Maria da Glória’s Comment on Mark Oxley’s Letter Promoted

Maria da Glória of the CENTRO PORTUGUÊS DE SINDONOLOGIA writes:

As a modest Shroud researcher I can’t help comment, Dr Mark Oxley’s post is just brilliant it´s the kind of explanation that summarizes crystal clear all reliable scientific information on the controversy of 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, so there is almost nothing left to add nevertheless I´ll remember one more fact Dr.J. Timothy Jull apparently has neglected.

Let alone all microscopic and chemical aspects the late Dr Raymond Rogers pointed out in his paper, he noticed spliced threads in material from the Raes sample and this finding was later confirmed in a study by Dr Robert Villareal and his team from Los Alamos National Laboratory presented at Ohio Shroud Conference held in Columbus 2008.

Dr Thibault Heimburger by contrast phase micoscopic studies in remaining material from radiocarbon sampling area,also confirmed the presence of threads where dyed cotton fibers were spliced to linen fibers.

I utterly disagree with William, Skeptics Dictionary has nothing worth reading about the Shroud of Turin and Mr. Joe Nickell’s assertions on Shroud matters are always biased by an atheis point of view.

Mr Joe Nickell is not a scientist so he has not the right to criticize from a technical point of view Dr Raymond Rogers’ paper which was published in a peer reviewed scientific journal and Dr.Raymond Rogers was absolutely honest stating that Dr Luigi Gonella provided him the radiocarbon threads.

ost information about the Shroud on so called skeptic websites is completely misleading and nothing but utter bogus.

Dr Mark Oxley’s book «The Callenge of the Shroud» is truly one of the best easy ways to get reliable and updated information on the Shroud of Turin.

Hystorical information provided is fantastic and it was a great pleasure reading this book.

My sincere congratulations to Dr Mark Oxley for his book and his post.

I wish all Shroud of Turin blogger’s a HAPPY NEW YEAR

Maria da Glória
CENTRO PORTUGUÊS DE SINDONOLOGIA

Comment to Outstanding Response to Recent Carbon Dating Paper « Shroud of Turin Blog

Maybe this is how we should be explaining the Shroud of Turin

imageSo sayeth Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists.

From what I’ve seen so far, as long as the tax incentives are available evenly and equally to all takers, whether it’s an atheist museum or a pornography park, I have no cause to gripe.

The Atheist Museum might work somewhere but not in Kentucky. But, Mr. Kagin, they are talking about 900 jobs not 900 visitors. Pornography park? There you go Mr. Kagin, making sense.

There have been complaints because the Noah’s Ark Park is eligible for $37 million in tax incentive from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority because it will create new jobs.

According the MSNBC:

Protests over the nonprofit Creation Museum’s “recent origin” doctrine, including the belief that people co-existed with dinosaurs after God created the Earth about 6,000 years ago and that scripture trumps science when the two disagree, haven’t hurt attendance, the ministry [of the Creation Museum] says.

Projected to draw 250,000 people a year, attendance has instead topped 1 million in the first three years, it says.

“The proof is in the pudding; the Creation Museum is a success,” Zovath said, who predicts that the Ark Encounter also will exceed expectations.

I’m no creationists. I’d like to see an evolution park. That makes sense to me. Either way, the tax incentives make sense. Maybe this is how we should be explaining the Shroud of Turin.

Just kidding.

Outstanding Response to Recent Carbon Dating Paper

imageMark Oxley has spent over three years carrying out detailed research on the history of the Shroud of Turin and on the scientific studies that have been carried out on it. A scientist by training with an avid interest in both classical and mediaeval history, he has used both disciplines to carry out an in-depth review of the current state of knowledge about the Shroud.

Over the years he has followed the scientific debate on the Shroud and particularly the controversy over its radio-carbon dating. It was this controversy in particular and some of the hypotheses that arose from it that eventually led to his decision to carry out further research and write his own outstanding book on the subject of the Shroud. (Amazon.com). It is a privilege to publish, here, his comments on the recent paper discussed below.

