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Thank You, Everyone

December 15, 2015 218 comments

imageThis is my last posting. I’m retiring from blogging. I need to. It’s time to move on. I’m now more involved in the community where I live and I want to become more active in the church.

I’ll let commenting continue for a few days and then shut down comments for good by years’ end. I’ll keep the blog up for future research and reading.

Thank you, everyone!

If you want to take over in some way, write to me and we’ll try to figure out something.


imageI started this experiment seven years ago with the hope of beginning an ongoing conversation about any and all topics related to the shroud. The slow pace of papers and the length of time between conferences, very much the time-tested way, was too slow for my temperament. There was the Shroud Science Group conducting discussions in private by email. I enjoyed that. But its membership was restricted. It reminded me of the proverbial boyhood tree house with the sign that read, “No Girls Allowed.”

Maybe that’s unfair: You had to be nominated. You had to be invited. No one was ever turned away although a couple of people were eventually kicked out of the group for email misbehaving. If there had been a sign and someplace to hang it, it would have read, “No Skeptics Allowed.” At least, it felt that way.

Skepticism is the healthiest of attitudes with all things having to do with religion. I believed that. For instance, a Christian should never fear new discoveries in science and history. There can be no better test of the strength and truth of one’s faith than to face the questions posed by new views of reality.

We needed to be tempted, not by going into the desert but into the jostling crowd. It took a long time. Thank, God, for Colin Berry and all the others.

At first I didn’t do blogging correctly and this blog didn’t catch on. Eventually, I learned to say less and encouraged others to become the center of the discussion, something I’m not good at. In doing so I created an opportunity to learn a lot from skeptics and non-skeptics alike. I hope this has been true for others because this blog was never intended for my benefit alone.

This blog has exceeded all my expectations. Lately, I have been posting almost every day, sometimes two or three times a day. Comments pour in. They are good comments, not those meaningless short comments you see in so many blogs. There has been a lot of constructive discussion.

In looking back over seven years, I realize that my overall views on the shroud have not changed significantly. You’ll note that in the right hand column of every page, I say, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.” I used to say it probably is instead of may be. I still gut-think it is probably authentic but in all honesty I can’t defend the word probably with real-world science and objective history.

Belief is a less cautious word than knowing. I can say with more honesty that from all the evidence discussed here, with everyone’s input considered, I believe the shroud is indeed authentic. But I can’t say I know it.

As I leave blogging about the shroud, I want to leave a few thoughts behind. This is today’s list. I may awake to a new list tomorrow but I won’t go back and change it. I’m really out of here.

On Overwhelming Evidence: From time to time, people have tried to convince me that the evidence in favor of authenticity is overwhelming. Similarly, others have tried to convince me that the evidence against authenticity – particularly the carbon dating – is overwhelming. No, it is not. It is underwhelming. That is why this blog has over 4000 postings with a total of more than 46,000 comments. That is why this blog has accumulated 3.3 million page views. That is why 790 people subscribe to receive email copies of every posting.

Redo the Carbon Dating: Of course.

On Seeing Things on the Shroud: I don’t think there are any images of ancient coins, plants, teeth or written messages in Greek, Latin or Hebrew; all these are wishful misperceptions or pareidolia. See: I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin

On 3D Encoding: I think the ability to plot a 3D representation of the body from the image of a man on the shroud with tools like the VP8 Image Analyzer or ImageJ is a valid image characteristic. However, I don’t think that the data – essentially greyscale values of the image – necessarily represents cloth to body distance. To think so requires the assumption that the shroud covered the body. It probably did if the cloth is authentic, but we are not there yet. Nonetheless, I’ve listened to others preposterously trying to prove the authenticity of the cloth from the facts and measurements derived from this assumption.

Moreover, it is often said that it is impossible to plot 3D information from paintings and ordinary photographs. Bill Meacham wrote:

Unlike ordinary photographs or paintings, the Shroud image converted into an undistorted three-dimensional figure, a phenomenon which suggested that the image-forming process acted uniformly through space over the body, front and back, and did not depend on contact of cloth with body at every point.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold up. See: It is really, really time to rethink what we think about 3D

Exaggerations: NASA did not analyze the shroud. Ray Rogers was not a general In the Air Force, America’s greatest scientists did not study the shroud, and so-and-so was not a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Drop the exaggerations. They only weaken the truth.

