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Archive for March, 2013

shroudstory12z[1]

New data using infrared light date the Shroud of Turin to the time of Jesus. This is heartening news for believers, as the new data are at odds with a 1988 carbon dating analysis which placed the age of the shroud at the 13th or 14th century.

Criticism of the 1988 study centers on the possibility that the small swatch of fabric taken from the shroud may have actually been a patch added around the time of the 13th century when a fire scorched parts of the folded shroud. Could the scientists in 1988 have made such a methodological blunder?

Sure.

But even if they didn’t, and if they took a swatch of the original cloth, there is still an interprative blunder that has been made regarding the carbon dating data. First, a brief explanation of exactly what happens in carbon dataing.

The procedure is simple. A sample is placed in a test tube and burned. The resulting carbon is analyzed and the amount of radioactive carbon (carbon-14) is measured compared to non-radioactive carbon (carbon-12).

How the dating is performed is based upon the fact that radioactive carbon (carbon-14) decays by half at a steady rate of every 5,730 years in what is known as its half-life. So, for instance, if we start with a pound of C-14 today, 5,730 years from today one-half of it would have decayed, leaving a half-pound of C-14. In another 5,730 years there would be 1/4 pound remaining. 5,730 years after that, 1/8 pound would remain, and so forth.

Living organisms incorporate C-14 from the atmosphere and serve as the baseline for the C-14 content that is measured in fossils and other archaeological artifacts. By comparing the C-14 content of an archaeological sample with the avaerage C-14 content of a comparably weighted modern organism, one may establish the age of the sample.

So, to use round and simple numbers, if a modern sample of human bone contains 5 nanograms of C-14, and a sample from bone found in an archaeological dig contains 2.5 nanograms of C-14, then the bone is approximately 5,700 years old. If the C-14 content of the found bone is 1.25 nanograms, then it is approximately 11,400 years old.

The same method holds true for dating cloth.

In the case of the 1988 carbon-dating of the Shroud, assuming that an original piece of the Shroud was tested, and assuming that the Shroud indeed dates from the time of Jesus, how could the results be off by 1,300 years? How could there be more C-14 present than there should have been?

A variable I have never heard mentioned is the fire that scorched the Shroud. Recall that C-14 analysis requires the burning of the sample to produce a readily analyzable sample of carbon. That fire carried soot from the church, and produced soot from the burned portions of the Shroud which deposited and permeated into the fabric of the Shroud. Add to that the soot from burning candles in churches and private halls in all the years the Shroud was opened and venerated.

All of this soot carries C-14 which, when deposited in the fabric of the Shroud, would artificially push up the age of the Shroud when C-14 analysis is performed. For example, suppose a sample of the Shroud ought to contain 1 nanogram of C-14 if it were from the time of Jesus. Soot deposits would actually raise the amount of C-14 present in the sample, leading researchers to believe that the sample is from more recent times.

Of course, even if all of the scientific evidence were to date the Shroud to Jesus’ day, science can never, ever ascertain that the image it contains is that of Jesus. But that is not important. What matters above all is faith, not so much in the image of a dead Jesus impressed in fabric, but in the sure and certain knowledge that He rose again and lives.

That singular reality is what has changed the world, offered hope to billions, and is the focal point of today’s Easter joy.

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torch[1]

A review of the Popes in the twentieth century find them fighting a fierce battle against the forces of secularism, atheism, and malevolance that have consumed Western Civilization. Collectively these forces, referred to as “Modernity,” are merely contemporary expressions of the evils that have collapsed empires and civilizations for thousands of years. The election of our new Holy Father, Francis, must be evaluated in light of the twentieth century popes, beginning with Pius XI.

Just a few months after the Lambeth Conference of 1930, where the Anglicans opened the door to contraception, Pope Pius XI issued Casti Connubii, the great defense of marriage that resonates especially today in the United States:

Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

How great is the dignity of chaste wedlock, Venerable Brethren, may be judged best from this that Christ Our Lord, Son of the Eternal Father, having assumed the nature of fallen man, not only, with His loving desire of compassing the redemption of our race, ordained it in an especial manner as the principle and foundation of domestic society and therefore of all human intercourse, but also raised it to the rank of a truly and great sacrament of the New Law, restored it to the original purity of its divine institution, and accordingly entrusted all its discipline and care to His spouse the Church.

