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Rest in Peace Ian Barbour

January 3, 2014 13 comments

Karl Giberson, Ph.D, Professor, Stonehill College writes of his friend in the Huffington Post. Ian Barbour died on Christmas Eve:

imageBarbour [pictured] entered this conversation [of science and religion] as a lone, although uniquely qualified, voice in the 1950s. The conversation he started established to the satisfaction of most scholars in the field that White’s simplistic warfare metaphor was bogus, which was no mean accomplishment. Barbour had a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, earned under the great Enrico Fermi. He also did graduate work in theology and ethics at Yale Divinity School. He taught both religion and physics at Carleton College in Minnesota over the course of a long career that produced over a dozen major books and countless articles.

Barbour’s CV is extraordinary. His 1966 classic Issues in Science & Religion, which I read as an undergraduate, created the vocabulary and categories for the science-and-religion dialogue. He gave two sets of Gifford lectures, published under the titles "Religion in an Age of Science" and "Ethics in an Age of Technology." His modest volume When Science Meets Religion, published in 2000, is a classic text in the field, summarizing a lifetime of hard thinking about important questions. I have used it many times in my classes. Barbour’s books have been used in over 7,500 science-and-religion courses around the world, and countless courses in other fields. I first read Barbour in my undergraduate epistemology class, when we were assigned his book Myths, Models, and Paradigms. His deep understanding of both science and theology allowed him to find parallels in the ways that systems of thought were constructed.

imageIn 1999 Barbour was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which was long overdue. He donated much of the seven-figure award to the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, CA, where it supports the study of science and religion by a new generation of young scholars.

Barbour was a delightful, effervescent personality, perpetually scurrying from one engagement to the next as if to remind us all that there was important work to be done. I last saw him a decade ago in Nassau, where we were "swimming with dolphins" after a major science-and-religion meeting. He was 80 years old and still looking for adventure.

Few scholars have shaped their field like Ian Barbour. Nothing, in fact, indicates a serious engagement with science and religion like familiarity with Barbour’s ubiquitous scheme of making connections between the two fields.

Wikipedia on Ian Barbour

Religion and Science (Gifford Lectures Series)

How the Shroud Becomes Part of the Conversation

December 19, 2013 4 comments

imageSteven Skiena  and Charles Ward have figured it out and report the results Who’s Bigger?: Where Historical Figures Really Rank.

Here is what the publisher, Cambridge University Press, wants us to read to entice us to buy the book. Any big names missing?

Is Hitler bigger than Napoleon? Washington bigger than Lincoln? Picasso bigger than Einstein? Quantitative analysts are rapidly finding homes in social and cultural domains, from finance to politics. What about history? In this fascinating book, Steve Skiena and Charles Ward bring quantitative analysis to bear on ranking and comparing historical reputations. They evaluate each person by aggregating the traces of millions of opinions, just as Google ranks webpages. The book includes a technical discussion for readers interested in the details of the methods, but no mathematical or computational background is necessary to understand the rankings or conclusions. Did you know: – Got a spare billion dollars, and want to be remembered forever? Your best investment is to get a university named after you. – Women remain significantly underrepresented in the historical record compared to men and have long required substantially greater achievement levels to get equally noted for posterity. – The long-term prominence of Elvis Presley rivals that of the most famous classical composers. Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news! Along the way, the authors present the rankings of more than one thousand of history’s most significant people in science, politics, entertainment, and all areas of human endeavor. Anyone interested in history or biography can see where their favorite figures place in the grand scheme of things. While revisiting old historical friends and making new ones, you will come to understand the forces that shape historical recognition in a whole new light.

imageMyra Adams read the book (or at least looked between the covers). She spills the beans for us over at BizPak Review. Here is the top ten list. As Myra puts it:

To measure, meme strength and historical reputations, Skiena and Ward devised an internet-based ranking system and here is their top ten:

1. Jesus
2. Napoleon
3. William Shakespeare
4. Mohammad
5. Abraham Lincoln
6. George Washington
7. Adolf Hitler
8. Aristotle
9. Alexander the Great
10. Thomas Jefferson

Myra Adams takes it one step further:

Being a “fan” of “the most significant person ever” I am in total agreement with Jesus topping the chart. In fact, back in July of 2012, I authored a piece that fully supports Skiena and Ward’s research, but the context was the Shroud of Turin — what millions of others and I believe is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus:

But regardless of whether you believe Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected, it cannot be disputed that he was then and still is today the most influential being who has ever existed in all human history.

Jesus Christ’s influence on the world in terms of culture, history, kingdoms, religion, empires, war, art, music, architecture, printing, human relations, charity, literature, exploration, population relocation, medicine, education, holidays, etc., cannot be refuted.

In other words, if you live on this planet, Jesus has had an effect on your life whether you care to acknowledge Him or not. (An excellent book on this subject, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, was written by Dr. D. James Kennedy in 1994.)

Conversely, if Jesus had not been resurrected, the world’s largest religion, Christianity, would not have grown and thrived for centuries and Jesus’ influence on mankind would have been minimal or non-existent.

So that is why the mysterious Shroud, which could prove Christ’s physical resurrection — the foundation of Christianity, is still an open and active cause célèbre among believers in Jesus’ divinity and members of the scientific community who continue to study the Shroud and remain intrigued by its unique properties.

The shroud is more and more becoming part of the conversation. That’s good.

Hat tip to Joe Marino

Please Only Discuss Michael Jude’s Book and Claims Here

December 13, 2013 19 comments

i’m asking, for now, that comments about Michael Jude’s book and
his claims of special knowledge be confined to this posting

imageMichael Jude, by way of an off-topic comment introduced me to his book. Earlier this week I took the comment he submitted and turned it into a posting: Reader Recommends His Own Book. No one added any comments although over a thousand people read the posting.