Dematerialization: The suggestion that the image was formed by a cloth falling through a dematerializing body is unfortunate. Permit me to quote Hugh Farey here:

… The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

See: The Process of Resurrection and Dematerialization 101

Sindonology: To quote Colin Berry, because in this I think he is right:

. . . There is no such thing as an expert in the field of sindonology (or shroudology as I prefer to call it. We are all beginners. Some begin better than others. The TS is a test of our ability to separate the wishful thinking that comes with appealing imagery from that of cold hard reality. Sadly there is no part of the human mind that is devoted to detecting CHR. The human mind is programmed to respond on a more immediate like/dislike response to what it sees. It’s part and parcel of the human condition to instantly add layers of fancy to what cunningly or otherwise seduces, or attempts to seduce the eye.

 

Some of my other favorite postings:

Maybe the devil made them post this

It Was A Single Procedural Screw-Up. No Other Area Was Sampled. Is That Enough?

Why do we think the Resurrection was a process? What if it was not?

The Best Shroud of Turin Pareidolia?

Paper Chase: Why There Are Probably No Images of Coins, Lettering, Flowers and Whatnots on the Shroud of Turin

The Pollen Scam?

Why the images and bloodstains were not painted on

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer?

A Masterly Demolition of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

A Pointless Discussion of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

The Curious ‘a’ in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript

Discussion about the Pray Codex and its relation to the Shroud is over?

Get Thee Upset! Or Not: Thomas de Wesselow’s New Book on the Shroud

Hymn of the Pearl: Description of the Shroud of Turin?

 


A final note:

 

When I first started this blog someone told me. “The Shroud of Turin is a Catholic relic. As an Episcopalian you have no right to comment on it.”

I wrote a reply and never posted it. This is my last chance:

It’s true; I’m an Episcopalian. Episcopalians are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Maybe I should explain what sort of Episcopalian I am. I’m High Church – all smells and bells, some say. Every Sunday it’s Solemn High Mass with a priest, deacon and sub-deacon, plenty of incense, holy water, chimes, chanting and recitation of The Angeles (“Hail Mary, full of grace…”). To some, should they visit a service, it might seem a lot like the Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass of old. There are differences, however. There is little or no Latin. Look closely and you will see wedding rings on most of our priests and bishops. That is because most of them are married. Many of our priests and even a few bishops are women; so girls are allowed. Generally speaking, we Episcopalians think most Christian denominations or traditions are part of one universal church, one body of Christ. One expression of this is our practice of open communion. We welcome all baptized Christians to participate in the Eucharist. (Personally, I would do away with the requirement of baptism. I would welcome anyone to the “Lord’s Table” regardless of belief or anything else – let God sort these things out, not men and women).

Okay, so I’m an Episcopalian. So what? Would it be any different if I was Methodist or Presbyterian or Greek Orthodox? You say it is a Catholic relic. Is it? Why is that? If the history of the shroud is right, was it not a possession of the Church in Constantinople before 1204? Early on, perhaps it was a relic of the Nestorians or the Syriac Church or even the Church in India. We don’t know is the point. Today, to my way of thinking it is an item (an icon or a relic) for all Christians. The Pope is its current legal custodian and the leader of perhaps its most interested Christian tradition. Beyond that, let God sort it out, not men and women.

Thank you, everyone!

Categories: News & Views

David Rolfe’s Website

December 7, 2015 22 comments

imageA reader writes:

I just visited [David Rolfe’s] Shroud Enigma website.  It has been a long time since I looked at it and I see that it has been revised to emphasize his wonderful Shroud of Turin films.  Maybe you could direct your readers to it.

Indeed. The site is The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin. And indeed the films are wonderful. However, I must say more. The Silent Witness, available on Vimeo, is truly a seminal work for the ages.

I had not visited in awhile as well. Thanks for guiding me back to David’s site. 

