Shroud of Turin Talk in Scranton Area

imageIf you will be in the Scranton area on Monday, April 4th, the Women’s Guild at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Church, 624 Madison Avenue, Jermyn, will host a presentation on the Shroud of Turin at 7 p.m. Donald H. Nohs, an authority on the Shroud of Turin and the Passion of Christ will display a replica of the Shroud during his talk, and will discuss the cloth that is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

Not Your Father’s Philadelphia Inquirer

imageStrange that this op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 22, 2011 lacks a byline. It is so obviously personal opinion that it can’t be an editorial board piece. I looked, briefly, through the online index of stories in the religion sections of the paper. Every story I saw had an identified author except this one. “Dear Editor, who wrote this . . .”

The holiest day in Christendom approaches, and my little girl is anticipating coloring Easter eggs.

She doesn’t know from crucifixion or resurrection, and she has no clue of who Jesus, Judas, and Pilate were.

That’s because I never told her.

I force vegetables, reading, and baths. But not God.

As an agnostic, I haven’t figured out what to say. Of course, if it’s not cool to dictate faith, it’s not cool to dictate nonbelief, either.

. . .

Perhaps I could impress her with the suffering Jesus is said to have endured.

But then I’d have to add that people believed for centuries that the Shroud of Turin, said to be Jesus’ burial cloth, with an image of his face miraculously preserved on it, was a true artifact – until scientists in 1988 reported it to be inauthentic.

On the Web, some people say it’s negligent not to teach your children faith.

Others counter that it’s akin to “child abuse” to do so.

At least the mystery dad/author is asking questions. He has some of his facts wrong. But who doesn’t.  Kids and religion: A dad has questions – Philly.com

Crazy findings in the Shroud of Turin

The things people find in the Shroud of Turin besides the image of a man: coins, flowers and now this. Here is a clownish face in a burn mark. No, it is not the face of the man pictured on the shroud.

The photos below are of the Shroud of Turin, "borrowed" from the Holy Shroud Guild website.

imageimageIn them is a faint figure that is supposed by some to be the impression Jesus left on the Shroud when he came back to life in the tomb. Maybe yes. Maybe no. We have no comment on that.

To us, what is more noticeable and remarkable are the four faces next to the central figure’s sholders (sic) and knees. When we first saw photos of the Shroud, it was these faces that immediately leaped out at us. We saw the faint figure that is supposed to be Jesus only after somewhat closer inspection. It was not as obvious.

And this piece of brilliant insanity:

Our proof is in doubt – as is all irrationalogical proof. Our proof is imagined. Our proof is in rumors. There are no facts – except the fact that there is a Shroud of Turin, and the images of four faces appear in its burn marks. Look for the dada-ananda, and one is disillusioned. Our disillusionment confuses us. Our confusion liberates us to doubt everything. Doubting everything leads us to the falseness of truth. The falseness of truth is the beginning of imagination. The beginning of imagination is the threshold of madness. The threshold of madness returns us to ourselves.

imagining an irrationalogical proof of the dada-ananda | Facebook

More on “The Fallacy of God: A Religious Conspiracy”

Joe Marino wrote: “Speaking of fallacies, I wonder if anyone has put together a list of fallacious Shroud arguments against authenticity. A few immediately come to mind (with a little sarcasm thrown in here and there):

  • imageThere’s no way a cloth could have lasted that long. Therefore it must be a fake.
  • The Bible says that more than 1 cloth was used. The Shroud is only 1 cloth. Therefore it’s a hoax.
  • All relics are fakes. The Shroud is a relic. Therefore the Shroud is fake.
  • Leonardo was talented enough to produce the Shroud. Therefore he did it. (Never mind that the Shroud was around for about 100 years before he was born.
  • Enough was known about photography in the 14th century that the Shroud could have been produced by a photographic process. Therefore it was.
  • A bishop in the 14th century said he knew the artist that did it AND paint particles have been found on the Shroud. Therefore, it’s a painting.
  • I’ve read 1 or 2 newspaper articles that say it’s a fake and I agree. Even though I haven’t done any research, my opinion trumps those that say a few measly hundreds of thousands of hours of the best scientific research of the 20th and 21st century has failed to come up with a viable explanation.
  • The C-14 test gave results of AD 1260-1390. Even though only 1 questionable sample was taken, the putting of the samples into the tubes for the lab was the only part of the procedure not videotaped, and the reports of the sizes and weights of the samples kept changing, there’s no reason to doubt the validity of a test that’s often discarded because results are often affected by unknown factors.
  • ”I would enjoy seeing others add to this list,” adds Joe.

