Archive for the ‘Off Topic’ Category

Life of the Party in the Sistine Chapel’s Ceiling

November 4, 2012 Comments off

Since we have been discussing the Sistine Chapel, I thought you would like to see the picture that the Huffington Post put together to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the ceiling a couple of days ago:

imageAnd the article reads:

Five hundred years ago today [(November 1)] every single fresco was put to shame when the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was first revealed to the public. The painted work embodies the artistic lifeblood of the High Renaissance and serves as a living tapestry of spirituality, visual storytelling and bodies in motion. The Chapel also inaugurated the artistic tradition of luring in a gigantic amount of tourists, craning their necks, sweating profusely and jostling to get a prime position beneath a work of genius. We’d like to honor that tradition on this joyous anniversary.

Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to create the Vatican’s most prized work of eye-candy. After enlisting other big-name artists like Raphael, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio to paint other parts of the chapel, the Pope had particularly high hopes for the ceiling, wishing to imbue it with layers of complexity and multiple meanings, some of which are still being unpacked today. Although Michelangelo was foremost a sculptor before taking on what would become his most legendary accomplishment, his mastery of the male form seemed to translate effortlessly from marble to canvas.

Categories: Off Topic

Sandy’s Effect on this blog

November 1, 2012 5 comments

imageIt has been a little slow around here on this blog lately. Many of you know that I moved to South Carolina from New York earlier this year. South Carolina was spared, completely. But New York and nearby New Jersey and Connecticut were devastated. We have a grown daughter who was evacuated from her home in Brooklyn. We have another grown daughter in Washington D. C., which also faced much of the storm’s furry. We have many friends in New York and because even cell phone towers are without power, we have not been able to reach many of them. My wife and I sit glued to the TV seeing pictures of the devastation and destruction of places we knew and loved. I’ve been a bit pre-occupied. Please be patient.

Categories: Off Topic

The Latest and Greatest Near Death Experience (NDE) So Far?

October 10, 2012 5 comments


"This book is a thunderbolt!" writes Dr. Rabbi Meir Sendor.

And a priest comments in an article that appears in the Huffington Post, Eben Alexander, Harvard Neurosurgeon, Describes Heaven After Near-Death Experience a(VIDEO):

"I stood at Eben’s bedside ready to read Last Rites," writes Rev. Michael R. Sullivan, Rector, Holy Innocent’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Ga. "With vivid detail and description, he invites you to walk with him to that place none of us has experienced yet in our humanity we know we shall one day certainly travel. Having survived a near death experience and brought his neurological expertise and background to it, we gain both the insight of the mystics in his poetic words and the reality of the physical world in his scientific explorations."

And as Eben Alexander, himself, explains it in Newsweek. It is the Newsweek cover story:

Although I considered myself a faithful Christian, I was so more in name than in actual belief. I didn’t begrudge those who wanted to believe that Jesus was more than simply a good man who had suffered at the hands of the world. I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God somewhere out there who loved us unconditionally. In fact, I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better than to believe them myself.

In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.

I know how pronouncements like mine sound to skeptics, so I will tell my story with the logic and language of the scientist I am.

PrinceofPeace13The question that many will ask is how this relates to the other big NDE story reported on here about a year and a half ago, Akiane’s Jesus, Heaven is for Real and the Man in the Turin Shroud.

Certainly, the “witnesses” to heaven are different. How different are the descriptions? How different are the criteria for judging the truthfulness of the stories. We will need to read Alexander’s book when it comes out. In the meantime we have this by Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, author of Life Beyond Life, 1974:

imageDr Eben Alexander’s near-death experience is the most astounding I have heard in more than four decades of studying this phenomenon. In my opinion, Dr Alexander is living proof of an afterlife. The extraordinary circumstances of his illness and his impeccable credentials make it very hard to formulate a mundane explanation for his case. For me, it is difficult to shake the feeling that his experience was somehow divinely ordained. Dr. Alexander’s book Proof of Heaven deserves to be a major international bestseller, and I believe it will be.