Michael has now dropped a comment in a thread about updates to the Holy Shroud Guild. It was, as Paulette noted, to say in Michael’s own words regarding the shroud, “I claim to understand the mechanism involved and all of its ramifications and all that it entails.”

Is Michael going to tell us? Must we buy the book? Of course, one volunteer could read the book and tell the rest of us. But then first things first; is the answer even in the book?

I have now received an email from Michael. It reads:

I wrote a book that explains the origins of the human physical body as an 
emanation of its elemental spiritual source thus providing a proper conduit for 
array of transcendent abilities such as consciousness, sight and memory to the 
degree that they enable one to acquire, at times, a sense of an accompanying 
power beyond one's own physical being

I wrote a book that contains, complements and answers verbatim parts of dialogue 
interviews and narration from various television shows documentaries and even 
one major motion picture whose individual and combined meanings suggest a new 
understanding of certain aspects of the fundamental nature of reality in 
conjunction with the human religious experience. Unto itself this is no more 
meaningful than a grocery or laundry list until one considers the fact that none 
of these events appeared until January 2007 while the book was written in 1990.

I wrote a book that serendipitously explains how the image on the Shroud Of 
Turin was created. I was able to do this by acquiring a body of knowledge the 
nature and measure of which that by time I wrote about it having heard of it a 
relatively short time before it now became a mere footnote the logical 
conclusion in a divine syllogism similar to Einstein’s proposed theory of 
everything not only in brevity but in utilizing the same exacting elemental 
components that would also comprise the theory itself. This body of knowledge 
explained those things one would first need to understand before understanding 
how the image was formed such as the elemental relationship between those parts 
of Jesus' body that were affected by the crucifixion and the reason for the act 
itself as well as an understanding of the element of light that far transcends 
its usual role as an illuminating agent. To varying degrees and effects, the 
inspired writings of the book also reference and draw certain parallels to 
Jesus, Muhammad, St. Thomas and Judas Iscariot.

I wrote a book, I have good reason to believe, that identifies and explains the 
many  effects of the substance that must be changed before the second coming of 
Christ or an event of similar magnitude without religious affiliation while in 
its current state.

The title of the book is Thirteenth Apostle: The Coming Transubstantiation
Its website is shownamystery.com. Some parts of it need to be written in a more 
"relaxed" style. In whatever capacity you function.... literary agent, news 
media or academia I heartily encourage any questions, comments, concerns or 
interests.

I wrote a book and it wrote me

I’m asking, for now, that comments about Michael Jude’s book and his claims of special knowledge be confined to this posting.

Categories: Books

Reader Recommends His Own Book

December 10, 2013 1 comment

Author Michael Jude writes by way of an off-topic comment:

imageIn 1990 I wrote a book that serendipitously explains how the image on the Shroud of Turin was created. I was able to do this by acquiring a body of knowledge, the nature and measure of which, that by time I wrote about the Shroud, having heard of it just a few days before, it now became a mere footnote, the logical conclusion in a ‘divine’ syllogism. This body of knowledge explains those things one would first need to have an understanding of before understanding how the image was created such as the elemental relationship between those parts of Jesus’ body that were affected by the crucifixion and the traditional reason for the act itself along with an understanding of the element of light that far transcends its usual role as an illuminating agent. In reality, even if the Shroud were proven to be fake, even if it or Jesus himself ever existed, the dynamics for such a phenomenon to occur are not only a functioning, literal, material part of our everyday lives but provide the source and mechanics for any act of good to occur thereby embracing the word ‘religion’ in its original, textbook definition

I don’t like to recommend buying books by email. I have left that part of the comment off. If you are interested in the book, you will find it as an out-of-print entry at Amazon. From there you might check out Alibris or your local library book exchange. Or email me for the address.

Categories: Books

Picture of the Day: Unraveling Unusual Stitches (Continued)

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

click here or on picture for a larger version

Most interesting pages from Flury-Lemberg’s " The Linen cloth of the Turin Shroud: some observations of its technical aspects". Helpful for the posting,  Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud.

Hat tip to Thibault Heimburger

click here or on picture for a larger version

Categories: Books, History, News & Views

Another New Book with a Chapter About the Shroud of Turin

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

imageRuss Breault (Shroud Encounter) writes:

Mega-church pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, TN, Ron Phillips has recently published a book called, " Unexplained Mysteries of Heaven and Earth".  Chapter 15 is "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin" and spans 13 pages.  I heard from a friend that he had preached a message that was positive towards the Shroud.  Saw his book at Walmart today and had to buy it.  No review–haven’t read it yet.

Amazon Links:

 

Categories: Books

New Book Recommendation on STERA’s Facebook Page

November 30, 2013 Leave a comment

This was just posted:

As the Christmas holiday approaches, I wanted to recommend a great book that would make a wonderful gift for those on your shopping list. "Witnesses to Mystery" is a beautiful, English language hard bound book filled with beautiful color photographs and detailed information on many important relics. The entire first chapter is dedicated to the Shroud of Turin.

imageWitnesses to Mystery: Investigations Into Christ’s Relics Hardcover

www.amazon.com

In this lavishly illustrated large coffee-table volume, writer Gorny and photographer Rosikon embarked on a two year investigative journey to seek the truth behind all the relics associated with the passion of Christ. The authors investigated a rich body of documentary evidence found in various museums, archives and churches surrounding sacred objects believed to have been preserved since Jesus’ lifetime, exploring and collaborating with historians and scientists in their attempt to verify the relics’ authenticity. They reach their conclusions not so much on the basis of faith as on the evidence supplied by historical sources and expert scientific opinion.