    Well, Joe, my favorites include:

  • imageJesus has short hair, according to the Bible. The man pictured on the shroud has shoulder length hair, so the shroud is a fake.
  • The man of the shroud looks Norwegian. Jesus was Jewish. Therefore the shroud is a fake.
  • Jesus was only five feet tall. We know this because everyone was only five feet tall in 33 AD. Since the man on the shroud is six feet tall, the shroud is a fake.
  • Everyone knows that Jesus was wrapped in linen strips just like a mummy. So the shroud can’t be real.

A Review: The Fallacy of God: A Religious Conspiracy « Shroud of Turin Blog

Shroud Inspired Agnosticism/ Belief / Doubt

imageIn early March I made note of a posting at Ex-Christian.net, A Shroud-Inspired Agnostic Point of View from an Ex-Christian. It was by someone who called himself or herself Slow Break.

Joe Marino also pointed out this article to me. “I thought what he/she had to say was pretty interesting,” he wrote.

I read it again. It is interesting. If you missed it before, read it now at ExChristian.Net: How the Shroud of Turin made me an Agnostic

And . . .

Did you know that the Shroud of Turin is mentioned three times in D. M. Thomas’ 1993 best selling novel, The White Hotel? Of course you did.

Here is a bit from the novel that seems to relate to what Slow Break was saying:

The heroine seeking to restore her weak faith decides to visit the Shroud. It didn’t work. Then a priest asks her, “But my child. Why should a relic — real or not — cause you to lose your faith?”

She answers, “No. You misunderstand. I am convinced the Shroud is real. But the man I saw is dead. He reminded me of pressed flowers.

Fired for doubting hell’s existence

Tom Breen of the Associated Press has an interesting article:

imageThe pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson.

. . .  About the only thing everyone agrees on is that this is not a new debate in Christianity. It stretches to antiquity, when Christianity was a persecuted sect in the Roman Empire, and the third century theologian Origen developed a theory that contemporary critics charged would mean that everyone, even the devil himself, would ultimately be saved. Church leaders eventually condemned ideas they attributed to Origen, but he has had a lasting influence across the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions.

Those traditions often disagree, even internally, on what awaits souls after death. The Catholic Church, which has a formal process for identifying souls in heaven through canonization, pointedly refrains from saying that anyone is without a doubt in hell. Protestants reject the concept of purgatory, in which sins can be atoned for after death, but disagree on other questions. The lack of consensus is enabled partly by ambiguities in the Bible.

Pastor loses job after doubting hell’s existence – US news – Life – msnbc.com

Kindle of The Shroud by Ian Wilson

imageThis recommendation popped up last night on Kindle Ebooks Shop and Review , March 23, 2011.

Two decades after radiocarbon dating declared the Turin Shroud a mediaeval fake, brand-new historical discoveries strongly suggest that this famous cloth, with its extraordinary photographic imprint, is genuinely Christ’s shroud after all.In 1978 in his international bestseller The Turin Shroud Ian Wilson ignited worldwide public debate with his compelling case endorsing the shroud’s authenticity. Now, 30 years later, he has completely rewritten and updated his earlier book

Here is a reader review from Timothy S. Jones:

. . . Ian Wilson is an excellent author, he is always even handed and credible in his approach. Of course he is well known to believe the shroud genuine, but he does not let that prevent him from being fair and reasonable, giving dissenting perspectives a respectful hearing. This book does recap his earlier writings on the shroud, but it also includes the last ten years worth of discoveries, and is the best place to start for someone just becoming interested in the subject, also a great way for those long interested in the shroud to get ‘up to speed’. A fascinating read!