I am confident that Dr. Alexander’s story will capture worldwide interest. It will inspire many to accept that there really is life after death. I suspect his book will be a global game-changer. It has seismic implications and may help humanity arrive at a more accurate understanding of life’s true meaning and purpose in the larger sense.

Dr. Eben Alexander’s near-death experience stands as perhaps one of the crown jewels of all near-death experiences. The knowledge of what he experienced raises the bar for serious investigators and pundits. It marks the beginning of a new era of rational investigation of humankind’s deepest mystery, life after death."

And many more reviews at Life Beyond Death: Consciousness if the Most Profound Mystery in the Universe

L’Osservatore Romano Weighs In on the Coptic Papyrus

September 28, 2012 20 comments

The Huffington Post is reporting:

imageVATICAN CITY — The Vatican newspaper has added to the doubts surrounding Harvard University’s claim that a 4th century Coptic papyrus fragment showed that some early Christians believed that Jesus was married, declaring it a "fake."

The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article Thursday by leading Coptic scholar Alberto Camplani and an accompanying editorial by the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, an expert in early Christianity. They both cited concerns expressed by other scholars about the fragment’s authenticity and the fact that it was purchased on the market without a known archaeological provenance.

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Off Topic: Major Shifts in Religiosity and Atheism Reported

August 15, 2012 4 comments

imageReligion News Services (via the Huffington Post) is reporting Atheism Rises, Religiosity Declines In America:

The poll, called "The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism," found that the number of Americans who say they are "religious" dropped from 73 percent in 2005 (the last time the poll was conducted) to 60 percent.

At the same time, the number of Americans who say they are atheists rose, from 1 percent to 5 percent.

The poll was conducted by WIN-Gallup International and is based on interviews with 50,000 people from 57 countries and five continents. Participants were asked, "Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?"

The seven years between the polls is notable because 2005 saw the publication of "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, the first in a wave of best-selling books on atheism by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and other so-called "New Atheists."

"The obvious implication is that this is a manifestation of the New Atheism movement," said Ryan Cragun, a University of Tampa sociologist of religion who studies American and global atheism.

Still, Cragun does not believe the poll shows more people are becoming atheists, but rather that more people are willing to identify as atheists.

[. . . ]

Another possible factor may be the number of atheists within organized efforts by American atheist groups to encourage those who do not believe in God to say so publicly. The Out Campaign, a project of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, was launched in 2007 and has since been endorsed by several national atheist groups.

That’s the foundation David Rolfe pledged £20,000 to if they “simply accept the challenge [to show how the shroud might have been ‘faked up’] and follow it through to some kind of conclusion. The public can make up their own minds about the result.”

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Is Consciousness Fundamental? Is Resurrection Fundamental to the Shroud Image?

August 9, 2012 106 comments

V.V. Raman, emeritus professor of physics and humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology writing in Science & Religion Today asks Is Consciousness Fundamental?

it is fair to say that consciousness is fundamental to the full expression of the physical universe, just as an audience is fundamental to an enacted play. If the world is a sonnet that happened by chance, consciousness is the reader without whom that sonnet would forever remain in a dark abysmal depth. In this sense, the emergence of consciousness was as important an event in cosmic history as its natal big bang.

Read Is Consciousness Fundamental?. Then read Carlos Otal’s comments in this blog, as seen here and wonder is Resurrection fundamental to any image. Is every non-faked image not steeped in miraculous occurrence?

This is a Bing Translation of Carlos’s comment. I’m sorry, it is the best I have:

a-Yannick CONFUSES readers:

-To the Rogers proposal be scientific, the Maillard reaction would have been interrupted suddenly by the withdrawal or the theft of the corpse of Jesus within 36-48 hours of their stay in the Sepulchre.

-Not be interrupted abruptly the Maillard reaction, "image" would have been a great spot report by the action of the products of the decay and PUTREFACTION of the body of Jesus.