The relics associated with the Passion – the suffering, death and burial of Christ – have long proved something of an enigma for the scientific community. Relics investigated, and photographed, for this glorious volume include: the Cross, nails, crown of thorns, pillar of scourging, Christ’s tunic, the Veil of Manoppello, the Sudarium of Oviedo, the famous Shroud of Turin burial cloth and more.

For more information see these recent posting:

Categories: Books, Other Blogs

Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud

November 28, 2013 18 comments

it would seem that the stitch on the Shroud is the basic standard one
which one would use then and now to join two pieces of cloth.

imageCharles Freeman, by way of a (44th) comment to The Shroud is 8 x 2 Assyrian Whatchamacallits, writes:

Selvedges and stitches. I am now quite used to following up a source quoted in Wilson and finding something very different from what he suggests (the classic remains the discrepancy between Wilson’s depiction of della Rovere’s actual portrayal of Christ in the Shroud and his own version, p. 28 of my 2010 edition of Wilson’s The Shroud in which Wilson even reverses the position of the arms!).

So while I was having a research day in the Cambridge University Library, I called in the Masada Report to check out the source references given above. In my edition of Wilson the discussion is on p. 109-110.

P. 169, fig. sixteen does exist. It does show a selvedge on a goat hair cloth. The excavators appear to have illustrated it because it is woven on a tubular or two beamed loom. No other example of the use of this kind of loom or selvedge has been found this early in the Mediterranean . However, earlier examples are known in northern Europe from earlier so the suggestion is that either the cloth originated in northern Europe –more likely – see further below- – or is evidence for the first use of this kind of selvedge in the Mediterranean. Wilson then gives a reference to Gabriel Vial’s 1989 report on the Shroud in which Vial talks of the construction of the Shroud’s selvedge as ’tout a fait inhabituelle’. He does not give the page number in my edition of The Shroud, but it is p. 15 with an illustration on p.16 of the Shroud’s selvedge. (The article is in the CIETA Bulletin for 1989, Dave B quotes a reference for pages 27-9 from his edition of Wilson but this is a completely different article!) The problem is that the selvedge on the Shroud does not appear the same as the selvedge shown in the Masada report. So all we can do is agree with Vial –the article is his own report of his examination of the Shroud while they were choosing the sample for radiocarbon dating on 21st April, 1988, so is interesting and perhaps even important in its own right- that the selvedge on the Shroud is ‘very unusual’.

We next go on to the reference to figs. 111-113 on pages 201-11 of the Masada report. Yes these figs. do exist and on these pages. They all refer to the same fragment of wool. It is picked out and illustrated as it is wool, 2:2, Z twist spin, balanced diamond twill. So except for the Z spin being similar to that of the Shroud , I can’t see why this is relevant- it is not herringbone, linen or 3:1. In the discussion on the origins of the textiles found at Masada (p. 239), this cloth is placed in their group iv. The excavators’ conclusion is that these textiles probably came from northern Europe as this kind of twist (Z) and this kind of pattern is known from examples there. They suggest it may have come in with Roman soldiers who were involved in the crushing of the Masada revolt. I simply cannot see why Wilson provides a reference to a piece of cloth that has absolutely nothing in common with the Shroud except that its thread is Z spun (and thus as the excavators suggest probably spun in northern Europe).

So far nothing about stitching at all so I had to find my own reference to the stitching in the Masada report and it is found on pp 170-1 where they discuss the 45 textiles that have stitching on them. They illustrate six of these stitches on figs. 20-25 but they do not describe any of them as exceptional. So I was surprised to find that Wilson reproduces Masada fig. 23 (as his fig. 8)- which is a counter-hemming stitch- as one which the excavators ‘adjudged to be a very unusual seam’. I can’t find any reference to such a judgement but as Wilson has provided no references it may have been somewhere outside the accompanying text in this section.

Luckily I had access to a higher authority- my wife who designed and sewed theatre costumes for her degree and then went on to work in the textiles department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. She took one look at Wilson’s ‘unusual seam’ and said in fact that this was the standard stitch for joining two pieces of cloth together when one wanted to make sure the ends did not fray. Nothing unusual about it at all!

Wilson does mention that Mechthild Flury-Lemberg is on record as saying that this stitch is similar to the one on the Shroud but he gives no reference for her opinion. In fact, it would seem that the stitch on the Shroud is the basic standard one which one would use then and now to join two pieces of cloth.

And so how much more time does one waste with Wilson? I have certainly better things to do but at least I can warn Shroud researchers to take anything that Wilson says with a large pinch of salt. I had only to read into the next page to find other issues that I could have dealt with in the same way as here but life is too short and I have far more interesting and accurate historians to work with. Hugh seems the man for the job of taking a critique of Wilson further – sorry Hugh but so long as people are going on quoting Wilson in their support it needs to be done.

Categories: Books, History, News & Views

Off Topic: New Novel – The Donation of Constantine

November 27, 2013 3 comments

imageJason Pat writes:

This is to let you know that Simon LeVay’s new novel, ‘The Donation of Constantine,’ has just come out. It’s a religious-historical novel set in 8th-century Italy, and it revolves around the famous and enigmatic forgery known as — you guessed it — the Donation of Constantine. Here’s a brief description:

In the middle of the eighth century, the decaying city of Rome lies defenseless against the advance of the warmongering Lombards. The new Pope, Stephen II, appeals for help from the Eastern Emperor, but none arrives. In desperation, the Pope’s younger brother and an English nun conspire to change the course of history—at the risk of their own souls. Based on real people and actual events, this is a story of intrigue, passion, war, and the struggle for control of medieval Europe.

The book does deal seriously with Catholic politics and the evolution of the papacy — and in that sense it holds up a distant mirror to the present-day Church — but it’s all wrapped up in an adventure story that should please anyone.