I agree with Jones. The Kindle edition is priced at $9.99. See The Shroud — Kindle Ebooks Shop & Reviews

Shroud Exhibit and Museum in New Mexico

imageWow! Go check out SEAM Home Page

Tours
Group tours in English. To schedule tours in German & Spanish, contact Events or call (575) 446-2113.

Presentations at Your Location
Deacon Pete Schumacher, 1972 VP8 Production Engineer, is available to conduct . . .

About Us
Free Turin Shroud interactive exhibit at White Sands Mall, 3199 N White Sands Blvd, Suite D1, Alamogordo, NM, 88310. We offer a backlit, full-sized picture, the only interactive VP-8 Image Analyzer* 3D experience, NM Shroud research, etc. Our goal is make Turin Shroud available to all including the vision impaired.

Dissent of the Day Regarding Scrolls and Lead Codices from Remote Cave that Might be Early 1st Century Writings about Jesus–OR NOT

imageA reader writes: “Slow down! Remember your posting is from the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail! I think they are probably real but may not be Christian. They might be Kabbalistic material (Bar Kochba and Shimon bar Yochai writings).

David Davila at PaleoJudaica.com offers the following cautions:

We need the following for this supposed find to be shown to be a genuine collection of ancient books:
1. Publication in a scholarly journal of the metal analysis that shows the lead to be ancient.
2. Publication in a scholarly journal of the carbon-14 tests that show the associated leather to be ancient and of a comparable date to the lead.
Even if the antiquity of the materials is demonstrated, this proves nothing, since ancient materials are sometimes available on which to write fake inscriptions.
3. Publication of the location and details of the supposed discovery and analysis of the site by archaeologists.
4. Analysis of the patina of the script which demonstrates the writing to be ancient. If it is modern and unretouched, this will be obvious. If it has been retouched to seem ancient, this may or may not be detectable (see the controversy over the patina of the James Ossuary and the Jehoash inscription).
5. Full publication of all the texts with good photographs.
6. Analysis of the script by paleographers.
7. If things still look promising at this point, it will become worthwhile for philologists to take an interest and start trying to decipher the texts. So far, epigrapher Andre Lemaire has seen some of them and does not consider them genuine.
Inevitably, people will be now trying their hand at what is readable in the current photographs (if we assume they are from the same corpus). I don’t have time to bother with this right now, but I would be interested in hearing what others come up with.
8. Analysis of the decorations by specialists in ancient iconography.
9. Publication of all of the above in peer-review journals and monographs.
There’s probably more, but this is what I can think of off the top of my head.
So … don’t hold your breath; this will take some time. I repeat, I am very skeptical, but I would love to be proved wrong.
Additional background here (immediately preceding post).

PaleoJudaica.com

Scrolls and Lead Codices from Remote Cave Might be Early 1st Century Writings about Jesus

It is much too early to know what information these 70 codices contain about the burial and resurrection of Jesus that might shed light on the shroud. Even an absence of information would be very telling. If genuine, they would be among the earliest Christian writings.

The Daily Mail is reporting:

imageArtefacts discovered in a remote cave in Jordan could hold a contemporary account of the last years of Jesus.

The find of scrolls and 70 lead codices – tiny credit-card-sized volumes containing ancient Hebrew script talking of the Messiah and the Resurrection – has excited biblical scholars.

. . . [Margaret Barker, a former president of the Society for Old testament Study with a renowned knowledge of early Christian studies] said if the material is genuine then the books could be ‘vital and unique’ evidence of the earliest Christians.

‘If they are a forgery, what are they are forgery of?’ she said.’ Most fakes are drawn from existing material, but there is nothing like this that I have seen.’

The owner of the cache is a Bedouin named Hassan Saeda who lives in the village of Um-al-Ghanam in the north of Israel,according to the Sunday Times. He is believed to have obtained them after they were discovered in northern Jordan.

Two samples were sent to a laboratory in England where they were examined by Peter Northover, head of the materials science-based archaeology group.

The verdict was inconclusive without more tests, but he said the composition was ‘consistent with a range of ancient lead.’

However, Philip Davies, emeritus professor of biblical studies at Sheffield University is convinced the codices are genuine after studying one.