(b)-Yannick is confused:

-Yannick said to admit the resurrection of Jesus, the "dematerialization" of the body of Jesus within 36-48 hours of their stay in the Sepulchre.

-Yannick says to support the supernatural interruption of the reaction of Maillard (reaction proposed by Rogers).

-The hypothesis of a supernatural interruption of the reaction of Maillard is not scientific.

c Yannick must learn to be consistent.

-Rogers hypothesis is scientific if the Maillard reaction is interrupted by a NATURAL environment.

[what does not mean that is true]

-Yannick hypothesis is not scientific (interruption of the resurrection by Maillard reaction).

d-the shroud being one object PHYSICIST REAL, all scientific to study the possible effects on the shroud of "chemical" reactions (be Rogers or is Garlaschelli, etc.) or reactions "physical" (or Fanti, Di Lazzaro, Antoacci that was), it will be a good scientist or will be an evil scientist because of the methodology applied, not because of their religious beliefs.Every scientist, believer or unbeliever, knows that NO there is no physical or chemical energy that can RESURRECT the dead.

Carlos Otal

For the first part of this posting, we note that V.V. Raman appears with David Chalmers, John Searle,Marilyn Schlitz, Paul Davies, and Andrei Linde in “Is Consciousness Fundamental?” the 37th episode in the Closer to Truth: Cosmos, Consciousness, God TV series.The series airs on PBS World (often Thursdays, twice) and many other PBS and noncommercial stations. Every Friday, participants discuss a recent episode.

For the second part, we note that Carlos Otal is an important regular reader of this blog

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Higgs Boson and Religion and Science

July 7, 2012 6 comments

imagePhilip Clayton, philosopher and theologian, asks in the Huffington Post Does the Higgs Boson Discovery Resolve the Religion-Science Debate? Colbert’s response is priceless:

The perfect example of this debate was played out in a Colbert interview with Lawrence Krauss recently; it’s worth re-watching in the wake of the Higgs. Krauss, the New Atheist, touts his new book, "A Universe from Nothing." There are three kinds of nothing, he insists, and according to the laws of quantum mechanics, each one left to itself will produce the something that we see around us. "It sounds like the ultimate free lunch," Krauss admits, but there you have it; it’s just science. "The universe is more remarkable than the fairy tales that were talked about by Bronze Age illiterate peasants."

"Why does it have to be an attack on my God?" Colbert asks. "There’s just no evidence for God," replies Krauss, "All I’ve said is that you don’t need Him." Colbert, as always, gets the last word, however. Suppose that something always comes from nothing. "If there is no God, no ‘thing’ called God, if He is nothing," concludes Colbert, then by your own theory "can’t something come from Him?"

When they announced the discovery of physics’ most elusive particle this week, scientists didn’t overreach. They just did damn good science. The fans and the foes of religion, by contrast, are overreaching on both sides. The quest for the Higgs boson, and its ultimate discovery, neither proves nor disproves God.

Yes, do watch the Colbert interview with Lawrence Krauss

Categories: Off Topic, Science

Atheism Lacks Humility, Imagination and Curiosity

June 22, 2012 3 comments

imageINTERESTING: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie writes in the Huffington Post What Atheism Lacks: Humility, Imagination, Curiosity:

As standards of living improve, religious belief will give way to atheism, and atheism’s victory over religion will be complete by 2038. So argues Nigel Barber, writing on June 5 in the Science section of the Huffington Post.

Relying on what he calls the "existential security hypothesis," Barber claims that people turn to religion to calm the fears and insecurities caused by economic deprivation. But once their basic needs are assured and they are protected from early death by violence or disease, they become more secure in their daily lives and their need for religion fades.

Mr. Barber professes to offer proof for his thesis, most of it drawn from his own writings; although many HuffPost readers liked what he had to say, I did not find it convincing. My reaction can be divided into three parts.

