Reminder: Contribute to STERA Before Year’s End

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

imageBarrie Schwortz posted the following reminder on STERA’s Facebook page last evening:

The STERA, Inc. Board of Directors held their final meeting of the year today and asked me to remind you that there is still time to make a tax deductible contribution before the end of the year and claim it as a deduction on your 2014 taxes. Just visit the Secure Contribution Form at https://www.shroud.com/steraform.htm to donate. Your help is truly needed and deeply appreciated!

Barrie points out that your credit card information (Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover) will be sent using 256 bit encryption algorithms.

Looking at the form, I notice that you can use your Paypal account. If you prefer, you can mail a check. You can even telephone your credit card information to 719-689-2217.

Categories: News & Views Tags:

A Miracle Debate

December 22, 2014 2 comments

They recognized that a universe in which miracles are possible
is a world in which science, strictly understood, is impossible.

You may wish to read Why I believe in miracles by Matt K. Lewis (pictured second) in The Week for December 9th, and the reaction a week later by Damon Linker (pictured first), The age of miracles is over — even for the religious.

Linker writes:

imageMiracles have traditionally been understood as temporary transgressions by God of the natural order. You know, like Moses parting the Red Sea, or a virgin giving birth to a child, or the resurrection of a man three days after his death. All three events and many others recounted in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament are inexplicable in natural terms. They are divine incursions into the order of things, a suspension of the necessities that govern that order — like the necessity that tells us, for example, that only a female who has been impregnated by the sperm of a male of the same species can give birth to offspring. That necessity reigns supreme, without exception, in nature. But Christians believe — or are supposed to believe — that God overrode that necessity in impregnating Mary, a woman who had never had sexual relations with her husband Joseph or any other man.

imageLewis, like many contemporary believers, uses the term "miracle" to mean something very different and far less, well, miraculous. Instead of referring to a divine intervention that overturns natural necessity, Lewis maintains that a miracle is any event within the world that appears to have personally beneficial consequences. As something taking place within the natural world, the event will always be explicable in scientific terms. But the believer is also free to interpret the event otherwise — as having been mysteriously authored or brought about by the hidden hand of God. That is the kind of miracle that Lewis believes in.

Linker argues:

The great early modern defenders of science (men like Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, and David Hume) understood that the belief in miracles was an obstacle to the advance of human knowledge, keeping alive the possibility that the findings of scientific investigation are at most provisionally true — true only so long as God doesn’t act within the world in a way that contravenes natural necessity. That’s why these and other partisans of the Enlightenment actively sought to explain (or rather, to explain away) miracles and undermine popular belief in them. They recognized that a universe in which miracles are possible is a world in which science, strictly understood, is impossible.

Centuries later, the philosophical critique of miracles has been so successful that many of the faithful are more comfortable affirming the truth of soft providentialism, which is perfectly compatible with science because it makes no empirically verifiable (or refutable) truth-claims about the world at all. It’s even compatible with Darwinian evolution, which posits the radically non-theistic view that species evolve through a process of random mutation and adaptation, since it’s always possible that God plays a crucial and hidden (but scientifically undemonstrable) role in the process. Perhaps God causes evolution’s seemingly random mutations, or controls the environment to which these mutated organisms adapt themselves.

The good news for religion is that it has survived the philosophical-scientific assault on miracles. But the bad news for religion is that it now lingers on in a profoundly weakened state. Where faith once confidently ventured truth-claims about the whole of creation and its metaphysical underpinnings, now it often offers mere expressions of subjective feeling about a world that science exclusively reveals and explains. That represents a remarkable retreat.

Oh? Really? I find that we have proponents of both views in the world of the shroud and, interestingly, they are not self-segregated into pro- or not-pro- authenticity stances.

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic Tags:

An Online Photo Gallery of Italy’s New Churches

December 22, 2014 1 comment

The picture on CNN’s website this morning catches our attention. Here we find writer Helena Cavendish de Moura asking:

(CNN) — What is beauty? What role does it have in spirituality? Is it in the eye of the beholder?

image

For instance:

Vatican officials have lashed out against what they see as a diversion from dictates on how to build a church according to Catholic liturgy.