5. And to begin with that same Encyclical, which is wholly concerned in vindicating the divine institution of matrimony, its sacramental dignity, and its perpetual stability, let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves. This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture;[2] this is the constant tradition of the Universal Church; this the solemn definition of the sacred Council of Trent, which declares and establishes from the words of Holy Writ itself that God is the Author of the perpetual stability of the marriage bond, its unity and its firmness.[3]

Pius XI’s successor, Pius XII would famously condemn Nazism and help orchestrate the rescue of Jews, going on to win the universal praise of Europe’s Jews both during and immediately after World War II. The greatness of the man and his actions would only be rivaled by the magnitude of the calumny against him a generation later by a socialist playwright.

Pius XII responded more in action than by Encyclical, and 80% of the priests and religious of eastern Europe paid with their lives for the response of the Church through the sheltering of Jews.

Pope John XXIII set the Church on the course toward engaging the world in a new and fresh manner by calling for the Second Vatican Council. Himself a veteran of the First World War, as stretcher bearer and chaplain, John served Pius XII as Cardinal during the Second World War, orchestrating the rescue of Jews. During his papacy, as reported by Wiki:

In 1965, the Catholic Herald quoted Pope John as saying:

We are conscious today that many, many centuries of blindness have cloaked our eyes so that we can no longer see the beauty of Thy chosen people nor recognise in their faces the features of our privileged brethren. We realize that the mark of Cain stands upon our foreheads. Across the centuries our brother Abel has lain in blood which we drew, or shed tears we caused by forgetting Thy love. Forgive us for the curse we falsely attached to their name as Jews. Forgive us for crucifying Thee a second time in their flesh. For we know what we did.”[6]

In the time between the Lambeth Conference of 1930, and 1968, the year it seemed the world was teetering on the brink of anarchy, the world had seen WWII, the Holocaust, Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Wars to end colonialism around the world, a rash of assasinations, the advent of the sexual revolution, Margaret Sanger’s Negro Project, the eugenic sterilizations of scores of thousands of humans, the development of the birth control pill, and the complete abandonment of the unified condemnation of contraception by all of Christendom except for the Catholic Church.

In that year of 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed 2,000 years of Catholic Christian teaching on the right use of sex in marriage, and which underscored Casti Connubii. Five years later the United States would adopt legalized abortion, going on to slaughter 56 million babies, adding to the 1.8 Billion abortions worldwide since 1960.

In that time, a little-known bishop from behind the Iron Curtain would write an even less well-known book, Love and Responsibility. He would follow Paul VI as John Paul II, who would take on radical feminism, communism, capitalism, and the sexual revolution in the most intellectually and theologically proliferative pontificates of all time.

Along the way, the formality of the Papacy began to change. John XXIII dropped the regal “we” when visting youth in institutions, using the more personal, “I”. The Second Vatican Council changed a great deal, and Paul VI ended the practice of papal coronations. John Paul II eschewed a great deal of formality and reveled in the presence of youth.

Pope Benedict XVI eliminated the papal tiarra from the papal coat of arms, a practice maintained by Pope Francis, who has also eschewed the use of the papal apartment, wearing of the Apostolic Stole during his first appearance, and has adopted a host of other less formal and common touches.

While the papacy has undergone something of an informal transformation in recent decades, the responses of the popes have only grown firmer and more frequent in the face of Europe’s and America’s civilizational collapse. Benedict made an outreach to Europe the thrust of his papacy, an attempt to convert the cradle of Christianity from the embrace of ‘modernity’ and return her to her former dignity and glory.

He was roundly rebuffed, and so the torch has been passed to the brown peoples of the Southern Hemisphere where the Church is alive and growing, where nations battle against United States and European demands for legalization of abortion, gay marriage and contraception as prerequisites for financial aid.

From this hemisphere comes a pope who rode the bus to work, eschewed a palace in favor of a small apartment, and who cooked his own meals. He was the bishop of an impoverished people and sees the world somewhat differently than those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. He will not bend to us, but bend us to his vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a shepherd whose people’s plight has been largely unseen by America and Europe.

Pope Francis has dealt with the evil of poverty and the evil of a United States and Europe who have tried to leverage his people’s poverty by coupling the abandonment of the faith as a prerequisite for foreign aid. There will be many who find his approach difficult to bear. Wounded pride will be the leaven of that difficulty.

Those in the media and on the left who are praising his simplicity will be disappointed, bitterly so, when that does not translate into an embrace of a “liberal” agenda. This Pope, like his predecessors, begins from where his predecessors have left off. It is too early to say where he will place his emphasis, but I suspect that the artificial dichotomy between the life issues championed by the orthodox wing of the Church, and the social justice issues championed by the anarchist wing, may well be reunited by a Pope uniquely positioned to do so.

We in the north have largely abandoned the faith. It will be interesting to see how the south leads now that the light of faith and universal leadership has been handed to them.

Time will tell.