He has told colleagues privately that he believes the find is unlikely to have been forged, say the Sunday Times.

See: Are artefacts discovered in a remote cave the secret writings about the last years of Jesus? | Mail Online

Conference on Acheropite Images to be Held at Torun, Poland May 11 to 13

imageInternational Interdisciplinary Conference on the Acheiropoietos Images to bring together scientists and scholars from many disciplines including theology, humanities and the natural sciences.

The organizers of the conference are from the Nicholas Copernicus University in Torun, as well as from the University of Gdansk. The language of the conference will be English.

The following is extracted from the Conference website: http://acheiropoietos.umk.pl/

The conference aims, among others, to update knowledge on the objects not made by human hand which are referred to by a Greek term “acheiropoietos”. This ancient concept has a wide range of meaning. Within the narrow range, the term covers images which in the strict sense came into existence without the assistance of human hand. In the broad meaning – the objects which are in a more or less conventional way entitled to such a definition when Tradition sources are taken into consideration.

It is still not perfectly clear which objects are entitled to be described as acheiropoietos in the strict sense. Without fail, the images which underwent a thorough research in the previous century obviously belong to that group. These are the images on the Turin Shroud and the Tilma of Guadalupe, and additionally, in the light of recent comparison research carried out i.a. by sister Blandina Paschalis, the Veil of Manoppello has been also included in that group. The question, whether one can classify as acheiropoietos in the strict sense also the images from other objects such as e.g. the miniature cloth from Coromoto in Venezuela, is under discussion.

The organisers of Toruń Acheiropoietos Conference 2011 conference are eager to open the ground for scientific discussion among researchers of various disciplines in order to circumscribe the methodological frames of research scope which is set by the term “acheiropoietos”, to confront research achievements of all scientific disciplines which deal with acheiropoietos and to set the direction for integration of acheiropoietos studies.

The conference will be held on May 11–13, 2011 and will commemorate 12th anniversary of John Paul II’s visit to Toruń. While giving a speech at Toruń’s University, he encouraged to engage in a deep dialogue between science and faith. This is also the aim of organisers of Toruń Acheiropoietos Conference 2011. It’s realisation is possible due to special subject of study wich is in the limelight of natural science as well as humanities and theology.

Suggested thematic areas

  • Acheropoietos images in natural science cognition
  • Characteristics of material structure of acheiorpoietos
  • Consequences (pastoral, liturgical, ecumenical) of integrating acheiropoietos studies for the icon theology
  • The theology of icon
  • The theology of sign and miracle
  • Fenomenology of sacred images
  • Significance of the acheiropoietos images in fundamental theology, missiology and new evangelisation
  • The issue of authenticity of Jesus Christ image in Christian iconographic canons in the context of acheiropoietos images
  • The issue of authenticity of Jesus Christ acheiropoietos image in comparison to images of deities of other religions (in the context of religious studies)
  • Forecast on scientific, sociological, cultural consequences of undertaking integrated acheiropoietos studies
  • Historical aspects

Hat tip: Holy Face of Manoppello: Conference on Acheropite Images to be Held at Torun, Poland May 11 to 13

A Review: The Fallacy of God: A Religious Conspiracy

imageOver at Amazon, I just published a brief review for David Sullivan’s newest book, The Fallacy of God: A Religious Conspiracy. The only other review is by someone named Laptop Doctor who has published one glowing review for each of Sullivan’s books.

If you want to see what Sullivan is like (pictured here pretending to dress like a priest), view this brief YouTube video over at Better than a Saturday Night Live Skit.

Here is what I wrote over at Amazon:

I reviewed the chapter on the Shroud of Turin, a subject I am familiar with. The writing is a mixture of illogical arguments, confused facts and ridiculous claims. One paragraph selected as a fairly representative example illustrates this. Sullivan writes: "If Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that process (miracle) somehow placed the image onto the shroud; then why when Jesus raised Lazarus from his tomb, or when He resurrected Jairus’ daughter from her bed, do we not find evidence of similar miracles? Jesus’ body was of the flesh, just as they, so whatever force that produced the image on the shroud should have had the same effect on their wrappings. . . ."

imageWhat? We don’t have their wrappings to examine. Oh, yes, about a thousand years ago, the church in Byzantium claimed to have Lazarus’ burial wrappings. But those disappeared long ago and, of course, there would be no way to verify that they are real relics. This sort of complete lack of logic and confusion about factual content fills every page of this book.

