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The Shroud of Santa Cruz

July 2, 2015 1 comment

clip_image001For just a second when you saw the picture you asked yourself, “What are they doing to the shroud?” Right?  Maybe it was just me. Maybe it is because I haven’t had coffee yet.

This appears in The Santa Cruz Sentinel this morning:

To a dispassionate or incurious eye, they are merely two planks of gray weathered wood, something you might come across moldering in the brush behind a log pile at someone’s Santa Cruz Mountains cabin.

But through the eyes of Kim Stoner or Geoffrey Dunn or Bob Pearson or Barney Langner or any number of surfers and/or spectators at a special ceremony at the Museum of Art & History last Thursday, these two planks of wood carry a staggering cultural meaning. In the world of surfing, they are the Rosetta Stone, the Shroud of Turin, the Hammer of Thor. They are the paintings on the cave walls at Lascaux, Shakespeare’s first folio, Babe Ruth’s first bat.

They are the First Surfboards.

Categories: Press Coverage

In the Eyes of the Befuddled

June 24, 2015 6 comments

Apparent image of a man!
Oh, that awful word ‘apparent,’  a word which insanely gets it meaning
from what you intend it to mean.

imageThe wonderfully outspoken Fr. Dwight Longenecker speaks out about MSM reporting on religion in the Catholic Channel over at Patheos. The title of Longenecker’s posting, The Shroud the Pope and the “Strip of Cloth”

Can the main stream media get any dumber than when they try to report on religion?

This article at CNN reports on Pope Francis’ recent visit to Turin where he prayed before the Shroud.

Pope Francis prayed Sunday before the Shroud of Turin, a strip of cloth that some believe was used for the burial of Jesus Christ.

The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ.

“A strip of cloth…”??

It’s that last line, “The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ.”–not only is it badly written but it reveals that the writer knows next to nothing about the shroud itself–which is one of the most extensively researched relics of Christianity.

He is right, of course.  Look at the Huffington Post for another example.

The Shroud of Turin has captivated thousands of Christians over centuries, some of whom believe it covered Jesus Christ during his burial — and on Sunday, Pope Francis joined a throng of pilgrims to see the 14-foot strip of cloth in the Italian city of Turin.

[…]

Those who believe the shroud to be authentic point to the apparent image of a man imprinted on the cloth, whose wounds seem to reflect those described in the narrative of the crucifixion.

Different writers. Hmmm?  Nah!

Appears to bear! Apparent image of a man!  Oh, that awful word ‘apparent,’  a word which insanely gets it meaning from what you intend it to mean. According to Merriam-Webster:

 

apparent

adjective ap·par·ent \ə-ˈper-ənt, -ˈpa-rənt\

: easy to see or understand

: seeming to be true but possibly not true

 

But let’s not kid ourselves.  Longenecker is right. There is, after all, an obvious image of a man on that strip of cloth.


Other postings in this blog that mention Fr. Longenecker:

Imagine what Mary looked like from the Shroud of Turin?

Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

Is the Shroud Evidence for God’s Existence?

Superhero Fr. Dwight Longenecker Believes in the Shroud of Turin

Ten Questions for Shroud Skeptics from Fr. Longenecker

The Day Was Not About the Shroud

June 22, 2015 15 comments

imageReuters journalist Philip Pullella wrote the report that got the most early-the-next-day shroud coverage among English language newspapers. The headline: Pope prays at Turin Shroud but skirts authenticity debate

Pope Francis prayed on Sunday before the mysterious shroud some Christians believe is Jesus’s burial cloth but skirted the issue of its authenticity, saying it should remind people of all suffering and persecution.

On his first day of a visit to the northern industrial city of Turin, he defended migrants flocking to Europe to escape war and injustice, saying it "makes one cry" to see them mistreated.

He also spoke of the city’s 19th century reputation as a center of devil worship and anti-clericalism, saying today’s young people faced new snares of high unemployment, drugs and unbridled consumerism.

Pullella said very little about the shroud. But he did pick up the gist of what the pope did and then said about the shroud:

After praying for several minutes before the cloth that has baffled scientists for decades, he touched its glass case and moved on to say Mass for 60,000 people. There he said the Shroud should spur people to reflect not only on Jesus but also on "the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person."

Despite the headline, the last several paragraphs of Pullella’s filing are about migrant workers.

The pope began the day with an outdoor rally on the theme of workers rights and immigration. Turin’s factories drew in waves of poor southern Italian peasants in the post-war period. Today it is home to migrants from developing countries and social tensions have increased along with unemployment.