It is worth reading: What Atheism Lacks: Humility, Imagination, Curiosity

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Quotation for Today

June 14, 2012 4 comments

Professor Dan Scavone, renowned historian, someone familiar to all shroud scholars, sends along the following quotation to those of us who depend on quotations found with Google:

The problem with quotes on the Internet is the difficulty of verifying their authenticity.
                                                                                            – Abraham Lincoln

Categories: Off Topic

New Email Capability Added to the Blog

June 3, 2012 Comments off

imageI’m trying something new. Effective immediately, if you receive email notification of comments and new postings, you will be able to comment and reply by responding to the email as with listserv systems. You will also be able to comment in the blog exactly as before. Let’s see what happens.

Categories: Off Topic

Late Night at the Church Of The Holy Sepulchre

June 1, 2012 Comments off

imageDaniela Berretta in the Huffington Post:

JERUSALEM — After the last tourists leave the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City at nightfall, a little-known but centuries-old tradition unfolds at one of Christianity’s holiest sites.

Clerics from the three largest denominations represented in the church – Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic – gather each night for special prayers reserved for the men who take care of the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

More: Church Of The Holy Sepulchre Comes Alive At Night In Jerusalem

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Do Christians Misunderstand Heaven?

May 18, 2012 3 comments

imageThe Huffington Post is carrying an interesting Religion News Service article by John Murawski, N.T. Wright Asks: Have Christians Gotten Heaven All Wrong?:

[S]cholars on the right and left increasingly say that comforting belief in an afterlife has no basis in the Bible and would have sounded bizarre to Jesus and his early followers. Like modern curators patiently restoring an ancient fresco, scholars have plumbed the New Testament’s Jewish roots to challenge the pervasive cultural belief in an otherworldly paradise.

The most recent expert to add his voice to this chorus is the prolific Christian apologist N.T. Wright, a former Anglican bishop who now teaches about early Christianity and New Testament at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews. Wright has explored Christian misconceptions about heaven in previous books, but now devotes an entire volume, "How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels," to this trendy subject.

Wright’s insistence that Christianity has got it all wrong seems to mark a turning point for the serious rethinking of heaven. He’s not just another academic iconoclast bent on debunking Christian myths. Wright takes his creeds very seriously and has even written an 800-plus-page megaton study setting out to prove the historical truth of the resurrection of Jesus.

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Krauss: I don’t really give a damn what "nothing" means to philosophers; I care about the "nothing" of reality."

April 30, 2012 7 comments

imageDawkins seems to be on my radar since David Rolfe’s Shroud of Turin challenge to him. This article, Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete? by Ross Andersen in Atlantic caught my attention:

In January, Lawrence Krauss [pictured], a theoretical physicist and Director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University, published A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, a book that, as its title suggests, purports to explain how something—and not just any something, but the entire universe—could have emerged from nothing, the kind of nothing implicated by quantum field theory. But before attempting to do so, the book first tells the story of modern cosmology, whipping its way through the big bang to microwave background radiation and the discovery of dark energy. It’s a story that Krauss is well positioned to tell; in recent years he has emerged as an unusually gifted explainer of astrophysics. One of his lectures has been viewed over a million times on YouTube and his cultural reach extends to some unlikely places—last year Miley Cyrus came under fire when she tweeted a quote from Krauss that some Christians found offensive. Krauss’ book quickly became a bestseller, drawing raves from popular atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, the latter of which even compared it to The Origin of Species for the way its final chapters were supposed to finally upend "last trump card of the theologian."