Categories: Other Sites

Why Didn’t I Think of That

December 6, 2015 218 comments

Had there been that iconic double image – both sides of the same man, aligned
head-to-head – in someone or other’s possession for 1300 or years prior to Lirey,
it would have leaked out into the public domain

— Colin Berry


imageTypically and daily, well over three thousand people see each and every new posting to this blog. It may arrive in their inbox as one of the 787 emails that go every time I post something. It may arrive via Twitter and Facebook. On average, one thousand people access a posting from search engines or subject-specific news feeds like Yahoo.  Hundreds type in the URL or click on a book mark.

Some will skim the first few lines, if that. Some will read the whole posting before chucking it. There is, however, a hardcore group that reads the posts carefully and writes comments. These comments often lead to wonderful discussions by several people, almost all of them people better informed and a heck of a lot smarter than me when it comes to the shroud.  Often, the topic drifts. That’s fine.

Now and then someone writes something that grabs your attention.  For instance, this morning I saw the following by Colin Berry. It made me stop and think. I don’t like what Colin wrote because maybe it’s true and I am hoping someone smarter than me will respond:

Had there been that iconic double image – both sides of the same man, aligned head-to-head – in someone or other’s possession for 1300 or years prior to Lirey, it would have leaked out into the public domain, if only as a rumour. It would have required just one quick sketch, scarcely more than graffiti, to become an instantly recognizable logo, signalling the sheet that enveloped the crucified Jesus, leaving his supposed faint bloodied imprint of BOTH sides.

But there’s no record pre-1355 of any such iconic double image. So why not just accept that the double-image did not exist before the mid-14th century?

imageAnd then the topic drifts; call it a two for one comment from Colin. I wonder why Colin thinks what he thinks:

… Why not regard it as an ingenious artefact that has (allegedly) perplexed the brightest and best of modern day scientists? Or has it? Which top notch scientists have been invited to examine it? If anyone here knows of any, then please name them and their research achievements. Don’t be content to say they were “experts” or highly regarded in their chosen field. State the discoveries and insights for which they are famous.

I say the TS has never been investigated by a top notch scientist associated with a major discovery, no disrespect to the Hellers, Adlers, Rogers etc, certainly not of Nobel Prize standard. Yet the UK institute where one of my medically-qualified offspring works does immunological research is reputed as having a still-active Nobel Prize winner on every floor! They do exist, and I’ve no doubt some are quite approachable. Why has the TS not been evaluated by someone of that standing? …

To my way of thinking, the acclaim that a scientist is top notch and the nominations for prizes and fellowship usually stem from accomplishments made before fame. I think, for instance, of Jonas Salk. He was not an acclaimed top notch scientist or a prize winner when he saw the possibility of developing a polio vaccine. To quote Julius Youngner, a scientist interviewed for a PBS documentary, “Jonas was a young whippersnapper who came out of nowhere, and suddenly is taking on this responsibility…”

I don’t like Colin’s argument. But others might.  He does have a point, however, that can well be directed at some who make exaggerated claims of credentials for shroud scientists and sometimes so-called scientists.

If you want to read the whole discussion, and you should if you have not, visit A Must Read Regarding the Othon de la Roche Hypothesis.  There are, as of this moment, 40 thoughtful, thought-provoking comments.

Categories: News & Views

Searching for Papers

December 2, 2015 2 comments

imageA reader writes:

… you know that by typing in “shroud.com/pdfs" you get a list of all of the pdf papers on the site in alphabetical order. This can be useful in doing research. You should let others on your blog know.

Actually, the pdfs directory is not the only place pdf files are stored on the site.

The preferred method, to my way of thinking, is to use the following Google search:

 site:shroud.com/ filetype:pdf

If you want to limit yourself to the pdfs directory (why would you?) modify the command so it reads thus:

site:shroud.com/pdfs/ filetype:pdf

If you want to search elsewhere, you may. For instance:

site:holyshroudguild.org/ filetype:pdf

site:shroudencounter.com/ filetype:pdf

site:shroud.it/ filetype:pdf

With any of these searches, it is a good idea to add some words like shroud or pollen or whatever is your particular interest of the moment.

If you start your search with Google Advanced Search, you can specify a language.