There’s more information about His book at its website, www.lambournbooks.com This site includes information on how to order the physical book or the ebook in the U.S., the U.K., or Europe. The Amazon page for the paperback is here
http://www.amazon.com/The-Donation-Constantine-A-Novel/dp/147013215X/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1381341287&sr=8-17&keywords=simon+levay

[ . . . ]

Sounds fun. I ordered a Kindle version.

Categories: Books, Off Topic

More from Danusha Goska

November 12, 2013 5 comments

imageAt the risk of repeating myself, again and perhaps again (and does anyone care – it’s a blog) as I said before, I first encountered the writings of Danusha Goska more than a decade ago when I read a comment about the shroud published by Barrie Schwortz (it is about 1/3 of the way down the page). I’ve discussed her in ‘If the shroud is a forgery, where are its precedents?’ two and a half years ago. There was Bieganski the Blog: The Shroud of Turin and Catholics, Atheists, Censorship and the Shroud of Turin: Who Censored Whom? by Danusha in Send Save Delete.

Now (three days ago) in Send Save Delete there is another posting on the shroud by Danusha. She is reading Ian Wilson’s 476-page, 2010 book "The Shroud: Fresh Light on the 2000-Year-Old Mystery."

When the carbon dating came out in 1988, I was living in Poland, participating in the riots that helped bring down the Soviet Empire, and the Shroud was the last thing on my mind.

It wasn’t till a televised documentary in the late 1990’s that a friend recorded and sent to me (thank you Don Freidkin) that I really got bitten by the Shroud bug. I read two Shroud books, one by Mark Antonacci (review here) and an earlier book by Ian Wilson (review here.)

I loved both of those books but they left me fifty percent convinced that the Shroud was what its adherents say it is, and fifty percent willing to be convinced that we were missing something terribly obvious and it really wasn’t all that.

I watched documentaries on youtube. Barrie Schwortz, Shroud expert, Orthodox Jew, and STURP photographer, allowed me to grill him long distance in an interview that lasted over an hour, during which Barrie insisted, "After years of study, I am absolutely certain that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ."

Thomas de Wesselow’s book "The Sign" pushed me ever closer to believing that the Shroud is genuine. Interesting, because de Wesselow is not a believer. (Review of his book here.)

The book that is pushing the needle to 99% certainty is the one I’m reading now, and can’t wait to talk about, even though I’m not finished with it yet. Ian Wilson’s "The Shroud: Fresh Light on the 2000-Year-Old-Mystery."

About Danusha Goska from the Green Briar Review (from where the picture comes):

Danusha Goska’s writing has appeared in national publications like Sojourners and The Sun, in scholarly journals, such as The Journal of Popular Culture, Polin, and New York Folklore, and on websites such as Commondreams.org, TheScreamOnline.com, and Beliefnet.

Danusha has received hundreds of letters in response to "Political Paralysis," anthologized in The Impossible Will Take a Little While. Though the anthology contains works by Mandela, Neruda, and Martin Luther King, editor Paul Loeb wrote, "Goska is unknown, but more people have responded to her piece than any other in the book…when I’m interviewed on radio shows, people mention it as their personal favorite."

Danusha has won the New Jersey State Council on the Arts grant, the Eva Kagan Kans Award, The PAHA Halecki Award, and others. She holds an MA from UC Berkeley, a PhD from IU Bloomington, and she teaches at WPUNJ.

Of Similarities: The Tunic of Argenteuil and the Shroud of Turin

November 6, 2013 53 comments

clip_image001By email, Joe Marino sends along some very interesting quotations from the new book, Witnesses to Mystery: Investigations into Christ’s Relics by Grzegorz Gorny (Author) and Janusz Rosikon (Illustrator). They are from a chapter “on the little-known ‘Tunic of Argenteuil,’” Joe writes, “believed to be the robe mentioned in Mt 27:31 and the tunic mentioned in Jn19:23-24.”:

1) of many similarities as discussed on pp. 190 and 191:

     In 1998 scientists at the Optics Institute in Orsay decided to compare the bloodstain patterns on the Tunic of Argenteuil and on the Turin Shroud  They created realistic and rotational computerized geometric models of what the tunic would look like if worn by a man of the same physical stature and morphology as the man depicted on the shroud.  The result was absolutely bewildering:  it turned out that the bloodstains on the tunic were aligned exactly with the imprinted wounds visible on the shroud.  Overlaying both images drove the scientists to the conclusion that both clothes were stained by the same bleeding man.

     Could that man have been Jesus of Nazareth?  It was confirmed that the tunic was produced using horizontal looms, whose width matched the proportions of those looms used in Christ’s time.  The weave, made using a so-called Z twist, indicates that the robe was probably made in the Near or Middle East.  The fabric’s dye was made of dyer’s madder (Rubia tinctorum), which was in widespread use in ancient times around the Mediterranean Basin.  The dyeing took place before the fabric was woven, and alum was used alongside the dye to dress the cloth.  Both of these practices were common in the first century.

     Because of these results, interest in the tunic steadily grew throughout the scientific community.  In 2004, the Institute of Genetic Molecular Anthropology in Paris commenced tests on the relic.  During restoration work one year earlier, the tunic was cleaned with a special vacuum cleaner.  Scientists therefore decided to analyze the vacuumed particles.  With the use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM), they discovered 115 pollen grains belonged (sic) to 18 plant species.  The most frequently occurring types of pollen were from:  nettle (Urtica fragilis), with 41 grains, and Syrian mesquite (Prosopis farcta), with 13 grains.  Most of the pollen grains belonged to species that had already been discovered on the Turin Shroud (six species) and the Sudarium of Oviedo (seven species)  Among them were Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libani) and spreading pellitory (Parietaria judaica).  The most significant discovery, however, was of two species endemic to Palestine:  the terebinth (Pistacia palaestina) and the tamarisk (Tamarix hampeana).  Their pollen grains have likewise been discovered on the Turin and Oviedo cloths.

