Religious Beliefs and Extraterrestrials

January 26, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

A simple question has accompanied the heightened interest in the possibility of life on other planets. Would the discovery of extraterrestrial life fundamentally challenge established religions and their theological foundations? In other words, would the existence outer space aliens trash the earth’s beliefs? All this speculation may seem far-fetched, but over one-third of American adults believe ... Read More


365 Challenge: Lessons Learned and What Comes Next

January 01, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

It’s going to take a while to review a year’s worth of blogposts, but it’s already pretty clear that several themes deserve more exploration. For 2017, I’m continuing the blog, though changing the pace. I’d like to go deeper into topics that deserve further study. So I’ll post twice a week this year. My deadlines will shift to Wednesday and Sunday.   I’ll still be focused on spiritual phenomena - ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial / Religious

Celebrating the Details - 365th Blogpost!

December 31, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

When I took up the 365 Challenge, I began with few expectations. My goal was simply to take in what was around me. In the course of the year, that simple goal has been more than achieved. The need to meet a daily deadline has forced me to engage more fully in the wonderment around me. I’m more aware of the remarkably creative ways people of all faiths, and of no faith, find amazing ways to ... Read More


Gallup Poll Shows Faith Over Affiliation

December 29, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In 2016, this blog followed several significant polls tracking Americans and religion. Though if there’s one thing we’ve learned this year it is to be skeptical of polls! But precise data counts aren’t the reason to follow religious polls. The US Census doesn’t track anything having to do with religion, so there is not a lot of data available. The importance of these religious polls is their ... Read More


Neighborhood Nativities - Variations on a Scene

December 25, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I noted the origin of the Nativity scene can be traced directly to St. Francis of Assisi. From the first live reenactment the tradition quickly moved to stage sets in churches. Soon, people placed scenes inside their own homes. The image of the Holy Family has become integral to the Christmas celebration, especially in Italy and Germany, where many Yuletide traditions in ... Read More

Sacred Symbols / Religious

Nativity Scene Instigated by St. Francis

December 24, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In a previous post, I described the Advent Calendar as a relatively new tradition. The tradition of the Christmas nativity scene, however, also known as a crèche, or presepio, was instigated by an event in Italy nearly 800 years ago. We know the date and location because it is recorded in the well-documented life of St. Francis of Assisi.   The annual Christmas scene is an elaborate stage-set at ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Religious

Advent Calendar - From Germany with Love

December 22, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

This year we didn’t have an advent calendar in our home. With grown children, and now grandchildren, the idea of opening little doors each day of December isn’t nearly so magical as it once was. Not that I’ve become a scrooge in my fifth decade, but the level of excitement of the Advent Calendar seems to be proportional to the number of youngsters in the house.   by Lumentzaspi - wikimedia ... Read More


Ole Gospel Tabernacle Church Keeps it Country in Tallahassee

December 17, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

An old country church in Tallahassee has really gone country! The Ole Gospel Tabernacle Church presents a folky appearance on Geddie Road as drivers approach the US 90 intersection. The original sanctuary probably dates from the 1920’s or 1930’s based on its wood frame structure and large double-hung windows. The modest foyer addition in front was most likely added in the 60’s or 70’s. But the ... Read More

Worship Space / Religious

If Neanderthals Had Religion Did They Also Build Temples?

December 11, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

I was intrigued this summer to learn of a 175,000 year-old site deep in a cave in France that shows evidence of building by Neanderthals. Once considered primitive pre-humans, recent discoveries show Neanderthals, extinct for 40,000 years, were relatively sophisticated contemporaries of early homo sapiens. Now there’s serious discourse about the possibility Neanderthals had religion. If they did, ... Read More

Holy Place / Religious

Rally at Mosque Demonstrates Support

December 05, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

It’s distressing these days that bad news, even fake news get spread all over, while really good news seems to gets lost or sinks below waves of acrimony and vitriol. This weekend, however, a truly heartening event bobbed up high enough to get noticed. The Houston Press ran a feature about a crowd gathered outside a mosque in Houston to demonstrate their support!  The group of several dozen ... Read More

Holy Place / Sacred Architecture / Religious