Muse), Chrysaor (Pegasus’ baby brother), and Epicurus (at least philosophical).


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

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tebow: Autographing the Bible

Bible from 1150 AD    (Public Domain)
It seems as though Tim Tebow never tires of publicly proclaiming his faith.

On the one hand, the Bible encourages public proclamations.     As part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), Jesus states. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” 

However, this Commission includes a very sacred activity:  baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Recently, Tim Tebow autographed a fan’s Holy Bible.  Was this done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Or did it simply focus upon Tebow's own "John Hancock"?

It is one thing to make disciples of God, and quite another to lure "moths" to the fame flame.  That is probably why Jesus recommends in Matthew 6:5-6 that you not pray “like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray… on the street corners [and on the football fields?] so that they may be seen by men…” 


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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

ISS: Let us eat lettuce

Heart of the Matter     (Photo by Liam Kaplan)
Munching down on some fresh-grown lettuce doesn’t usually seem like that big of a deal.

Munching down on some fresh-grown lettuce while hurtling through space might be a whole different matter.  International Space Station astronauts were recently the first to enjoy such an otherworldly experience.

Dante D’Orazio of Verge tells us that “red romaine lettuce” was the first space-grown plant to be eaten by humans.  Plants have been grown in an ISS greenhouse for years, but none of these “science experiments” have been eaten before.

RResearchers had to first check into whether any contaminants had infiltrated these ISS-grown plants.  NASA has now determined that such vegetables are fit for human consumption.

The ISS lettuce was grown from “pre-made seed ‘pillows,’” along with “red and blue LEDs” as a light source.  The salad-ready romaine was planted on July 8th and “harvested 33 days later after consistent watering.”


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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

G. I. Dean: Circle complete

(Photo by Evan-Amos)
What goes around, comes around.  This ancient truth can be either apparent or subtle.  In G. I. Dean Prough’s case, it is mighty apparent.

Prough, now 94, was part of the “5th Armored Division that had landed at Utah Beach weeks after D-Day, fought through France, liberated Luxembourg and pushed into Germany within 45 miles of Berlin.”

While rolling through a small German town with his convoy, Prough noticed a pigtailed young girl running alongside.  She was begging for food.

Prough gave this German girl not one, but three, candy bars.  He then took a photo with her and signed it “Dean Prough, Ottumwa, Iowa.” 

She told him that her name was Maria.  Prough even tried to adopt her, but the Army would not permit this.

Not too long ago, Prough received a phone call from Maria’s daughter.  She told him that Maria had been living in America for years, and wanted to meet with her “guardian angel” one last time.

USA Today reports, “They met in Texas, where both have children living.”  Prough then gave her “a dozen red roses and a Hershey bar,” saying:  I think this is where we left off.


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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Food on fire: Steamrolling tactics

Steamrolling...    (Photo by BulldozerD11)    
Most of the time, food burns because some cook forgot to lower the flame.

In Russia these days, another reason is becoming all too common.  USA Today reports that Vladimir Putin has ordered the destruction of all banned food products from the United States and Europe.

Food from these places has been banned in retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia.  “Contraband” meats, milk products and fruits that have managed to slip through are now being deliberately burned and steamrolled.

Many are aghast at the prospect of destroying food which the world literally hungers for. World War II veterans who recall the blockade of Leningrad, “when hundreds of thousands of people died of hunger,” are calling this tactic a “mockery.”

Protesters are instead calling for the donation of such food to the needy.  Residents in border towns have meanwhile been trying to salvage whatever they can.


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


Monday, August 10, 2015

Kathie Lee Gifford: Faith journey

(Photo by Greg Hernandez)
In response to “gridiron great” Frank Gifford’s death, wife Kathie Lee and family remain “steadfast in our faith.”

Kathie Lee’s recent tweet also makes reference to Phillippians 4:13, which states:  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (KJV)  She furthermore finds comfort “in knowing where Frank is.” explains that Kathie Lee, born Kathryn Lee Epstein, “grew up in a culturally Jewish environment” and had one Jewish grandparent.

When she was 12, Kathie Lee watched a Christian film, The Restless Ones, which made a deep impact upon her.  She then “became a born-again Christian.”

After meeting Anita Bryant five years later, Kathie Lee was introduced to the world of Christian entertainment.  She afterwards began professionally singing with Oral Roberts’ World Action Singers.

Kathie Lee, however, became disillusioned with both Bryant and Roberts.  After a six-year marriage to Christian music publisher Paul Johnson, Kathie Lee began forging a more personal spiritual path.

Her faith has seen her through many a crisis, and has apparently been a major part of her overall journey.


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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ramadan: 'Midnight Sun' fasting

Midnight Sun in Kiruna     (Photo by Helleborus)
It’s tough enough fasting from sunup to sundown, but what if sundown barely arrives?

Now that many Muslims have migrated to “Lands of the Midnight Sun,” it’s becoming
harder and harder to make it through the long sunlit Ramadan days.

In St. Petersburg, for example, daylight can       last as long as 21 hours.  In Stockholm, the sun sometimes sets at 1 a.m. and rises at 3:30 a.m.

Andrew Martin of The Washington Post reports that Muslim scholars differ in their
rulings about how Ramadan fasting should occur in such regions.

Some “adhere to the sunrise and sunset hours of nearby, more southern cities.”  Others “prefer to keep to the long hours of their locale.”

Fasting under those latter conditions can be quite strenuous.  One adherent, from Kiruna in Sweden “where the sun never sets,” stated:  I looked at the clock many times. 


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

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sister Megan Rice: Sounds of silence and speech

Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant     (Public Domain)
Sister Megan Rice knows whereof she speaks, and whereof she has been silent.

In an article for The Times Union, she writes that her silence concerning nuclear arms lasted for many years.  While growing up next door to a member of the Manhattan Project, Rice had experienced the secrecy shrouding this endeavor firsthand.

Shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Rice’s Uncle Walter arrived there. As a 1st lieutenant in the Marines, he too remained silent about the atrocities he had witnessed.

Back around 1980, Rice began voicing her opposition to such destruction.  She subsequently participated in non-violent protests in New York City, Nevada and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

At age 82, her Oak Ridge involvement (splashing “blood on a uranium facility” there) yielded her two years in prison.  Nevertheless, she is still speaking out.

Rice can be heard at the upcoming 17th Annual Kateri Peace Conference at Fonda, New York on Friday and Saturday, August 14th and 15th


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