2) on the limitations of carbon dating as discussed in pp. 192-193:

     From all the tests conducted on the Holy Tunic of Argenteuil, only one result challenges its ancient origins.  This was achieved using carbon dating tests, which took place in 2004 and 2005 under the initiative of the subprefect of Argenteuil, Jean-Pierre Maurice.  A sample of the relic’s fabric was tested twice using C14 radiocarbon particles.  The first test, in 2004, concluded that the tunic dated back to between A.D. 530 and 650, and the second test, in 2005, placed the date between 670 and 880.  Already, the variation in results points to the unreliable nature of carbon testing, as has been discussed with regard to the Turin Shroud.

     Lucotte says he following with regard to the limitations of carbon dating:  "There are many factors that can alter the results of tests using radiocarbon particles.  Even scientists who carry out the tests admit that this method of dating only works properly when the test sample is actually representative of the material whose age one wishes to determine.  In other words, the C14 particles in the test sample must come from the same era as the fabric as a whole.  If at some point over the years the fabric became suffused with either older or younger carbon particles, then the tests would obviously be rendered inconclusive.  In the case where older carbon particles are present, the fabric is dated as being older than it is, and the opposite is true if the fabric contains younger carbon particles."

     Carbon dating can be particularly unreliable with fabrics, since they easily absorb fluids containing substances in which one can find traces of carbon, such as calcium carbonate (which occurs naturally as chalk, limestone, and marble) or organic materials.  The presence of these carbon particles, which can be deeply embedded within the fabric, can have a great effect on test results.  In the case of the Tunic of Argenteuil this is highly likely:  in an attempt to protect it from insects and mold, the relic was treated in the last century with the insecticide DDT, which contains a large amount of carbon.

New Book About Christ’s Relics from Ignatius Press

October 31, 2013 8 comments

hat tip to Joe Marino for this lead

imageThis book, published just a week ago, looks fascinating. (But is that a lepton in the upper left-hand corner of the cover?)

It’s called Witnesses to Mystery: Investigations into Christ’s Relics  and it is by by Grzegorz Gorny (Author) and Janusz Rosikon (Illustrator). It is only available in a hardcover edition. The price at Amazon is $23.77.

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158617844X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586178444
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.8 x 1 inches

The publisher, a significant Catholic publisher and film and music producer, offers the following description:

In this lavishly illustrated large coffee-table volume, writer Gorny and photographer Rosikon embarked on a two year investigative journey to seek the truth behind all the relics associated with the passion of Christ. The authors investigated a rich body of documentary evidence found in various museums, archives and churches surrounding sacred objects believed to have been preserved since Jesus’ lifetime, exploring and collaborating with historians and scientists in their attempt to verify the relics’ authenticity. They reach their conclusions not so much on the basis of faith as on the evidence supplied by historical sources and expert scientific opinion.

The relics associated with the Passion – the suffering, death and burial of Christ – have long proved something of an enigma for the scientific community. Relics investigated, and photographed, for this glorious volume include: the Cross, nails, crown of thorns, pillar of scourging, Christ’s tunic, the Veil of Manoppello, the Sudarium of Oviedo, the famous Shroud of Turin burial cloth and more.

Grzegorz Górny is a reporter, essayist, and film and television producer. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the quarterly Fronda, and from 1994 to 2001 he co-authored a program under the same title that aired on the Polish national television. He has produced various documentary television series and authored numerous articles for European publications. His books includeBattle for Madrid (2010).

Janusz Rosikon is a photographer and a member of the Polish Journalists’ Association and the Association of Polish Artistic Photographers. His photographs have been featured in Time,Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest and various European publications. His work has been exhibited in public galleries in Poland, England, Austria, and North America. 

Categories: Books

New Book by Dame De Saint-Simone

October 28, 2013 13 comments

imageHat tip to Joe Marino for a new book lead:  A Historic Search for The Face of Jesus: The True Likeness of God by Ysatis De Saint-Simone

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.2 inches
    Publisher’s Description at Amazon

Never before in Myth, History or Legend has there been, or will be a Being like Jesus the Christ. ‘A Historic Search for the Face of Jesus’ presents the powerful physical presence of Jesus – as it was and is- in all its magnificence, for Beauty and Love are two of the attributes of God and He exudes them both. The book is based on a thorough research on His true likeness, which Dame De Saint-Simone compiled into a book to show to the general public a historic proof of the majestic beauty and the powerful physical presence of the Son of God. ‘A Historic Search for the Face of Jesus’ compares the true historic evidence of His likeness to the unfortunately inaccurate images that one sees in all media outlets, that more often than not, downgrade His physical appearance – to the point of being quasi malicious. This book contradicts with true evidence all of these by using the real images of Jesus found in different sources: i.e. a Mural of early Christendom (3rd Century A.D.), of His true image, the imprints of His image on the Vero-Ikon and on the Holy Shroud of Turin, the painting of the Sacred Heart that Sor Faustina, to whom He appeared, directed a painter to do, and of a real photo of Jesus taken by Sor Anna Ali in one of His apparitions to her – all of them resembling each other. A true historical evidence of how Jesus truly looked and still looks. If you really want know what Jesus looked like, you have in this book true evidence of the Beauty of God made Man.

Categories: Books

A Revised Edition of the book by Robert Wilcox

October 4, 2013 Leave a comment

A reader writes:

I just noticed that Robert K. Wilcox has released a revised edition of “THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SHROUD OF TURIN”. What is new or different from the 2010 edition?

imageI don’t know. The 2010 book was certainly a major revision to the 1977 book by Wilcox (pictured here from his author page at Amazon). Is this a major revision? It doesn’t look like it. Maybe there is a clue in these sentences from the Preface:

And now we even have a probable link between the shroud and the Knights Templar, which fills in the most important blank in the history of the shroud. All these discoveries, and more, as well as the 2010 rare public exposition of the linen, prompted me to renew my investigation and write the book you have before you.