That same day, Pullella filed two other stories.

Pope says abuse of migrants ‘makes one cry,’ visits Turin Shroud

Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian

Pullella may understand this pope very well.  The day was not about the shroud. It wasn’t about what the pope might think about the shroud. 

The AP story to some extent picks up this theme

Francis sat for several minutes before the shroud, contained in a protective glass case. He lowered his head at times in apparent reflection and occasionally gazed up at the 4.3-meter (14-foot) long cloth. Then he took a few steps, placed his hand on the case, and walked away without comment.

Later, after celebrating Mass of the faithful in a packed Turin square, Francis gave his impression of the cloth as he spoke of the love Jesus had for humanity when being crucified.

‘Icon of Christ’s love’

“Icon of this love is the Shroud, which, even this time, has attracted so many people here to Turin,” Francis said. “The Shroud draws (people) to the tormented face and body of Jesus and, at the same time, directs (people) toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person.”

The AP story also switched gears, perhaps a bit less gracefully:

Skeptics say the cloth bearing the image of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.

Turin, the heartland of Italy’s auto industry, is considered Italy’s blue-collar labor capital, and Francis used his two-day visit to the city to denounce exploitation of workers, singling out women, young people and immigrants as frequent victims.

Categories: 2015, Press Coverage

BBC News Magazine: The Perplexing Image

June 19, 2015 20 comments

it has to be said that the piece of cloth Pope Francis will venerate
is genuinely and stubbornly perplexing.

imageAppearing online just hours ago: How did the Turin Shroud get its image?

You’ll notice that this says nothing about its authenticity. The Catholic Church takes no official position on that, stating only that it is a matter for scientific investigation. Ever since radiocarbon dating in 1989 proclaimed the 14ft by 4ft piece of linen to be roughly 700 years old, the Church has avoided claiming that it is anything more than an "icon" of Christian devotion.

But regardless of the continuing arguments about its age (summarised in the box at the bottom of this page) the Shroud of Turin is a deeply puzzling object. Studies in 1978 by an international team of experts – the Shroud of Turin Research Project (Sturp) – delivered no clear explanation of how the cloth came to bear the faint imprint of a bearded man apparently bearing the wounds of crucifixion.

A painting, perhaps? McCrone is mentioned. Then there is this:

Another idea is that the image is a kind of rubbing made from a bas-relief statue, or perhaps imprinted by singeing the fabric while it lay on top of such a bas-relief – but the physical and chemical features of the image don’t support this.

A natural chemical process, a photograph, and energy release?

According to an international team of scientists and other interested folk called the Yahoo Shroud Science Group, hypotheses about the genesis of the shroud "involving the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be rejected". Among them, the group members write, "are hypotheses correlated to an energy source coming from the enveloped or wrapped Man, [and] others correlated to surface electrostatic discharges caused by an electric field". Since these hypotheses appear to invoke processes unknown to science, which presumably occur during a return from the dead, it’s technically true that science can’t disprove them – nor really say anything about them at all.

Some, however, are not deterred by that. Italian chemist Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua has proposed that the image might have been burnt into the upper layers of the cloth by a burst of "radiant energy" – bright light, ultraviolet light, X-rays or streams of fundamental particles – emanating from the body itself. Fanti cites the account of Christ’s Transfiguration, witnessed by Peter, John and James and recounted in Luke 9:29: "As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning." This is, to put it mildly, rather circumstantial evidence. But Fanti suggests we might at least test whether artificial sources of such radiation can produce a similar result on linen.

According Raymond Rogers, all kinds of pseudoscientific theories have been put forward that invoke some mysterious radiation, which not only made the image itself but distorted the radiocarbon dating. In general they start from the notion that the shroud must be genuine and work backwards from that goal, he said. Little has changed in the decade and more since Rogers made this complaint. But still it has to be said that the piece of cloth Pope Francis will venerate is genuinely and stubbornly perplexing.

Categories: Article, Press Coverage

Also Because of the Shroud of Turin

June 13, 2015 9 comments

imageMike Stechschulte writes in Port Huron’s The Times Herald Why I am and will remain a Catholic:

In light of the recent Pew survey showing Catholicism as the biggest loser in the nationwide exodus from organized religion, pundits from all corners of the woodwork have come out with their diagnoses (and in some cases, prognoses) regarding what ails Christianity, and Catholicism in particular.