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Caiaphas Then… and Now

Duccio-di-Buoninsegna-Christ-Before-Caiaphas-Oil-Painting[1]

During the singing of the passion today I sat and contemplated something I’d heard a thousand times and never really gave much thought: St. John tells us it was Caiaphas the High Priest who first floated the idea to the Jewish people the advantage of having one man die for the people. Immediately a thousand pro-choice arguments along similar lines crowded in on me.

Caiaphas was the High Priest, the mediator between God and man, the one who offered animal sacrifice for the remission of the people’s sins, for the Mercy of God. Somewhere along the way Caiaphas lost his faith in God, and he eventually became no better than the Canaanite priests who offered human sacrifice to appease the gods. Caiaphas would offer a man to the Romans, and in so doing he would elevate Caesar above the one true God of the universe.

For Caiaphas, Caesar alone had the power to save and deliver, and he would be offered a human sacrifice in exchange by God’s High Priest. That’s stunning.

The complete perversion and implosion of the priesthood. The God who delivered Israel repeatedly, who blessed Israel abundantly was abandoned by his own High Priest.

Why?

It’s easy to cast stones at old Caiaphas. He’s the villain of today’s narrative, but he’s also pretty tame by today’s standard. In truth, we’ve eclipsed Caiaphas long ago.

The main reason(s) for sacrificing the most innocent of our age have much to do with Caiaphas’ theme of blood sacrifice for material benefit. In the inner-city the narrative is that babies keep girls from becoming all they can be, that they hold girls back from completing education. With 20 million dead Black babies in 40 years, the Ivy League colleges ought to have annexes in Harlem, Watts, and Detroit.

Better the babies should die, that the mothers might live.

However, the truth is that these centers of slaughter are more violent, squalid, and desperately poor than ever before. That’s the real payout from blood sacrifice of humans.

Today’s high priest in the White House has ordained through his healthcare plan that people at age 75 or older may not receive cancer treatments or pacemakers if the physicians can’t guarantee at least five more years of quality life. Such rationing also saves quite a bit of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and government pension benefits for a nation that is dead broke.

Better for them to die that the nation might live.

Caiaphas let Satan lead him into the death cult mentality, and we have followed suit. Thirty-seven years after Caiaphas sold out, the Temple in Jerusalem was leveled by those same Romans to whom Jesus was offered as a peace offering. Thirty-seven years after the embrace of legalized abortion (beginning in New York) we were saddled with a president who has torn down the pillars of American society.

That’s the price of embracing human sacrifice to appease Satan and his lies.

That’s the price of turning one’s back on God.

False gods have a nasty way of enslaving their followers, as Americans are beginning to learn.

But Easter’s coming…

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tightrope

Yesterday North Dakota became the first state in the Union to pass a personhood ammendment that covers humans in their embryonic stages of development. Read it here at HuffPo. For all the work involved in getting to this day, the easy part is over, and the real fight lies ahead.

The lesislation, SCR4009, states:

“The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

While this amendment is beautiful in its absolutist elegance, it presents the Pro-life Movement with a constellation of challenges in selling this proposed amendment to the North Dakota voters who must now vote to ratify it. That won’t be an easy sell when the voters move past the noble principle and consider the specific applications in the lives and reproductive health of North Dakota’s women.

The first objection that will need to be overcome is what is to be done in the case of ectopic pregnancy, which occurs at a rate of 19.7 per 1,000 in North America. This is no small question, as even pro-lifers are split on the approach to this potentially fatal condition. All would agree that it is out of tyhe question to sit back and let nature take its course. Read here for a good article about ectopic pregnancy.

While many case spontaneously resolve, with the embryo being resorbed by the mother’s body, many do not. In the case of tubal pregnancies there are two basic approaches, only one of which is morally acceptable to Catholics. The first, and morally unacceptable method, is to treat the mother with drugs such as methotrexate, which target the baby for death. Proponents of this method prefer it, as it preserves the Fallopian tube for future pregnancy.

The direct targeting of the baby is morally unacceptable to Roman Catholics, leaving salpingotomy (removing the tube with the baby inside), as the only morally acceptable solution. This approach satisfies the moral principle of Double-Effect, which according to the David Solomon article just linked states:

four conditions [need to] be met if the action in question is to be morally permissible: first, that the action contemplated be in itself either morally good or morally indifferent; second, that the bad result not be directly intended; third, that the good result not be a direct causal result of the bad result; and fourth, that the good result be “proportionate to” the bad result.

A question that arises is whether Catholic pro-lifers are willing to endorse methotrexate over salpingotomy in the case of ectopic pregnancy. If not, count on the other side arguing that we are trying to force our morality on the public through this amendment. When asked, how will we respond?