What I noticed is that the book is now available in audio form read by a professional narrator, Jeremy Edwin Gage. It runs 7 hours and 22 minutes. I’ve become a big fan of audible books, mostly history. I listen to them on my iPhone while walking the dog each day,

I’ll download it. Maybe I’ll hear what is different from when I read the book about three years ago.

I just noticed, Wilcox has five different books in Audible.com. And they are history, like Target Patton. Hmm.

Categories: Books

The Gospel According to Bill O’Reilly Continued

September 30, 2013 5 comments

imageI watched the twelve-minute segment of 60 Minutes about Bill O’Reilly and his new book (see my earlier September 27 posting, The Gospel According to Bill O’Reilly). I was amazed at the man’s arrogance. Here is how CBS bills the interview conducted by Norah O’Donnell:

The Gospel according to Bill O’Reilly? 
September 29, 2013 4:00 PM

Bill O’Reilly, the king of cable TV news, says the Holy Spirit tapped him to write "Killing Jesus" – a book that refutes parts of the Bible

Watch it by clicking on the image above.

Here are some choice bits posted by Anugrah Kumar in the Christian Post right after the show aired:

"And I believe – because I’m a Catholic – that comes from the Holy Spirit. My inspiration comes from that. And so I wrote Killing Jesus because I think I was directed to write that," added O’Reilly in the interview with Norah O’Donnell that will air on Sunday evening.

O’Donnell asked O’Reilly if he thinks he’s a chosen one. "I’m just one of many who have been given gifts," replied the anchor of "The O’Reilly Factor." "I can write. I can bloviate on TV. So I’m trying to use the gifts in a positive way. And I believe that’s all directed and that’s why I’m here on the planet."

In Killing Jesus, O’Reilly "details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth," according to publisher Henry Holt and Company, which paid the two authors $10 million as advance

Some parts of the book contradict the New Testament’s accounts of the crucifixion. For example, O’Reilly believes Jesus couldn’t have spoken the words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," because the crucifixion wouldn’t have allowed enough air in His lungs.

Categories: Books, Video

The Gospel According to Bill O’Reilly

September 27, 2013 9 comments

imageThe AP is reporting:

Bill O’Reilly says God told him to write his new book, "Killing Jesus: A History."

The Fox News anchor explains in an interview on CBS’ "60 Minutes" that one night he awoke with the title of the book in his head. He says he believes he got that message from the Holy Spirit.

O’Reilly says the book is a researched, historic account. Despite its de-emphasis of religion, he is using his special gifts from God in a positive way.

He says it’s all part of God’s plan for him.

I’m sure he thinks so.  Actually, it is Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, who also co-authored "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy" with O’Reilly. O’Reilly’s name is just so much bigger  because God told the publisher that he talks to O’Reilly.

Is the shroud mentioned? The authors come close – and oh so far. Here is a quote:

[T]hey do make the extravagant gesture of coating the body in expensive myrrh and aloe, to overwhelm the coming smell of decomposition. Then they wrap the body tightly in linen, making sure to keep it loose around Jesus’s face in case he is not really dead but merely unconscious. In this way, he will not suffocate. Jewish tradition dictates that all bodies be examined three days after apparent death. Thus the tomb will be reopened and Jesus will be observed on Sunday.

But all this is merely adherence to ritual. For Jesus is clearly dead. The spear rupturing the pericardial sac around his heart left no doubt.

Nonetheless, the tomb will be reopened on Sunday. When death is formally pronounced, his body will rest inside the tomb for a full year. Then the bones will be removed from his decomposed body and placed in a small stone jar known as an ossuary . . .

Pericardial sac? Where do we think they got that?

There is this:

As the two Marys approach the tomb, they are stunned. The tombstone has been rolled away. The crypt is empty.

Mary Magdalene cautiously steps forward and looks inside. She smells the myrrh and aloe in which Jesus’s body was anointed. She clearly sees the linen shroud in which the body was wrapped. But there is nothing else there.

To this day, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has never been found.

Mary clearly saw the shroud? Did the AP not say, “O’Reilly says the book is a researched, historic account. . .  he is using his special gifts from God in a positive way.”

Yup! Got to love this paragraphs from a review of the book by New Testament scholar Joel L. Watts:

. . . While promising a researched narrative they simply rely on a fanciful retelling of the Fourfold Gospel story. It is written, I believe, to appeal to the fundamentalist and the evangelical but fails miserably in the hype induced by Mr. O’Reilly’s comments earlier this year, that somehow Jesus was crucified because he a member of the Taxed Enough Already Party.

Categories: Books, History

Shreds of Evidence: A Guest Posting by Joe Marino

September 23, 2013 107 comments

“several thoughts popped into my mind”

imageBy Joe Marino:

I recently rewatched a Shroud program titled "Shreds of Evidence" shown on A&E cable network on 4/21/95.  It was a BBC/Timewatch production.  I believe that was the 1st time it had been broadcast in the United States.  I’m not sure when it was first shown in England.  But it was actually produced in 1988, per the date listed at the end of the video and something else I’ll mention in a minute.

The program starts out with the late Fr. Peter Rinaldi, a well-known Shroud advocate, going to the Cathedral to pray before the Shroud.  But when I tell you that David Sox was interviewed a lot and was the program consultant, you will be able to guess what direction the program heads.  Sox is an American Episcopal priest who has been living in England for some decades now.  He was the 1st General Secretary of the British Society for the Turin Shroud and seemingly pro-Shroud in the 70s until he apparently became convinced by the evidence put forth by McCrone, who believed it showed that the Shroud was a fake.