With Permission

INITIALLY ADDRESSED TO THE SHROUD SCIENCE GROUP

Dear Researchers

Over the Christmas period I have taken the opportunity to read the recent paper in Radiocarbon, "Investigating a Dated Piece of the Shroud of Turin", by Timothy Jull and Rachel Freer-Waters.   I have also re-read papers by Joe Marino and Sue Benford, Ray Rogers and John Brown that describe examinations of the Raes threads, the area where the radiocarbon samples were taken from and a radiocarbon sample itself from the Shroud that clearly show substantial contamination, as well as the 1989 paper by Danon et al, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin", of which Jull was one of the co-authors.   Finally I also had a look at Bill Meacham’s 1986 paper "Radiocarbon Measurement and the Age of the Turin Shroud:  Possibilities and Uncertainties".

In 2002 Ray Rogers and Anna Arnoldi published a paper "Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin:  A Review" which not only describes chemical characteristics of the Raes threads but also a photographic examination of the area from where the radiocarbon samples were taken.   It also gives very clear and well thought out guidelines to proper scientific thinking.   The paper describes the presence of cotton in a Raes sample (also reported by Jull in his radiocarbon sample) and explains that cotton was almost unknown in Europe until 1350.   This would suggest that if the Shroud material dates to before 1350, as even the radiocarbon dating shows is likely, it cannot be of European origin.   It also describes how Rogers’ examination of the Shroud cloth showed that it had been produced using technology in use before the advent of large-scale bleaching and that this indicated a pre-mediaeval age for the Shroud.   Rogers extended his work to a chemical examination of threads that had been taken from a radiocarbon sample before it was distributed for dating.   He received these from Prof Luigi Gonella, who had taken them at the time the samples were cut from the Shroud.   In his paper "Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin", published in Thermochimica Acta in 2005, Rogers describes chemical characteristics of Shroud fibres which indicate that it is considerably older than 700 years.   He also describes a gum/dye/mordant coating on Raes and radicarbon sample yarns that he says is "easy to observe" and states that the radiocarbon sample has been dyed.   The gum he describes as being water-soluble and easily-hydrolysed and says that it would have been removed completely by the cleaning procedures used on the dated samples.

I personally find Ray Rogers’ work utterly convincing.   He describes in great detail the tests he carried out, the results he obtained and the conclusions he reached.   His findings of impurities on the Raes threads is supported by a microscopic examination of Raes threads by John Brown, a retired research scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.   Brown’s paper "Microscopical Investigation of Selected Raes Threads from the Shroud of Turin", published in 2005, includes photographs that clearly show encrustations on the threads.   Rogers’ work has shown that the Raes threads and the radiocarbon sample had similar chemical characteristics with regard to contamination.

Joe Marino and Sue Benford, in their paper "Discrepancies in the Radiocarbon Dating Area of the Turin Shroud", published in Chemistry Today in 2008, describe the results of an unpublished study carried out by STURP in 1978 as well as further analysis of Raes threads and a radiocarbon sub-sample from the Zurich laboratory, all of which provide additional evidence of contamination of the radiocarbon sample.

Jull dismisses all of this without any explanation and claims that those removing the samples for dating in 1988 were aware of repair material.   As the suggestion that the samples were taken from an area where there was an invisible 16th century patch was only made in 2000, this is hardly likely.   As the suggested patch was specifically made to be invisible to the naked eye, this make Jull’s assertion even more unlikely.

Jull states that his tests were carried out on fibres taken from a fragment remaining from the carbon-14 study in 1988.  He states further that his sample is a fragment cut on the arrival of the Arizona carbon-14 sample in Tucson on 24 April 1988 by himself, and that it has been in his custody continously.    At this point one has no alternative but to query the provenance of this fragment.