Will fidelity to our moral compass fracture the absolutist tone of the amendment’s language? If so, what other concessions will be sought and made? How rapidly will personhood be eviscerated?

These questions require answers now, today, as North Dakota voters are forming their impressions as we speak.

More potential objections and exceptions in Part II.

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Forestfirehires

There is good news in North Dakota this week as the legislature there has passed two bills: one outlawing gender-selective and eugenic abortions rooted in genetic anomalies, and the other outlawing abortion once a heartbeat is detectable. Get the N.Y. Times story here.

This news comes hot on the heels of Arizona’s banning abortions at 12 weeks, and adds to the victories in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, which have banned sex-selective abortions. While this is all good news, we must stop and consider what is happening here, what is being accomplished, and how far we have fallen.

There was a time when the American Civil Liberties Union actually championed the rights of the weakest and least among us to the fullest protection of the law. Times have changed, as we’ve seen last week in North Dakota. From the Times article:

“We urge the governor to veto all of these bills to ensure that this personal and private decision can be made by a woman and her family, not politicians sitting in the Capitol,” said Jennifer Dalven, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

But again, and again, the central issue remains the great unanswered question, one which Ms. Dalven and her organization would have answered with ease in a bygone era:

Do politicians sitting in the capital, or judges in courtrooms have the right to determine who among us is human and what the criteria for being considered human ought to be?

This isn’t a religious question, but a civil one, and hinging on it is nothing less than the fate of American jurisprudence, as well as scientific and biomedical ethics. Before one can pass a law, make a legal judgement, or perform a scientific or clinical manipulation, one must first determine the identity and status of the object under consideration.

People of reason and good will recoil at the consideration of our slave-holding past in America. They similarly recoil at our segregationist past, as well as our past with eugenic sterilization. All of these issues are repellent to the ACLU as well, and as Ms. Dalven would have to agree, these issues scorched the American landscape precisely because the legislators sitting in capitals failed to rein in justices and judges who were out of control.

Ms. Dalven would also have to agree that these issues scorched the American landscape precisely because a political elite arrogated to themselves the power to define personhood criteria. This was done as the sole means of usurping the ability to control those rights defined by the Founders as unalienable and granted solely by the Creator.

Having abandoned the protection of the weakest among us and championing the “rights” of those who prey upon the weak, the ACLU has gutted itself. In championing the right to murder little girls for being little girls, and for championing the murder of the genetically imperfect, the ACLU has become indistinguishible from the slaveholding and segregationist class it once despised and against whom it found its organizational identity.

Such is the malevolent power of abortion to corrupt.

In Roe v. Wade the justices argued that the absence of scientific evidence supporting a definitive beginning of life was their rationale for permitting abortion. Using arguments from the Middle Ages, such as ‘quickening’, they ignored the embryology texts of their day that fixed the beginning of human life at fertilization. With the advances in embryoscopy and ultrasonography today one would think that the last vestige of doubt would have been destroyed by science, warranting a revisiting of Roe by the Court; but that would require intellectual honesty and human decency.

Instead, today, forty years later we are now arguing the right to target what science shows as fully formed human beings because of their genetalia, or because of some atypical genetic constellation.

Instead,, today, forty years later Planned Parenthood has dropped the euphemisms such as “pro-choice,” no longer seeing them as necessary or servicable.

Similarly, the attempts to defeat the fetal heartbeat bills bespeak a duplicity from the outset. What can be more human or romantic than the sound of a beating heart?

Taken together, those are profoundly troubling developments. We have defined deviancy down. We are arguing over a degree of malevolance that makes the original argument pale in comparison.

The Democrat Party defeated attempts in Congress last year to outlaw sex-selective abortions. In those and other similar measures, both they and the ACLU have abandoned the moral high ground. Let’s hope that the Republican governor of North Dakota has the courage to pick up the fallen battle standard of the left and soldier on.

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HABEMUS PAPAM!!

APTOPIX-Vatican-Pope-Francis

Mark Shea shares an delicious pearl from our new Holy Father:

In the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America, Cardinal Bergoglio commented on the worthiness of individuals to receive the Eucharist. The text states in paragraph 436 that, “We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”

images

We’ll see how this plays out here in the U.S. in the months to come, but there can be no mistake about the Holy Father’s position. As the Culture of Death continues its acceleration, we have come to the end of dialogue, posturing, and semantic games; the end of the diplomatic charade on the left. The souls of our Catholic leaders on the left are in peril, and Cardinal Bergolio has defined for the Church the proper disposition for approaching Holy Communion.

Sorry, Nancy, but you need to make a choice. Eternal salvation, or a few more years of temporal power.

Choose wisely.

We’re praying for you.

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