You have the right to practice your own beliefs, so long as you harm no one. The Universal Life Church encourages you to realize your freedom by becoming an ordained minister, speaking your own truths about life. "We are All Children of the Same Universe"
India has a problem: extravagant weddings. Last November, for example, a wealthy family rented out a palace for the big day and invited over 50,000 people to attend. The total price tag? $75 million. Although most Indian weddings cost far less than that, over-the-top ceremonies are more than just the norm, they’re expected. This puts tremendous pressure on lower-class families to spend money they don’t have, leading many to take out huge loans to cover wedding expenses.
The issue seems to be a cultural one. Asked about overspending on weddings, one parent responded: "You only get married once. You have to make it count. It's a question of pride and self-respect."
A member of Parliament recently proposed legislation that would tax extravagant weddings and send the proceeds to poorer families to help pay for their own weddings. It was quickly pointed out, however, that his own wedding featured over 100,000 guests and that perhaps he should not be lecturing others on the issue.
Exciting news! Today, NASA announced the discovery of seven new planets. The alien worlds, which are about 40 light years away, are all roughly the size of Earth and orbit a dwarf star known as Trappist-1. Though not much bigger than Jupiter, Trappist-1 is now home to the largest known collection of Earth-sized planets in the galaxy. Even more exciting: according to scientists, at least three of the planets have the right conditions for liquid water – an early indication that they could support life.
This discovery also reinforces how little we actually know about our own galaxy. Evidence suggests that billions of Earth-like worlds may exist in the Milky Way, we just haven’t found them yet. As space technology continues to progress, it’s only a matter time until we locate more. The burning question remains the same, however. Will any of them support life?
On this President's Day, we are reminded of the time a monstrous wheel of cheese made its way into the White House, opening up conversations and stomachs. Hearing that President Andrew Jackson was a cheese-lover, a prominent dairy farmer crafted a block of cheddar weighing in at a whopping 1400 pounds and had it delivered to the White House in 1835.
The president did his best, but after two years he'd barely made a dent in the wheel. In 1837, Jackson finally threw in the towel: he held a public event and invited everyone in Washington D.C. to lunch. It was reported that the 10,000 hungry attendees took just two hours to finish off the cheese.
The event was famously chronicled on the popular TV show "The West Wing", where fictional President Bartlet used the anniversary to invite ordinary people to come in and chat with the administration. During his tenure, Pres. Obama made it a reality by hosting a "virtual" big block of cheese day – allowing people around the world to voice their questions.
In that spirit, on this President's Day we encourage you not only to reach out to your leaders with whatever questions or concerns you may have, but to keep yourself open to any new ideas you may encounter.
As a single mom, Whitney Kittrell’s heart sank when her son told her that his kindergarten class was having a “dads and doughnuts” event. With her son’s encouragement, however, she decided to make the most of the situation. Kittrell dressed up in her best “dad costume” and attended the school event.
"I made a promise with myself that I would do anything I could, even if it meant going out of my comfort zone, to give my kids a 'normal' life and the same experiences as other kids," Kittrell wrote in her (now viral) Facebook post. “I was so embarrassed but I couldn't help but smile when he introduced me to his little friends”.
Kittrell has since received an overwhelming show of support over social media for her bravery. Being a single parent offers unique challenges, and we admire Kittrell’s courage in facing them head-on. In doing so, she becomes a role-model for many others. What an incredible parent!
Thousands of years after going extinct, woolly mammoths will once again roam the earth – perhaps as soon as 2019. That’s according to a group of Harvard scientists who are working to bring the ice-age creatures back to life through a high-tech process known as gene editing. Using DNA gathered from a mammoth preserved in ice beneath the arctic tundra, the scientists plan to “edit” an elephant embryo to give it the traits of a woolly mammoth.
Although the resulting creature will really be more of a mammoth-elephant hybrid, the Harvard group is still excited about the possibility of reviving a long-lost species. Experts say that gene editing could also be used to diversify the genes of animals on the verge of extinction, allowing endangered species to thrive once more.
Some scientists have voiced criticism of the mammoth project; they argue the technology should be used to save animals that are still alive, rather than spending large amounts of time and money trying to bring extinct creatures back from the dead. Many laypeople argue that humans shouldn't be "playing god" like this at all. Nevertheless, the scientists persist. How do you feel about the iconic woolly mammoth returning to Earth?
Well, today is Valentine's Day. While many people are celebrating, perhaps many more are lamenting their situation. There is certainly a specific sort of "baggage" attached to the modern holiday, but it's shifted a lot over the years.
Indeed, Valentine's Day is said to have some basis in the ancient pagan festival known as Lupercalia, a multi-day celebration of fertility that dates back to Roman times. According to some accounts, Lupercalia involved a “love lottery”, where young men and women drew names from a jar and were paired up as lovers for the duration of the festival. Animals skins and whips were also involved - but we'll let you research that on your own.
Records indicate that Lupercalia was supplanted by Valentine's Day around 496 AD by the Church. So, who was Saint Valentine? History is not completely clear, but legend holds that he was a priest in the ancient Roman empire imprisoned for attempting to convert the Emperor. While in jail, he cured his executioner's daughter of her blindness. Just before he was taken out of the city and brutally beaten and beheaded, Valentine scribbled a sweet note to the daughter signed “Your Valentine”.
Arguably Valentine's Day was again supplanted in the modern era by another new holiday. Like so many other special days, Valentine’s Day has become highly commercialized over the years. Some people even insist that its traditions were (successfully) manufactured by Hallmark to sell more cards.
It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that if you aren't enjoying the company of a partner on this day that you're doing something wrong , but it's important to take note that - regardless of its specific origins - the whole thing is admittedly a bit ridiculous. So, don't fret if you can't celebrate your love today; it is just as valid for you to take the day to celebrate that your head is still attached to your body!
For years, the small Siberian village of Sosnovka has had no church. One of its residents, tired of having nowhere to worship, decided to do something about it. With limited resources, Alexander Batyokhtin used the only material he did have: snow. Over two months he built a church entirely out of snow – 424 cubic feet in total. Even as temperatures dropped to as low as -22 °F, he continued working, day after day, until the structure was complete.
Despite being temporary (it will melt come the Spring), a local official said the church “means a lot to our hearts and souls.” For now, the residents of Sosnovka will have a place to pray. It all goes to show that with a little bit of faith and a lot of hard work anyone can make good in the world.
The Russian Academy of Sciences has released a damning report calling homeopathy a “dangerous pseudoscience” that is "on par with magic." First developed in the late 1700s, the controversial treatment method is based on "like cures like": a belief that a substance known to have negative effects on healthy people can be used to treat sick people. Over time, homeopathy has become a popular method of alternative medicine throughout the Western world.
Some people swear by homeopathic remedies, insisting that they cure ailments more effectively than traditional medicine. Critics say such remedies have no scientific basis, are incredibly expensive, and can actually endanger people by convincing them to spurn proven treatment methods. Dubious remedies include treating hay fever with onion, or arthritis with poison ivy. Some homeopathic products, like the cold remedy Zicam, are even marketed as though they are approved medical treatments.
What do you think? Is homeopathy a scam or is the criticism unwarranted?
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