These laws, however, have been subject to interpretation.

The Diocese of Turin, for instance, defends its decision to stand by Botta’s design, claiming it adheres to Catholic dogma on aesthetics. The seven-tower church with skylights is a symbolic play on the use of natural light in ritual and divinity. The industrial-looking church complex blends in with the area associated with Turin’s working class. To the common eye, these towers may seem more like giant chimneys, a reference to the industrial, working-class area.

Photographing inside this monumental building is a different story. Liturgical tradition is referenced, but only slightly. Di Martino photographs the pixelated image of the Holy Face, a "half-cross" by the altar, every element illuminated by natural light. A possible allusion that God is omnipresent in the digital age?

Personally, I liked them all except for photograph number 6, the Church St. Clement in Milan. See CNN’s Photo Gallery.

Oh, and I’m not sure I like this interpretation (picture #1) of the face of the shroud which has Jesus seemingly looking away to one side. Or is it my imagination. 

A Quote for this Sunday

December 21, 2014 2 comments

imageFor “scientific approach to the Shroud” is usually understood that according to which the Shroud is regarded solely as an object of study and for which the only important issue is to try to answer the questions about the origin and the authenticity of the Shroud. A “pastoral approach to the Shroud” means the reading of the Shroud in the light of its intrinsic message that, starting from its close and indisputable relationship with the Holy Scriptures, becomes a valuable and unique inspirer of the life of faith and the prompter of those works of charity which are its real big fruit. In this regard at the end of his aforementioned speech in front of the Shroud on May 24, 1998 Saint John Paul II said: “May the Spirit of God, who dwells in our hearts, instill in every one the desire and generosity necessary for accepting the Shroud’s message and for making it the decisive inspiration of our lives”.

Therefore to put in antithesis the scientific approach to the religious one is very dangerous because you run the risk on one hand to reduce the Shroud to a “dead object”, to an image that has meaning only in itself and that doesn’t at all challenge our lives and on the other to turn the Shroud into a kind of idol slaved to a priori and instrumental theses. I am deeply convinced that to leave the presentation of the Shroud to a sole scientific approach or to a sole pastoral approach is neither correct nor useful for any kind of recipient. But then are these two ways of approaching the image of the Shroud really antithetic?

– Bruno Barberis
Associate Professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Turin &
Director of the International Center of Sindonology of Turin
from “Shroud, Science And Faith: Dialogue Or Conflict?
a paper he recently presented at the St. Louis Shroud Conference

Shroud Exposition YouTube Channel

December 21, 2014 1 comment
Categories: 2015, Video Tags:

"What If?" Clips

December 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Giorgio Bracaglia over at the Holy Shroud Guild wants your help

December 20, 2014 14 comments

imageGiorgio is promoting the survey on the Holy Shroud Guild’s Facebook page. An email to participants reads:

I am a student at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, New York. I am currently collecting data for my research project entitled The reader’s cognitive response towards peer-reviewed manuscripts,to fulfill my degree program requirement in Organizational Management.  The purpose of my study is to explore the reader’s cognitive response to two manuscripts that were problematic.

I would like you to participate in this study by completing an on-line survey by January 4, 2015.  The questionnaire will take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.  Your participation is voluntary but very important to the success of this study. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with this assignment, please feel free to discontinue.

The responses you provide are anonymous and STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.  The results of this study will be reported in the form of statistical summaries that do not identify any individual.  You must be over 18 years of age to participate. If you have any questions regarding the questionnaire, please contact me at giorgioprimary@frontiernet.net

Thank you for taking the time to assist in this important project.  I look forward to receiving your completed questionnaire.

CLICK HERE to begin the process.  Read the short (one page) essay on Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Then take the survey. After submitting your results you will be taken to another short essay and another short survey form. (There is a Shroud of Turin connection, as you will see).

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