Sox, as many of you know, had the book The Shroud Unmasked printed and ready to go when the C-14 dates were released in October 1988.  Against the protocol set for the C-14 labs, he was given advance information about the results, and I believe was even allowed to observe the actual testing at Zurich.

The program paints a picture of pro-Shroud scientists, including STURP of course, as those who have let their religious feelings get in the way of their scientific objectivity.  It paints a picture of C-14 being pretty much fool-proof.  It paints a picture of science pretty much always proving that religion is rarely if ever on the same level as science.  It paints a picture of the 14th century being a time of many relics and very much into suffering, implying that the Shroud fits in perfectly with that time as a man-made object.  The point is made that people in the 14th century literally paid to see the Shroud.

What really jumped out at me at the end of the program was when the rolling text gave the dates that the British Museum received the results from Zurich and Arizona and Oxford was delayed.  It then said that the official results were expected in September.  So this documentary was already complete in summer 1988!  So Sox not only had his book ready to go when the dates were announced, he was significantly involved in a documentary completed before the dates were even announced.

I think this is interesting in light of the later discovery that "anonymous businessmen" made a 1 million pound donation to Oxford for ostensibly having proven the Shroud to be a forgery.  And, of course, we know that the British Museum’s Dr. Michael Tite, who was billed as the independent overseer of the 1988 C-14 dating, left the museum and took the place of the late Dr. Edward (Teddy) Hall, when he resigned shortly after the dating and after the lab had received the donation.

Knowing that Sox’s book was ready to go when the results were announced and that "Shreds of Evidence" was produced even before the official dates were announced, several thoughts popped into my mind:

*Was having both the book and documentary ready before the official dates were announced designed as a specific psychological attack on those who believed the Shroud to be authentic?  If so, what individuals or groups were involved?

*Were there any connections/associations between the publisher of Sox’s book, BBC/Timewatch, which put out the documentary, and the "anonymous businessmen" that donated the million pounds to Oxford?

*We may never know the answers, but I have a feeling that if we did, there would be some shocking revelations.

Google, McCrone and my Dog

August 22, 2013 98 comments

imageForget the NSA; Google, I’m told, tracks every web search I make. And it probably reads my emails, too. And it obviously sells something about me to advertisers. Just this morning I logged into my veterinarian’s pet medication site to check on a prescription for my dog. There was a link to an article about what to do if a dog is bitten by a snake. Living in South Carolina, where we see Copperheads a couple of times a week, I was interested and clicked on the article. Right there, near the top of the page, was an advertisement from Amazon informing me that Walter McCrone’s “Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin” was now available on Kindle. You think that was a targeted ad? For dog lovers or for people who searches for material about the shroud? You think anyone else sees that ad in a veterinary medicine portal?

Did I want to see a sample? Yes! The following, appearing in the book, is from a proposal letter that McCrone sent to Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi in 1977. Amazing:

For centuries the Turin Shroud has been a holy relic of the Catholic Church but owned by the Italian House of Savoy. The Shroud rests in a silver chest in the Cathedral of St. John in Turin, Italy. The provenance for the Shroud is known dependably for more than 600 years with considerable evidence extending this date back to the time of Christ.

It would be a tremendous accomplishment if the Shroud could be dated, and a date near the time of Christ would certainly lend considerable weight to the evidence that it is indeed the Shroud of Christ Himself. It is also important to determine the nature of the image on the linen. If the image and the stains that form a part of that image are shown to have been caused by body fluids, this would be further authentication. Finally, success in these two areas (the date and presence of body fluids) would then make it be very difficult not to conclude that the Shroud is indeed that of Christ.

We believe there is an excellent chance that the Shroud can be dated, using very new techniques, and that the chemical nature of the stains can be established. We further believe that this can be done without removing easily detectable samples from the Shroud. We will discuss each of these analytical problems in turn, beginning with the problem of dating very small samples of organic materials such as linen.

So I ordered the book for my dog.

When I pray I see a face, a human face among other human faces

August 19, 2013 Leave a comment

and how much, I wonder, is growing familiarity with the shroud
shaping how we imagine the face in an angry crowd

imageThe book has been available in Great Britain for over a year. Now it is coming to the U.S.  We’ll see it on the shelves this October. Here is the description of the book at Amazon:

Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic is a wonderfully pugnacious defense of Christianity. Refuting critics such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the "new atheist" crowd, Spufford, a former atheist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, argues that Christianity is recognizable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who believe in it by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the grown-up dignity of Christian experience.

Fans of C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, Marilynne Robinson, Mary Karr, Diana Butler Bass, Rob Bell, and James Martin will appreciate Spufford’s crisp, lively, and abashedly defiant thesis.

Unapologetic is a book for believers who are fed up with being patronized, for non-believers curious about how faith can possibly work in the twenty-first century, and for anyone who feels there is something indefinably wrong, literalistic, anti-imaginative and intolerant about the way the atheist case is now being made.