Damon et al reported that "Because it was not known to what degree dirt, smoke or other contaminants might affect the linen samples, all three laboratories subdivided the samples, and subjected the pieces to several different mechanical and chemical cleaning procedures."   The Arizona group split each sample (the Shroud sample and the control samples) into four subsamples.   These subsamples were then subjected to cleaning procedures described in detail by Damon et al.   These procedures would undoubtedly have removed the contaminants reported by Rogers.

One has therefore to ask the question, did Jull take his sample before or after the cleaning process?   Has he inadvertently used a cleaned fragment for his tests, which would of course totally invalidate his results.   The complete contrast between his results and those of Rogers, Marino and Benford, and Brown would suggest that this must be considered a possibility.   If his sample was in its original state, then the contrast between his results and those of other, equally reputable scientists defies explanation.   It cannot just be brushed away.

It is my intention to prepare a short paper giving more detail of the work to which I refer above, as a rebuttal of Jull’s paper.   I will post this in due course.

As a final note, it is worth referring to the exact match between the bloodstains on the Sudarium of Oviedo and the image on the Shroud, which was referred to in the documentary The Real Face of Jesus and which is described in detail by G H Moreno et al in their paper "Comparative Study of the Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin" presented to the Third International Congress for the Study of the Shroud of Turin in 1998.   As the Sudarium has a recorded history of some 1 300 years, this is further evidence of a pre-mediaeval date for the Shroud.

Best wishes

Mark

The Power from Below and Far Above

imageWilliam Easterly posted this on Aid Watch on Christmas Eve. The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University’s Development Research Institute (DRI). William Easterly is a Professor of Economics at NYU and author of The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics and The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

Caesar Augustus was the greatest Emperor of the greatest Empire. He could force the  whole population to move back to their ancestors’ villages just to pay their taxes. Herod was governor of Judea, a backward province that Caesar likely paid little or no attention. Herod could order a massacre of all children under the age of two in Bethlehem, without having to appear before the International Criminal Court.

Yet history would later show that the most powerful person in the world that night was a newborn infant, conceived out of wedlock to a peasant girl, born in a manger.

Is this story of any interest to non-Christians? Is it historically accurate? I don’t know, but I think it’s a great story. It’s a story of transformative power that comes not from the Palace up above, but from the Manger down below.

Not to mention that the power from the manger is from God far above the palace.

Of course, being an NYU site, there were any number of intellectual humbugs picking up on the historical accuracy. Let me echo what Easterly said. It’s a great story of transformative power.

Power from the Manger

Merry Christmas from the Shroud of Turin Blog

merrychristmas

The Shroud of Turin and The New Testament

imageThe blogger of dreams and phase transitions: Thoughts on reality’s strange edge finds the correspondence of the Shroud to the New Testament puzzling:

One thing that puzzles me is that the body and the wounds on it correspond exactly to the Jesus we read of in the New Testament.  I find it hard to believe that the oral reports, which turned into familiar stories passed down a generation or two, would have remembered every detail of the condition of the body, so that the shroud and the New Testament fit together like a lock and key.  That’s the sort of thing that you would think could only come about through intention, right?

So do I. But I hadn’t given it much thought or thought of it this way.

Full article: dreams and phase transitions: Religious Mysteries — The Shroud of Turin

A Christmas Gift from the International Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images

imageA Christmas gift from Paolo Di Lazzaro: Thirty six papers from thirty different authors:

PROCEEDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON THE SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO THE ACHEIROPOIETOS IMAGES

Note that these papers are in pdf format. I have been able to save them to a thumb drive but I cannot print them. If you need printed copies you can order a book of the proceedings.

Lincoln Tunnel’s Newest Billboard

A new sign, posted by the very large, non-denominational Times Square Church has replaced the the previous Atheist Christmas theme sign. I sort of like this new word cloud sign.

image

More About Jull’s Paper in Radiocarbon Journal

Giulio Fanti writes:

imageIn reference to the paper on the TS (Turin Shroud) just published in the Radiocarbon Journal, there are very few news from my point of view. In fact I had the occasion to perform a parallel study and I know that there is not so much additional material physically visible on the TS linen fibers to explain a significant variation in the resulting date.

