Yesterday, Larry Getlen (pictured) reviewed John Thavis’ new book, Vatican Prophecies. (See earlier posting– Non-Fiction: The Vatican Prophecies Available September 15).
The New York Post, famous for its headlines, sought to grab reader attention with, How the Vatican investigates miracles. They succeeded.
Getlen’s article focused on three topics in the book: relics, the Shroud of Turin and exorcism. In that order; that will keep people reading, at least until they finish their morning bagel and coffee or get to their subway stop.
I like the Post, not editorially or journalistically, mind you, but because it tells us what a large segment of New Yorkers think. New Yorkers think many things because the paper masterfully tells them what to think. Getlen is one of the masters of making this happen.
Here is what you must know and think about the shroud – and this is just a review of a book:
The finding, that the Shroud is “a negative image,” confirmed for many its authenticity, as, people argued, “no medieval artist would have had the necessary knowledge to create such an image.”
Since then, “the cloth’s enigmatic imprint [has drawn] the attention of specialists in imaging, chemistry, physics and other fields, including radiocarbon dating.” Carbon-14 tests conducted in 1988 placed the shroud’s origins “between 1260 and 1390,” appearing to “bolster claims that the shroud was a medieval artifact.” But the tests have been criticized, as “according to several experts, the threads [that were tested] came from a repaired or contaminated area of the cloth.”
In the 1970s, a massive effort called STURP — The Shroud of Turin Research Project — united around 30 scientists from numerous fields, including “experts in photography, chemistry, physics and biophysics, mathematics, optics, forensic pathology,” and even “nuclear weapons research.”
An image analyzer that “created a three-dimensional relief of the shroud’s human form” confirmed for some that “the image itself contained precise spatial information, which would appear to rule out a painting or other artistic origin. The image would have to have been created while the cloth was draped over a body, even in places where the cloth had not come into direct contact with the body.”
A slew of additional tests from “every imaginable scientific angle” were conducted, from X-rays to “ultraviolet and infrared experiments” to analysis of cloth samples that had been “covered for centuries.” These tests “added an immense amount of data but also raised new questions. Essentially the team agreed that the image was not the work of an artist and was encoded with unique, three-dimensional information; but how it was produced remained a mystery.”
Except it was Sunday of Labor Day weekend and most people were not eating bagels or riding the subway. Maybe they should run it again on Tuesday.