Religious pareidolia quiz

Religious pareidolia: the perception of religious-icon-shaped patterns where none were intended. Over the years, everyone from the Virgin Mary to Mother Teresa have been spotted in impromptu appearances on food items, freeway underpasses and almost anywhere you can imagine, often drawing thousands -- and sometimes hundreds of thousands -- of faithful pilgrims. So here's the challenge: which of the following examples of religious pareidolia were actually reported (and in many cases, celebrated) and which are made up?

A. The Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Ten years ago, a Florida woman was having her lunch when she suddenly discovered the image of Mary staring back at her, emblazoned on the grilled bread of her cheese sandwich. She wrapped the iconic sandwich in cellophane and cotton, and since then it has shown no signs of mold or crumbling, which the woman describes as "yet another miracle."

B. The Virgin Mary Piece of Firewood
About to ignite the wood in her fireplace, a Wisconsin woman (named ... wait for it ... Faith) realized that one of the logs had the Virgin's image on it. Naturally, she pulled it out of the hearth.

C. The Jesus Tortilla
A New Mexican woman found the image made with skillet burns on a tortilla she had prepared. She built a shrine to house the tortilla, which was visited by thousands of pilgrims after a priest reluctantly blessed it.

D. The Virgin Mary Panel of Wood
Diners at a California Souplantation restaurant noticed a strange pattern in the wood paneling above one of the booths: that of the Virgin Mary.

E. The Mother Teresa Cinnamon Bun, AKA "The NunBun"
A Tennessee coffeeshop turned a funny-shaped bun into an overnight sensation and a cottage industry, selling "NunBun" teeshirts, coffee mugs and other paraphernalia -- until a peeved Mother Teresa asked them to cease and desist.

F. Mary and the Chocolate Factory
Workers at a California chocolate factory were stunned to discover that a two-inch column of chocolate drippings which had accumulated under a leaky vat seemed to resemble the mother of God.

G. Mary Holding the Baby Jesus Pretzel
Need we explain further?

H. Jesus Pierogi
Not unlike the Jesus tortilla, but instead of building a shrine to the pierogi, its owners tossed it in the freezer and then tried to sell it on eBay.

I. Jesus Shrimp Tail
A California man believed he saw Jesus Christ's face on a shrimp tail. He said that when he ate his first shrimp, he had disregarded its tail, but then looked at it again and saw the face of Jesus. The man believed it was a sign, as he was going through a nasty divorce.

Answers after the jump!

A: True.
B: True.
C: True.
D: True.
E: True.
F: True.
G: True.
H: True.
I: True.

Yes, they're all true. And we've got the pictures to prove it:

mary chocolate.jpg
pierogi.jpgshrimp tail.jpg

Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels

If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

15 Dad Facts for Father's Day

Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"


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