Instead, in agreement with a statistical study recently published (London School of Economics Site), and in agreement with a new chemical study in publication, from a Spanish University, I am convinced that there is a non negligible chemical contamination of the cellulose contained in the TS linen fibers. This contamination could be responsible for the variation of many centuries in the resulting date.

In addition, we must remember that the body image of the Turin Shroud has not yet explained by science and many hypotheses for this explanation make reference to a burst of energy. Therefore we are not able to define which ambient factor could have interacted with the TS linen. This is in contrast with one of the Libby’s postulates (he was the C-14 method inventor) for the radiocarbon dating and therefore every radiocarbon result relative

Questions About Arizona’s Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin

A reader writes:

The unintended consequence of Jull’s attempt to defend the 1988 work done by Arizona will be the opposite of what he hoped for. Yesterday’s questions become new again. Did the lab combine results as widely believed? Did the lab not report all of their measurements? Why hasn’t the lab, even after all these years, revealed all of the test results for each subsample?

What sample “split from one used” in 1988 are we talking about? How many other bits and pieces of shroud material does Arizona have tucked away? What really went on in Arizona?

This paper can do nothing but remind us of why the 1988 carbon dating of the shroud must be considered invalid. The evidence of cotton and dyestuff is overwhelming, Jull’s failure to find it not withstanding.

Absence of Evidence

Do you remember when Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” He was trying to justify his belief that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As strange as it may seem, the maxim is an example of itself. If you go to newspaper archives you might think the maxim is from 2002. But if you do a bit of research you see that Carl Sagan, who most often gets the credit for the maxim in scientific circles, used those words in 1995 in The Demon-Haunted World. But history goes back more than that. In 1972, Richard Berendzen, the chairman of a conference of scientists (including Sagan) meeting to discuss the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, attributed the maxim to the great British cosmologist Martin Rees. And, yes, Rees had used words to that effect a few years earlier. Actually, the English writer William Cowper (1731-1800) had written something very similar. He wrote “Absence of proof is not proof of absence.”

Why is this important? For two reasons. It demonstrates how any of us, from time to time, may not have a good handle on all the relevant facts. But more importantly, it is to stress how important this maxim is thought to be in science, in history, in law, in just about any endeavor.

imageThis is the wording of an abstract, published today, in Radiocarbon, a scientific journal of the University of Arizona. The authors are Rachel A Freer-Waters and A J Timothy Jull (pictured).

We present a photomicrographic investigation of a sample of the Shroud of Turin, split from one used in the radiocarbon dating study of 1988 at Arizona. In contrast to other reports on less-documented material, we find no evidence to contradict the idea that the sample studied was taken from the main part of the shroud, as reported by Damon et al. (1989). We also find no evidence for either coatings or dyes, and only minor contaminants.  

Now how does Jim West read this and explain it over at his blog, Zwinglius Redivivus? Like this:

The fraudulent ‘Shroud of Turin’ has been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt to be a medieval forgery.  Poor Witherington and the others who continue to assert its authenticity. What will they do now?

That is Ben Witherington, by-the-way, a prominent, highly regarded Protestant theologian. I think Ben will see through this ever-so-obvious fallacy. It is sort of like drawing a single M&M from a package, not seeing red and declaring that there are no red M&Ms.

What about John Brown’s confirmation of Ray Rogers work? Can that be ignored simply because the folks in Arizona didn’t find anything similar? What about the confirmation of Rogers’ findings provided by Bob Villarreal and several other chemist from Los Alamos? What about the robust statistical analysis published on the London School of Economics site that shows that the cloth samples are non-homogeneous? Is this to be ignored?