I haven’t read the book, but I have added it to my ‘when I get some time’ list. There is a good interview by Andersen with Krause in this article. I like Krause’s answers in that they seem honest. That doesn’t mean I agree. Here is a snippet:

Read more…

Categories: Books, Off Topic, Science

And I don’t like P. Z. Myers, Either

April 29, 2012 2 comments

imagePart of P.Z. Myers Sunday Sacrilege: Sacking the City of God in his blog Pharyngula. I guess if you are a Christian and take classes from this guy at the University of Minnesota, Morris, it’s a good idea to keep your faith to yourself:

Now wait, there might be some people saying (not anyone here, of course) that that’s no fair. Maybe you’re a liberal Christian, and I’m picking on the extremists (although, when we’re talking about roughly half the United States being evolution-denying, drill-baby-drill, apocalypse-loving christians, it’s more accurate to say I’m describing a representative sample). Perhaps you’re a moderate, you support good science, education, and the environment, you just love Jesus or Mohammed, too.

I’m sorry, but I don’t like you.

Do read the whole thing if you want to get an idea about this guy (right in picture) who is now outpacing Richard Dawkins (left with jacket) on the internet.

Categories: Off Topic

Imagine that there really is a supreme being

April 18, 2012 3 comments

UPDATE:  See An Email from David Rolfe to the Shroud Science Group

imageThis silly letter, along with an appeal to subscribe to Free Inquiry magazine, has been received by at least one university library, a seminary and the residents of a retirement/nursing home. The seminary library already has a subscription to the popular Atheist magazine.


Dear Friend,

Just for a moment, imagine that there really is a supreme being who created all things, including the human race. Would he (or she or it) give you such a highly developed brain and then punish you for using it?

Would the most advanced life-form in the universe devise such grand concepts as DNA, nuclear fusion, and quantum mechanics and then spend all eternity fussing about whether you regularly sing to him, vote against gay marriage, or accept on faith that Earth is only 6,000 years old when there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary?

Frankly, I don’t believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful creator. But even if I did, I’m certain he would want us to think for ourselves and eschew such claptrap.

He would be committed to the application of reason and encourage scientific discovery and the cultivation of moral excellence. He would want us to be more concerned about living a valuable life than enforcing arbitrary rules to avoid a vindictive punishment in an afterlife.

And in my opinion, he would undoubtedly want you to read FREE INQUIRY. Why? Because let’s face it … a guy that smart wouldn’t want to spend eternity with anyone dull enough to blindly believe in him!

So maybe, just maybe, FREE INQUIRY is your ticket to salvation. If not spiritual salvation in a mythical afterlife, then certainly intellectual salvation in this life.

Richard Dawkins

Categories: Off Topic

A million people to see Jesus’ Holy Robe

April 17, 2012 19 comments

imageAccording to Vatican Insider:

Over the next four weeks, around a million German Christians will be travelling to Trier to admire the "Heiliger Rock", or the Holy Robe: one of the most important relics in German Christendom, that Jesus supposedly wore before being crucified. Stephan Ackermann, the Bishop of Trier – Karl Marx’s home city – has decided that the robe will be put on display for the eighteenth time in its history, until 13 May.

According to legend, Helena – the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine – brought the seamless garment to Germany, while the first documentary evidence to mention the relic’s presence in Trier dates back to 1196. Meanwhile, Prüm Abbey has the sandals that belonged to Christ. These, together with the Holy Robe and many other relics venerated by the Catholic world, attracted the scorn of Martin Luther, who referred to them as "junk".

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Palm Sunday

April 1, 2012 7 comments


"Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem" by Hippolyte Flandrin

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Administrative Note: Email Address Change

March 24, 2012 1 comment

Please note that I am changing my email address. The old one will continue to work for about three months. My wife and I are relocating to the Hilton Head area this summer and I can’t take my local ISP email address with me.  This new one works pretty much here and there and everywhere. image

Categories: Off Topic

Pope 2 You Tweet

February 23, 2012 Comments off

imageCathy Lynn Grossman writes in USA Today:

Take a chirpy approach to Lent. Pope Benedict XVI has begun tweeting daily for the season of repentance leading up to Easter, according to Vatican Radio.

Here’s an RT:

@Pope2YouVatican: BXVI: The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity. #Lent

Benedict, the first pope to tweet, started on Twitter last June with a 140-character shout out to Jesus.