I do not recommend this book.

Amazon.com: The Fallacy of God: A Religious Conspiracy (9781460941317): David Sullivan: Books

From a review of An Incomplete Curiosity: “Shroud has regained some credibility”

imageDesmond O’Grady in the Italian Insider: Italy’s first English language daily newspaper (March 22, 2011), in a review of An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley:

[I]t is too easy to suggest [all relics] have the same standing. Is the Shroud of Turin, which bears the image of a crucified man, the winding sheet of Christ or not? Its status was dented in 1988 when carbon dating showed it was not from the period of Christ’s death. However the shroud’s defenders claimed the test had been done on a patch added to mend the shroud and produced new tests confirming the shroud’s authenticity. The case it still open but the shroud has regained some credibility.

BOOK REVIEW: An Incomplete Curiosity

Or you can just look it up in Google. How to determine the date for Easter.

From About.com:

imageWhy does the date for Easter change every year? Have you ever wondered why Easter Sunday can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25? And why do Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on a different day than Western churches? These are all good questions with answers that require a bit of explanation. In fact, there are as many misunderstandings about the calculation of Easter dates, as there are reasons for the confusion. What follows is an attempt to clear up at least some of the confusion.

In Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon date of the year. I had previously, and somewhat erroneously stated, "Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox." This statement was true prior to 325 AD; however, over the course of history (beginning in 325 AD with the Council of Nicea), the Western Church decided to established a more standardized system for determining the date of Easter.

In actuality, the date of the Paschal Full Moon is determined from historical tables, and has no correspondence to lunar events.

As Astronomers were able to approximate the dates of all the full moons in future years, the Western Christian Church used these calculations to establish a table of Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. These dates would determine the Holy Days on the Ecclesiastical calendar.

Though modified slightly from its original form, by 1583 AD the table for determining the Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates was permanently established and has been used ever since to determine the date of Easter. Thus, according to the Ecclesiastical tables, the Paschal Full Moon is the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon date after March 20 (which happened to be the vernal equinox date in 325 AD). So, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.

The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity.

Historically, western churches used the Gregorian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter and Eastern Orthodox churches used the Julian Calendar. This was partly why the dates were seldom the same.

Easter and its related holidays do not fall on a fixed date in either the Gregorian or Julian calendars, making them movable holidays. The dates, instead, are based on a lunar calendar very similar to the Hebrew Calendar.

While some Eastern Orthodox Churches not only maintain the date of Easter based on the Julian Calendar which was in use during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD, they also use the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual vernal equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem. This complicates the matter, due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar, and the 13 days that have accrued since 325 AD. This means, in order to stay in line with the originally established (325 AD) vernal equinox, Orthodox Easter cannot be celebrated before April 3 (present day Gregorian calendar), which was March 21 in 325 AD.

Additionally, in keeping with the rule established by the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, the Eastern Orthodox Church adhered to the tradition that Easter must always fall after the Jewish Passover, since the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ happened after the celebration of Passover. Eventually the Orthodox Church came up with an alternative to calculating Easter based on the Gregorian calendar and Passover, and developed a 19-year cycle, as opposed to the Western Church 84-year cycle.

Since the days of early church history, determining the precise date of Easter has been a matter for continued argument. For one, the followers of Christ neglected to record the exact date of Jesus’ resurrection. From then on the matter grew increasingly complex.

Easter Dates – Why Does the Date for Easter Change Every Year?

Poem: We Are One We Are Home: “Uncover your shroud of turin”

From a poem, “We Are One We Are Home,” by Susan AKA Peacefull

imageUncover your shroud of turin,
The remnants of the truth,
Shattered into mythology,
Spirituality became ideology,
Within righteousness are you all right.

Unity is blind to colour or tone,
Holy communion is love alone,
Faith tipped from the cup of cola,
Into the petrie dish of corporate culture,
Your survival is pinned to the badge of greed,

We Are One We Are Home | Peace is Our True Nature

Faces: the Shroud, the Sudarium, the Holy Face of Manoppello

The Google Chrome browser does an excellent job of automatically translating this German website that is loaded with useful information.

Use this link in Chrome: www.sudariumchristi.com 

  • imageSudarium and the grave blanket
  • Sudarium and Cloth of Oviedo
  • The path of the cloth
  • Presence of the Lord
  • Introduction
  • Face to face
  • Fact and Fiction
    • Search for clues in the East
    • Myths, legends and legends
    • The Rape of Veronika
    • Paintings, frescoes and icons
    • The veil lifts itself
  • Fine linen and pure linen
  • Find out more
  • Imprint

Search for clues in the East

Since early Christian times was oral and written traditions of a cloth with the face of Jesus Christ reported. Veil of Kamulia, Mandylion Acheiropoietos, Veronika or Volto Santo – a number seemingly mysterious names which also early icons were used to partially complicate the search for clues in documents, legends and poetry. In addition, the resurrection of several towels in the grave were under, as John mentioned, in addition to burial cloths in the plural explicitly tied together (or folded – Greek "entylisso) handkerchief in his Easter Gospel

image

The Magic Fault by Paul Mohrbacher

imageNew, over at Amazon.com: The Magic Fault by Paul Mohrbacher (March 14, Kindle Edition $7.99, Paperback $15.95.)

Excerpt:

He never would have been in that church yesterday if not for one other person. A month earlier, he had received a letter from the archbishop of Turin, a priest named Michael Tucci. Tucci had read an article on magical thinking in the New York Times arts section. In the article, Tom had been quoted as an authority on the topic. He summarized the Historian Norman Cantor’s insights into medieval behavior during the Black Plague of the 14th Century: Christians blamed the Jews for the plague. “Scapegoating is magical thinking,” Tom wrote. “And it goes on today. We blame the ‘other’ for everything wrong in our lives. Religious extremists are often the worst offenders.”

The priest wrote that he was deeply fascinated by the topic and invited him to Turin. Tom wrote back he’d be there in a month. Yesterday was to be the day for the meeting. Tom had decided to check out the famed Shroud of Turin relic first.

Now it looked as though he might not get to see the priest. Next stop: The U.S. consulate in Turin, if there was one. And he needed a lawyer.

Another knock on the door; the big guy barged in and spoke actually using nouns and verbs. “The archbishop of Turin wants to see you.”

Tom looked at his watch — 7 a.m. The cop had brought him a shaving kit, a cappuccino and a bag of fresh bread and rolls. “Get dressed, please, and I will be back in thirty minutes.” “Please” meant something for sure — he was cleared.

“It’s about time. Is it a trial, the inquisition, what the hell is going on?”

The big cop had undergone a personality change from the night before. He even looked smaller. “The archbishop will meet you in the Duomo. The scene of the crime. Then of course, if all goes well, you are free to go about your business in Torino.”

CNN’s Belief Blog

imageIt seem that almost any question pursued in CNN’s attempt at faith blogging is under the gun from a small handful of people who immediately, by means of the comment section, deny that God exists thus hijacking the discussion and turning it into an apologetics debate. In Overheard on CNN.com, as reported on CNN, we see an an interesting example of this in this brief extract:

Disasters like that in Japan often provoke the question, “Where is God?” A CNN story struggled for an answer by posing this question to different spiritual leaders. John said, “It is wonderful to hear a Buddhist perspective on the disaster. As a Buddhist, I am often dismayed how in the discussion of faith, Christianity, Judaism and Islam seem to be the only sought-after players.”

Most of our readers wanted to discuss the existence or nonexistence of God. GoDog asked, “Where is God? Nowhere. Random planet, random life, random events, random life, repeat.”  And Ernest suggested that religious faith is merely a response to stress. “ ’Finding faith’ in a massively stressful situation is nothing more than a trick played upon one’s mind. I would like to see more rational approaches to helping people cope with trauma than religious ones.”

Fastball said, “There is no external God but there can be God inside of everybody. That kind of God can make us compassionate, can make us care, can make us think about others before we look to ourselves.” And charles miller, a research scientist, said, “I have no concerns or doubts that God is real, that he cares and loves all mankind. I also believe he expects us to care for one another.“

SRinSCarolina said, “I think we cannot ‘see’ God yet. We only knew about atoms in the last seven decades. We just may not yet have the vision or the tools to ‘see’ God but that does not mean He is not here.”

Some of our readers took issue with the response of Sam Harris, who represents an organization dedicated to promoting “secular values.” George Bailey said, “What’s striking to me is the compassion and meaning given by each of the entries except the atheist, who chooses to describe those with whom he disagrees as ‘stupid’ and ‘childish.’ “ profart agreed, “Boy, does Mr. Harris come off looking like a callous idiot. I hope he doesn’t really represent atheists.” And Karen said, “Come on, CNN, the only atheist you could find is a callous jerk? Seriously?”

But Injun Trouble said, “There is but one sensible entry in this article, and it is Sam’s. Period.”

Thoughts for a Sunday Morning: Science and Religion

imageThough the subject matter of the book is quite limited to the subject of the title, this quote from the 2008 National Academy of Science publication, Science, Evolution, and Creationism is something to be considered and perhaps taken very seriously in our studies of the Shroud of Turin.

Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. … Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways. Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist. … Many religious beliefs involve entities or ideas that currently are not within the domain of science. Thus, it would be false to assume that all religious beliefs can be challenged by scientific findings.

I agree with this statement. Many people do not, particularly New Atheists and Christian Creationists. But there are some very intelligent middle of the road shroud researchers who also do not agree.

Fifth Graders and the Shroud of Turin

image The school is a mystery, at least from a quick look at the blog. But this blog from teachers at the school seems to be the main method by which teachers communicate with parents. Here is an extract from a recent posting:

From Mrs. Brown: Your 5th grader has been given an intriguing assignment: decide if he/she believes if the Shroud of Turin is really the burial cloth of Christ, or a hoax. I’ve given the students a brief description of the Shroud, with some opinions for and against its authenticity. In class, we’re watching "The Real Face of Jesus" DVD from the History Channel. That’s just the starting point! I’d like your child, with your help, to do some research on-line to gather more information on the Shroud. Based on this research, I’d like your child to state his/her opinion about the Shroud and then fill in the chart (which will come home on Thursday, March 18) with three compelling reasons for his/her opinion, along with three subpoints under each reason. The subpoints must be related to the reason. We will use this as the basis for writing the opinion paper. Completed chart is due Tuesday, March 22nd.

Source: 5th Grade News: Monday newsletter 3-14-11

The Shroud of Turin and Type AB Blood

image Stephen Jones, as always, responded to a reader of his blog with wonderful thoroughness. He received an email asking about the claims that the blood on the shroud is type AB and why that may or may not be significant and why that might be a false reading. I received, essentially, the same email. I was traveling and away from my files and thus unable to respond. Stephen, thankfully, did help. Read his posting,

Back in October, I did write something on the subject as a by-the-way comment to a much longer off-topic posting on evolution, Open Letter to Another Blogger. I wrote:

BTW: You make a good point about blood type AB. Al Adler, a blood specialist from Western Connecticut State University, and another Shroud scientist, pointed out that all old blood tended to test AB because the compounds that generated the test response were also in the cell walls and if the walls degraded the blood started to test AB. But it was possible, he felt, to discern false AB positive readings from real AB type readings.

I wish I knew more about the subject.

Still More on Akiane’s Jesus, Heaven is for Real and the Man in the Shroud

EASTER 2014:  Important new open discussion on this blog:

Heaven is for Real, the Akiane Prince of Peace, the ISA Mosaic and the Shroud of Turin

Also see:

Alice Miller writes:

image image To say that Akiane Kramarik is a religious visionary is certainly proper if you believe it. That she is also a gifted artist and a child prodigy goes without question. Given that her “Prince of Peace” looks so much like shroud-inspired pictures of Jesus in a sort of “it’s the same person” sense and given that little Colton Burpo in “Heaven is for Real” identified Akiane’s “Prince of Peace” as the person he saw in heaven warns us to be careful with what we really mean. For instance, how graphically valid is a religious vision? An article in Christianity Today is very telling:

From article:

“It wasn’t just art that was happening. Simultaneous with art was a spiritual awakening,” says Akiane’s mother, Forelli Kramarik. “It all began to happen when she started to share her dreams and visions.”Prior to that time, Forelli had been raised as an unbeliever, in an atheistic family from Lithuania.”And my husband was a former Catholic and did not share in the family beliefs. We didn’t pray together, there was no discussion about God, and we didn’t go to church. Then all of a sudden, Akiane was starting to talk about God.”

Forelli’s young daughter was homeschooled, she had no babysitters, and the family watched no television.”We were with the kids all the time, and so these words from Akiane about God didn’t come from the outside — we knew that. But there suddenly were intense conversations about God’s love, His place [in our lives], and she would describe everything in detail.”

In the beginning, Akiane drew pictures of family members and pets, but her interests eventually shifted to the creation of faces. She started “scribbling” more and more faces. She tries to recreate visions that she says God gives her in her dreams.

“I wake up after I have had many dreams. I wake up and I pray, and then I see visions and I explain all those to my mom, and I say, ‘This is what I want to paint.’ And my mom says, ‘I’ll give you a canvass so you can paint it.'”From her dreams Akiane began to compose what she calls the “Jesus” paintings, which took her more than 75 hours to complete. She has so far painted two oils of Jesus. She calls the first one “The Prince of Peace,” and the second is titled “Forgive Them, Father.”

“I always think about Jesus and talk about Him,” she says. “I was looking for a [Jesus] model for a long, long time, and when I couldn’t find anyone, one day I suggested to my family to pray all day for this model so God would send the right one.” The day that they prayed, a very tall carpenter — yes, a carpenter — came to their door looking for work. When he showed up, Akiane nearly fainted. “I told my mother that that was him. I want him to be my model,” she recalls.

The carpenter agreed to it at first, but he called a week later to back out.

“He said that he wasn’t worthy to represent his Master,” Akiane says. “He’s a Christian, and he’s a humble person. But I prayed that God would change his mind and that he would call back.” And the mysterious carpenter, who wished to remain anonymous, did call Akiane back, saying that God wanted him to pose for the painting, although he felt it was unusual.

Akiane took pictures, studied his face, made sketches, used her imagination and photo references, and the result was the “Prince of Peace.”

Akiane’s day is a little different from other children her age who are homeschooled. When she wakes each morning she has a drink of water, exercises, prays, and then she paints.

“And after I paint, I write poetry,” Akiane adds. “And I write Russian, and then I write and read Lithuanian, after which I read the Bible.”

When asked how she knows that it’s God who is speaking to her, she replies, “Because I can hear His voice. His voice is quiet and beautiful.” Although she was 3 at the time, she’ll always remember God’s first message to her. “He said, ‘You have to do this, and I’ll help you.’ He said, ‘Now you can help people.’ I said, ‘Yes, I will.’ But I said it in different words in my mind. I speak through my mind to Him.”

Akiane also has another dream that she believes God has given her — only this one is one that she dreams during her waking hours.”I really want to help needy people in Africa and other places,” she says. “Especially the Lithuanian people — the ‘garbage children’ is what they are called. They live in the garbage, and 2- and 3-year-olds are being killed for the first place in the food line,” she says. “Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world. They need help with food and medicine, and a free hospital. I really want to build a free hospital for them.”

Akiane hopes to fund such projects with the sale of her paintings and poetry. According to her agent, Akiane soon will embark on a world tour to raise money for the African AIDS crisis.

“We don’t have an answer as to why this is happening. We don’t have a clue,” Forelli Kramarik says about her daughter’s unfolding ministry. “We’re just thankful to God.”

But Akiane does seem to have an answer. When her mother asks her why she thinks she received her gift, the 10-year-old replies: “I have been blessed by God. And if I’m blessed, there is one reason and one reason only, and that is to help others.”

I don’t know what to think at this time.