Remi Van Haelst, a retired industrial chemist in Belgium, noted that the results failed to meet minimum statistical standards (chi-squared tests).  He asked why the wide variance in the dates between samples. Was it because of testing errors? Or was it because the sample was not sufficiently homogeneous? Bryan Walsh, a statistician, examined Van Haelst’s analysis and further studied the measurements. He concluded that the divided samples used in multiple tests contained different levels of the C14 isotope. The overall cut sample was non-homogeneous and thus of questionable validity. Walsh found a significant relationship between the measured age of various sub-samples and their distance from the edge of the cloth. Though Walsh did not suggest invisible reweaving, it is consistent with his findings.

Giovanni Riggi, the person who actually cut the carbon 14 sample from the Shroud stated, "I was authorized to cut approximately 8 square centimetres of cloth from the Shroud…This was then reduced to about 7 cm because fibres of other origins had become mixed up with the original fabric …" Should this be ignored?

Giorgio Tessiore, who documented the sampling, wrote:  “…1 cm of the new sample had to be discarded because of the presence of different color threads.” Should this be ignored?

Edward (Teddy) Hall, head of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory, had noticed fibers that looked out of place. A laboratory in Derbyshire concluded that the rogue fibers were cotton of “a fine, dark yellow strand.”  Derbyshire’s Peter South wrote: “It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past…” Can this be ignored?

Gilbert Raes, when later he examined some of the carbon 14 samples, noticed that cotton fibers were contained inside the threads. This, of course, Villarreal and his team confirmed.

Alan Adler at Western Connecticut State University found large amounts of aluminum in yarn segments from the radiocarbon sample, up to 2% by energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. Why aluminum? That was an important question because it was also possible evidence of dying. Alum is a common mordant.

Are we to draw our conclusions based on found evidence or like Donald Rumsfeld on evidence not found.

There will be more on this subject soon.

Worldwide Showing of The Real Face of Jesus (Updated)

imageReports are still coming in that The Real Face of Jesus will be shown at Christmas just about everywhere in the world. Here is a list of countries we have heard about so far: US, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, etc.

Here are some times we know about for Christmas Day for the showing of this very important Shroud of Turin special: In the U.S. you can watch the documentary on History, Christmas 10 pm ET, 9 pm CT, 8 pm MT and 10 pm PT (but check local schedules). Australia and New Zealand, 6:30 AM. Zimbabwe and southern Africa on the History Channel, through the South African satellite TV service DStV, at 8.30 pm in Zimbabwe (6.30 pm GMT) on Christmas Day.

New Information: It will be shown on Christmas Day at 8AM in HK, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia.   In Thailand it will be shown 1 hour earlier.  (Hat tip Rebecca Jackson)

Check schedules for your part of the world through these links:

Continue reading “Worldwide Showing of The Real Face of Jesus (Updated)”

The Contagious Transcendence: Christmas Truce of WWI

imageSteven and Michael Meloan who wrote, The Shroud (available in paperback and Kindle ebook) have an interesting Christmastide op-ed in The Huffington Post:

A mysterious peace swept across the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914.

The Western Front, during World War I, was a system of trenches lined by wooden posts and barbed wire, stretching nearly 500 miles from the North Sea coast, south to the Swiss border. Typically, soldiers were only separated by 70 yards of "no man’s land," so close they could hear enemy voices in the lull between sniper fire and artillery rounds. Weather at the end of 1914 was brutal, relentless freezing rain had turned the trenches into a numbing river of mud. The first year of the war had already claimed roughly a million soldiers.

By Christmas Eve, British troops had received "Princess Mary Boxes," tins containing chocolates, butterscotch, cigarettes, tobacco and a picture card of Princess Mary. German troops each received a large meerschaum pipe, and fine cigars for the officers. As darkness fell, fighting along the entire front mysteriously dwindled, until finally there was profound silence. According to letters from soldiers, some German infantrymen had received tiny tennenbaum trees, and began decorating them with candles and placing them on the parapet amid the barbed wire. The British were captivated by the twinkling lights appearing along the trenches. Then they heard faint singing, Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. The melody was unmistakable. Some of the Brits began to sing along in English. Then Christmas greetings were shouted back and forth. Finally, a few brave soldiers arose from the trenches with offerings of food and tobacco. Before long, no man’s land was filled with soldiers greeting one another, exchanging food, trading buttons from their uniforms, and showing pictures of loved ones. Sometimes a stuffed sandbag served as a soccer ball, and impromptu games began with jackets marking the goals. Festivities and camaraderie lasted all through Christmas day.