Source: Vatican tweets pope’s message daily for Lent

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday

February 21, 2012 Comments off

From A Reluctant Sinner:

. . . Pope Pius XII decreed in 1958 that the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus was to be kept on the day before Ash Wednesday, commonly known as Shrove Tuesday. Of course, the devotion to the Holy Face is an ancient one, which has been observed by many saints since the earliest centuries, St Thérèse of Lisieux (also known as St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face) being the most well-known. It is also a feast that, despite the efforts of some liturgical ‘reformers’, is still kept in many dioceses throughout the world, including Rome.
The most recent Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus for Shrove Tuesday was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1986 . . .

imageShrove Tuesday is variously known in different traditions and among different peoples as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras (French speaking), Máirt Inide (Irish), Fastnacht Day (Pennsylvania Dutch and other German communities), Carnival (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian), Terça-feira Gorda (Portuguese), Malasada Day (Hawaian), Fastelavn (Danish), Sprengidagur (Islandic) Užgavėnės (Lithuanian), Pączki Day (Polish American).

But throughout England, North America and in particular among Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran traditions, Shrove Tuesday is Pancake Day. If I don’t make the connection, someone else will.

Categories: News & Views, Off Topic

Canterbury Jazz Mass at Trinity Wall Street

February 19, 2012 Comments off

imageOFF TOPIC:  Sunday’s 11:15 mass at my parish church, Trinity Wall Street in Manhattan, will be unusual. Today, Theodicy Jazz Collective will join Renée Louprette and the Trinity Choir in presenting the Canterbury Jazz Mass. Theodicy is a group of musicians who regularly lead the music at St. Paul and St. James Episcopal Church in New Haven, Connecticut. During Lent, the ensemble will lead a series of stories and jazz meditations called “Blessed are the Peacemakers," every Sunday, 4:30pm-5:30pm, at St. Paul’s Chapel. The peacemakers featured are Mahatma Gandhi, Wangari Maathai, Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, and Nelson Mandela.

St. Paul’s Chapel, just a few blocks up Broadway, is part of Trinity Church. It is most famously known as the miracle church, the church that didn’t collapse as the Twin Towers collapsed all about it on 9/11, the church where firemen and rescuers slept and ate and mended their spirits in the pews day after day for weeks.

imageTrinity – everyone who ever goes to the movies has seen pictures of my parish church at the top of Wall Street – on most Sundays is very traditional Anglican-Episcopalian; a bit on the high side with high mass every Sunday, clouds of incense smoke, lots of chanting and glorious classical music. A Jazz Mass will be fun; Tuesday is Mardi Gras, after all.

imageThe full service will be professionally webcast live at 11:15. It will also be available at any time after that for on-demand viewing. Click here to watch or just sample some of the mass and its music.

Pictured: Trinity at the top of Wall Street, inside of Trinity, Trinity’s webcasting control room.

Categories: Off Topic

Details, just in case you wanted to know

February 18, 2012 2 comments

imageI changed out the widget for the top 3 most popular postings with something I call Keepers, which is manually maintained. For now it is the Home Page, Kelly’s posting and Akiane’s Jesus posting that runs all by itself and has 410 comments with new ones daily.

Colin Berry suggested that I add a most recent comments widget. I have; scroll down to see it.

When you comment for the first time, I must approve the comment. After that you should be able to comment at will and your comments should appear instantly. Sometimes that doesn’t work. There are things that you can do that cause the comment to be flagged, like using the phrase Rolex Watches or inserting three of four links. I don’t have control over this, so please be patient. I try to get to comments a few times per day.

If you use comments on a particular posting, they will appear. Emailed comments may never appear, particularly if I’m busy. But send emails anyway. I read all of them.

Special postings are always welcome. In addition to Kelly’s, I have carried special postings by John Jackson and Giulio Fanti.

Categories: Off Topic

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 540 other followers

%d bloggers like this: