[O]ne of my pet fascinations, the Shroud of Turin, was in the news again recently. A new study, conducted by the Italian “National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development” (wow), says that the image could not have been faked, and that the only means they’ve been able to come up with for producing the exact type of the image is “with the aid of ultraviolet lasers producing extremely brief pulses of light.” Needless to say, I don’t think they had that sort of technology in fourteenth-century France, when Geffroi de Charny acquired the Shroud. My suspicion has long been that, well, there’s something about the Shroud that defies explanation, and I would not be surprised if it does indeed turn out to be “genuine”–whatever that term may mean. The Church has never officially declared it a relic, which caution I find to be irrationally suggestive. Perhaps that is just the romantic in me, desiring some kind of physical token to tantalize faith and fascinate with mystery.
But mystery, faith, anticipation, and optimism are not bad feelings with which to close the book on 2011. . . .