Steven and Michael Meloan: Contagious Transcendence–The Christmas Truce of 1914

Now this would be a top religious story of the year

imageAn Episcopalian reader writes in relation to the previous posting:

So my question is when will we see The Right Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori wearing HER bishop’s mitre and carrying HER crosier while participating in Roman Catholic masses?

No time soon, I imagine. And it’s The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, which is proper for an archbishop even though the title Presiding Bishop is used in the United States.

My other question is what does this have to do with the shroud?

Directly? Nothing. In the long run I hope everything. I have faith that the Shroud of Turin has ecumenical implications.

Top Ten Religion Stories of 2010

imageIt’s interesting that Kevin Eckstrom’s article in the Huffington Post, For Top Religion Stories Of 2010, A Major Case Of Déjà vu, was illustrated with this picture of Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, with Pope Benedict XVI because it highlights the fact that the pope’s visit to England wasn’t even mentioned.

We’ve come a long way since Henry VIII. Williams has even worn his bishop’s mitre and carried his crosier while participating in Roman Catholic masses.

Worldwide Showing of The Real Face of Jesus

imageReports are coming in that The Real Face of Jesus will be shown at Christmas just about everywhere in the world. Here is a list of countries we have heard about so far: US, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, etc.

Here are some times we know about for Christmas Day for the showing of this very important Shroud of Turin special: In the U.S. you can watch the documentary on History, Christmas 10 pm ET, 9 pm CT, 8 pm MT and 10 pm PT (but check local schedules). Australia and New Zealand, 6:30 AM. Zimbabwe and southern Africa on the History Channel, through the South African satellite TV service DStV, at 8.30 pm in Zimbabwe (6.30 pm GMT) on Christmas Day.

Check schedules for your part of the world through these links:

North America: Canada | United States

Latin America: Argentina | Bolivia | Brasil | Chile | Colombia | Costa Rica | Ecuador | El Salvador | Guatemala | Honduras | México | Nicaragua | Panamá | Paraguay | Perú | Puerto Rico | República Dominicana | Uruguay | Venezuela

Europe: Austria | Belgium | Denmark | Finland | Germany | Greece | Iceland | Italy | The Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | United Kingdom/Ireland

Africa & Middle East: Israel | Middle East | South Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa | Turkey

Asia & Oceania: Australia | Indonesia | Japan | Korea | Malaysia | New Zealand | Southeast Asia | Thailand

iTunes:  You can also buy and download the full 1 hour and 28 minute video from Apple iTunes for $3.99. Apple iTunes is free for Windows and Mac computers. If you have the right cables and you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad, you can watch the video on a full-size television. You do not need to own a mobile device, however, to download the iTunes software and then watch the iTunes version of the Real Face of Jesus on your computer. Advantage: no commercials.

More on the History Channel’s “Real Face of Jesus?” on iTunes

imageI decided to try it. I downloaded the full hour and a half “Real Face of Jesus” on Apple iTunes for $3.99.  (You must install iTunes, which is free for Windows and Macs).

It took about twenty minutes to download.

The quality is excellent in full screen mode on my 21 inch computer screeen. I also put it on my iPhone which I connected to a 42 inch television. Again, excellent quality. Perhaps not exactly as good as the DVD but not enough that I notice.