There have been stories and opinions written by ex-Catholics, non-Catholics and never-will-be Catholics. But as a Catholic, rather than tell you all the reasons I think people are leaving the Catholic Church, let me tell you why I won’t.

[…]

I am a Catholic because of history, as well. Not only the history that shows the Gospels as the most trustworthy ancient documents we possess (with 25,000 existing manuscripts to check and cross-check for accuracy and authenticity), but the history since then, too. I am a Catholic because of the incorruptible saints, the Shroud of Turin, the thousands of unexplained healings in Lourdes, France, Fr. Solanus Casey’s care for the poor, Our Lady of Fatima, the miracle of the Eucharist and the powerful weakness of St. John Paul II’s dying breath.

Categories: Press Coverage

Double Dipping in the Ink Well?

May 11, 2015 2 comments

imageShortly after the Shroud Exposition opened in Turin, the story broke that Italian police had created a “forensic” picture of what Jesus looked like as a boy. They used the image on the shroud. The story overshadowed other exposition coverage.  The story made it into big daily papers around the world and into morning and nightly national television news. The picture is from ABC News a few days ago.

I repeated the story after reading about it in The Times (of London) with Computer Generated Young Jesus From Image on Shroud

Here is how Ariel Cohen wrote it up in the Jerusalem Post. It was syndicated out and many big name, high credibility papers like the San Francisco Chronicle repeated it:

Police detectives in Italy claim that they have revealed how Jesus looked as a child based on forensics from his supposed burial cloth.

The Turin Shroud, one of the most famous Christian relics to date, provided the scientists with an approximate image of Jesus’ face on the material. From there, scientists created an image, and reversed the aging process using cutting edge technology to reveal what Christ may have looked like as a young boy.

The scientists used the same technique often employed to capture Italian mafioso who have been on the run for decades. By reducing the size of the jaw, raising the chin and straightening the nose, the replica of Jesus as a boy became clear.

[…]

The digital image was created to go along with the displaying of the Turin Shroud’s two month public display which began this week at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin. Pope Francis is even expected to stop and pray before the cloth on June 21st.

(emphasis mine)

imageDid anyone notice?  Does anyone remember ten years back?  This forensic stuff was a Christmas Day story by Jason Horowitz in the New York Times in 2004. The second picture shown here to the right accompanied that story. (Of course, no one at the Grey Lady realized that this story had nothing to do with Christmas):

ROME, Dec. 25 – Using the same technology that adds wrinkles to the drawings of Mafia bosses to identify them after decades on the lam, the Italian police have shaved years, and a beard, off an image taken from the Shroud of Turin to create what newspapers here this week hailed as the very visage of a young Jesus.

"Here it is, the real face of the baby Jesus," declared the front page of the newspaper Il Giornale. Italy’s largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera, ran a more cautious headline, "Here Is Jesus at Age 12 (According to a Computer)."

Categories: Press Coverage

At the Heart of the Shroud Exposition is a Great Mystery

May 7, 2015 1 comment

Doubtless Pope Francis will have some arresting and unexpected things to say
when he arrives next month. . . .

imageThe Economist’s blog, Erasmus: Religion and Public Policy has published what I think may be so far the best exposition-time article on the shroud. The Shroud of Turin: Both visible and hidden is fair, perhaps more so than I unfairly expected when I began to read it:

And at the heart of all this activity is a great mystery. The last few popes have spoken of the shroud with awe and encouraged people to contemplate it, but the Vatican has in recent years avoided any pronouncement on whether the cloth really is the one that covered Jesus. In 1988, carbon-dating tests were carried out in laboratories in three countries, and concluded that the fabric had been constructed in the 13th or 14th century; it was a medieval fake. But believers in the shroud’s authenticity point to countervailing evidence: traces of pollen from plants found only in the east Mediterranean, for example. It has been argued that extraneous matter, or radioactivity, could have skewed the carbon-dating results.

To the naked eye, images of the front and back of a slim, dignified man are only dimly visible. But in certain ways, the picture on the Shroud has become more accessible over the past century or so, as it has been subjected to different forms of photographic analysis, and the three-dimensional qualities of the image have been studied. The image does correspond with the Biblical account of a man who was lashed all over his body with a particular kind of whip, commonly used in Roman times, and crowned with thorns which caused heavy bleeding. It also looks clear that the victim was hung up to die after nails were driven through his wrists, not his palms as most religious art would have it. If this was a forgery, it was an ingenious and anatomically intelligent one.

Do read it:  The Shroud of Turin: Both visible and hidden

Categories: Article, Press Coverage
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