Here is a quotation picked up from a posting three days ago by Ethan Richardson in Mockingbird:

Christians too, of course, draw consolation from the patterns faith makes as it repeats in time. For us too there’s an important wisdom in not leading a life whose only measure is the impulse of the moment. But our main comfort in the face of unjustifiable suffering is very different. It’s not an investment in order we’re asked to make; it’s a gamble on change. Our hope in not in time cycling on predictably and benevolently under an almighty hand. Our hope is in time interrupted, disrupted, abruptly altering from moment to moment. We don’t say that God’s in His heaven and all’s well with the world; not deep down. We say: all is not well with the world, but at least God is here in it, with us. We don’t have an argument that solves the problem of the cruel world, but we have a story.

imageWhen I pray, I am not praying to a philosophically complicated absentee creator. When I manage to pay attention to the continual love song, I am not trying to envisage the impossible-to-imagine domain beyond the universe. I do not picture kings, thrones, crystal pavements, or any of the possible cosmological updatings of these things. I look across, not up; I look into the world, not out or away. When I pray I see a face, a human face among other human faces. It is a face in an angry crowd, a crowd engorged by the imageconfidence that it is doing the right thing, that it is being virtuous. The man in the middle of the crowd does not look virtuous. He looks tired and frightened and battered by the passions around him. But he is the crowd’s focus and centre. The centre of everything, in fact, because if you are a Christian you do not believe that the characteristic action of the God of everything is to mould the course of the universe powerfully from afar.For a Christian, the most essential thing God does in time, in all of human history, is to be that man in the crowd; a man under arrest, and on his way to our common catastrophe (106-108).

And how much, I wonder, is growing familiarity with the shroud shaping how we imagine the face in an angry crowd.

The photograph of Francis Spufford is from The Telegraph.

Categories: Books, Other Blogs

Shroud of Turin Quote of the Year (so far)

August 18, 2013 5 comments

imageEven Che Guevara, a proven ideological monster, started looking good next to this Jesus, to speak only about their looks. Che still looks good on his youth poster, but Jesus, who didn’t photograph so well on the shroud of Turin, doesn’t even look human when Aslan’s done with him.

–– Andrei Codrescu,writing in the Los
Angeles Review of Books,
importantly reprinted
just yesterday in Salon, arguing that Reza Aslan’s
“Zealot” paints Jesus as a Nazarene Che Guevara
(Hat tip to John Klotz)

For context, you should read the full embracing paragraph:

clip_image001. . . This carefully strategic Jesus of “history” is born of Aslan’s own pruning and sifting of the meager “historical evidence.” Jesus the Zealot emerges as little more than a collection of bullet points for Aslan’s arguments against the “love Jesus.” (Produced, incidentally, by the same “historical evidence.”) Zealot certainly took away my appetite to revisit Jesus Christ Superstar. I had to stay home and study my Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and all the other dreary horrors of the “revolutionary” horde that bored the piss out of my childhood. Even Che Guevara, a proven ideological monster, started looking good next to this Jesus, to speak only about their looks. Che still looks good on his youth poster, but Jesus, who didn’t photograph so well on the shroud of Turin, doesn’t even look human when Aslan’s done with him.

Actually, you should read the entire almost-long-form article.

Recall, I mentioned the book recently: Fox News Propels Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus to Number One (the video embedded in that posting has since been removed from YouTube at the request of Fox News).

Categories: Books, News & Views, Quotations

Comments du jour: I have read Meacham’s book, twice actually

August 17, 2013 1 comment

imageIt is by now the 55th comment in the thread, Here is a crowdfunding campaign we should be able to support and the subject has drifted which is fine.

Yannick Clément writes:

If you read again Meacham’s book Ron, you will note that the question of sampling the charred material around the fire holes was a possibility that was totally rejected at the protocol meeting in Turin that was done before the sampling of 1988 and even Meacham himself was against this kind of unsure sampling.

Later on, after the 2002 restoration, Meacham made a full turn of 180 degree about that because Ray Rogers convinced him that such a material was very good and not that risky for an accurate C14 dating. At that point in time, Meacham, Rogers and other Shroud researchers wrote to Turin and ask the authorities to do a new C14 dating with the charred material that has been scraped away from the 1532 fire holes and well preserved in glass bottles during the 2002 restoration. If I remember well, the Turin authorities did not even send them an answer!!!

Ron responds:

Who cares! …Yannick you seem to think you alone have read books (closely) and maintain the ‘real’ knowledge. As I stated before I have read Meacham’s book, twice actually, along with dozens of others and have studied the process of radiocarbon dating in detail. I am completely aware of all that went on leading to the 1988 c14 fiasco, and my point stands…If they had used some common-sense, my idea of how it should have been tackled should have been followed…Why they ‘truly’ did not, is the million dollar question and ridiculous to think it was simply due to aesthetics. Furthermore, I do not need to rely simply on Meacham’s book, to come to my conclusions. I can think for myself.

Crowdfunding? As I mentioned, the subject drifted, which. I repeat, is fine.  It was now about carbon dating. What Meacham wrote about, thought about and speculated on became the main thread of discussion by comment 14. It is an informative discussion.  If you missed the discussion, I recommend it.

Categories: Books, Carbon 14 Dating

Fox News Propels Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus to Number One

July 30, 2013 5 comments

imageThis will probably be the hottest book about Jesus this year. Erik Wemple explains why in the Washington Post:

Fox News has done a great deal to promote Reza Aslan’s new book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” How so? An interview conducted by Lauren Green on FoxNews.com managed to so thoroughly insult and trash Aslan’s motives in writing the book that the whole world is clicking on the tete-a-tete.

The Fox News interview is available on many sites The YouTube version (below) has had over two million viewings in just two days. Cable and online excerpts extend bits of the interview to several more million people.

Erik Wemple prepared a transcript of the interview, which I enjoyed better than the video – but you have to see at least some of the video. This has to be the stupidest television interview ever.

Right now, thanks in large measure to the interview, Zealot is the number 1 best seller on Amazon. That is simply unbelievable for a scholarly historical book about Jesus – come to think of it scholarly or historical about anyone.  The book is also, as of a few minutes ago, number 1 on the New York Times non-fiction list. It is sold out in many retail stores. Amazon is requiring extra days for handling and shipping. Your best bet may be Kindle or, if you like to listen to books, Audible.

I just did a scan of the book at Google books. Although Jesus’ burial and tomb are discussed, there is no mention of the shroud – not that I expected it.

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