Academia.edu is altogether another matter.   It is a rich archive of papers on the shroud – probably the largest and you’ll find many newer English language papers there – but you can’t search it with Google or any of the other major search engines if you specify a filetype. So don’t. On the other hand, it is a good bet that whatever it is you find in Academia.edu, it will be a PDF file. And using words like Shroud and Turin are a must. For instance the following work well in Google:

site:academia.edu shroud of turin

Categories: Other Sites, Paper Chase

Donate to STERA

November 30, 2015 Comments off

imageBarrie Schwortz has posted the following on the STERA Facebook page:

We hope you are enjoying the Fall Update to Shroud.com! It was a large one and also launched our once-a-year fundraising effort. Naturally, we hope many of you will make a tax deductible contribution to STERA, Inc. since we must rely in part on our viewers for financial support. We have made it easy to safely contribute online using PayPal or a credit or debit card via our Secure Contribution Form. You can also contribute by mail or by telephone. We thank you in advance for your consideration and generosity.

DO CONTRIBUTE GENEROULSLY
I COUNT HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS OF PAPERS ARCHIVED ON THIS SITE
AND THEN THERE ARE ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Here is a link to the Nonprofit Locator page on STERA

Here is a link to latest IRS 990 I could find online.

Categories: Other Sites

The Sudarium: A Better Provenance and History?

November 30, 2015 115 comments

imageThe Paranormal Report blog, just yesterday, posted a short report, The Sudarium of Oviedo – Better than the Shroud of Turin?

on the Sudarium of Oviedo:

Lying in the Cathedral of Oviedo, Spain in relative obscurity compared to its more famous cousin, the Sudarium presents a better provenance and history than the Shroud and may be the sole surviving relic of the crucifixion that has made it to modern times. Measuring 34″ by 21″, the Sudarium is a bloodstained cloth purported to have covered the head of Jesus of Nazareth after his burial. The cloth is mentioned to have been in the tomb in John 20:6-7 described as a cloth seperate from the shroud. It isn’t mentioned again until 570 A.D. when it was being kept by monks in a cave near Jerusalem. In 614, just before the Sasanian King of Persia Khusru II conquered Jerusalem, the cloth was taken to Alexandria, and within just a few years made its way to Spain through North Africa. Its been there ever since.

AND: here is a 1997 paper with pictures, The Sudarium of Oviedo: Its History and Relationship to the Shroud of Turin by Mark Guscin

Here are some postings on the Sudarium in this blog in just the past year:

Categories: History, Other Blogs

Fr. Matthew Pittam on Relics

November 23, 2015 6 comments

imageWhen have you ever read about the carbon dating of the shroud in which no mention was made about the results?

The University of Oxford is to become a world leading centre into the study of religious relics following the launch of a new department. This ground-breaking centre, based in Keble College’s Advanced Studies Centre, is to be composed of computer and medical scientists as well as historians, classicists and theologians. Such an interdisciplinary approach builds upon work that has been undertaken by the university’s archaeological school since the 1980s.

Past achievements within the university have included the dating of the shroud of Turin, which involved study in three laboratories and the radiocarbon accelerator unit. This new unit is the first time that such a wide-ranging field of experts has been brought together in this way.

Not that there is anything wrong with that; this article is not about the shroud but … As a new centre to study relics opens in Oxford, Fr Matthew Pittam takes a look at some more unusual examples in the Catholic Herald:

  • The head of St Catherine of Siena – San Domenico Basilica Siena, Italy
  • The Holy Prepuce (Christ’s foreskin) – stolen in the 1980s
  • St Antonius’s body – Church of San Marco, Florence, Italy
  • Blessed John Henry Newman – The Oratory of St Philip Neri, Birmingham, UK
  • The hand of St Francis Xavier – Gesu, Rome

Well, I hope Oxford is not planning to test the foreskin.  It has gone missing, since 1983. 

Fr. Pittam concludes his article:

I remember a friend telling me how he had retrieved relics from a presbytery bin when the parish priest had disposed of them in the early 1980s. This just shows how relics have been regarded by many more recently.

Hopefully, the new Oxford Centre for the Study of Relics will help further advance and promote the use of relics in the Church and encourage us to think afresh about their importance. Whilst studies will undoubtedly identify some relics as counterfeit or misidentified, others may be confirmed as originating from the time and place where the holy person lived. It will certainly give the veneration of relics more credibility.

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