Hallelujah–Thomas Casey in America: The National Catholic Weekly

imageAmerica: The National Catholic Weekly has an interesting article by the Jesuit scholar Thomas G. Casey, who is the director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies in Rome and professor of philosophy at the Gregorian University. He examines what is perhaps the most recognizable song of the past decade,  Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. (Below is the audio only YouTube of k.d. lang’s performance at this year’s Winter Olymics)

Consider this thought from Casey:

One reason that “Hallelujah” appeals is that it gives voice—and song—to the spiritual hunger of millions who find it difficult or impossible to identify with orthodox expressions of their longings. This song expresses their human fragility and their desire to be released from the shallowness of our age, which offers substandard spiritual fare. They search; they desire to reconnect with the transcendent, even though their search is often handicapped by an astonishing spiritual inarticulateness.

 

How did a song with so many biblical references (none of which refer to the New Testament) become ubiquitous? How did a lyrical, slow-moving tune become popular in an era when aggressive percussion and insistent drum-beats power pop songs? Why has the song been used to create atmosphere and mood in the soundtracks of many movies and TV shows? Why can’t people get enough of it? . . .

There is always a crack, even in the midst of profound suffering. At the beginning of “Hallelujah,” King David, the composer of psalms in praise of God, has happily discovered a secret chord with which to give God joy. But soon the king succumbs to temptation:

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof

You saw her bathing on the roof

Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.

The reference to David is mixed up with allusions to Samson and Delilah, as the song goes on to tell how

She broke your throne and she cut your hair.

. . . It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

When we find ourselves in desolation, we ask: How can we stay alive when we have kissed death? Is faith still possible? Has love lost its savor and sweetness? David, Samson and all of us are vulnerable, exposed to the chill of a spiritual wasteland. Yet we need not surrender to despair; instead, we can find our way forward to a new way of hoping and praising God, though one devoid of sugary sweetness and false romanticism. We no longer come before God with full arms, but only with empty hands:

And even though it all went wrong

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.

 

Full article: America Magazine

Picture of the Day: Christ and the Moon

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Total lunar eclipse of the moon and The Savior of The World in San Salvador, December 21, 2010.

Photograph by Jose Cabezas / AFP – Getty Images

The Nativity Story for a Modern Age

Watch this. It is quite good.

Pope’s World Day of the Sick Message

From Vatican Information Services:

imageMade public today was the Holy Father’s Message for the nineteenth World Day of the Sick which will be held, as is traditional, on 11 February, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Pope begins his Message by recalling his pastoral visit to the Italian city of Turin last May where, he writes, "I had the opportunity to pause in reflection and prayer before the Holy Shroud, before that suffering face which invites us to meditate upon the One Who took upon Himself the passion of mankind in all times and places, including our own sufferings, difficulties and sins".

VIS news – Holy See Press Office: POPE’S MESSAGE FOR THE WORLD DAY OF THE SICK

Another Intense Flash for the Shroud of Turin

Kathryn M. Cunningham writes over at Catholic.net:

imageI am fascinated by relics, the tangible remnant of people and situations that were holy. These are objects that actually touched or were part of miraculous situations and/or people, literally. One of my favorite relics to contemplate is the Shroud of Turin. Argument rages about whether the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of Christ, the sheet that actually wrapped His broken body when He was laid in the tomb. I have not the slightest doubt that it is real and part of that is because of my background as a person of science. I taught science for thirty-five years and loved it for longer than that. The whole “proof” for me lies in the information about the image; it is not paint, it is not dye, it does not soak through the cloth, it is not solid, it is made up of each of millions of individual fibers which are singed on their very tips with no other damage visible to the fiber itself. One expert, after receiving this information, pondered that this kind of image could have only been formed by an intense flash so fast and strong that would have equaled the atomic bomb! Boom, resurrection in a blinding light, that’s how the image was formed, my heart knows it’s real. My science teacher’s mind says; perfectly logical.

I may not have taught science, but I have a problem with this. To me it seems perfectly logical that anything so fast and strong the would have equaled the atomic bomb would have wiped out Jerusalem and any evidence of the Resurrection. Moreover, the information about the image does not mandate such an explanation. It could have been chemical.

Catholic.net – Catholics on the net