Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clumsy me and the Shroud of Turin

Once, while reporting a debate I  participated in some years ago, the New York Law Journal referred to me as the “most avuncular” of the participants. I was a little upset because it looked like a reference to my weight, which wasn’t that bad until I looked the word up. Avuncular means “uncle like, a tendency to make points by telling stories”(or perhaps to bore relatives to death). I took satisfaction in that because in history, two of the most avuncular personalities were Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ. To make their points, Christ told parables and Lincoln told jokes – some of which, if you saw the recent movie or read any of his biographies, were a bit uncouth. I was in good company.

Right now in the course of drafting my manuscript, I am struggling a bit to capture the flavor of the scientific miracle that was the 120 hours of scientific analysis by STURP in Turin. I am particularly taken by the tale of aragonite limestone being found. But first let me tell MY story.

As some may know, my wife Rene and I have a particular empathetic but rambunctious Yellow Labrador Retriever  named Bogart. One morning a week or so ago I was walking “Bogie” and  he had a confrontation with another dog (unusual for him), He jerked the leash hard and I fell forward,  landing flat on the sidewalk. I suffered as a result an abrasion on my right knee and  a slight one on the tip of my nose.  Neither was a big deal.

Later, when I was reviewing the 120 hours, I came across one of the most significant finds (I now believe) of the research in that time period. I smiled a bit in recognition of what I was reading.

The Gilberts were running spectrographic analysis of the Shroud. They came across some anomalies and found that they were on the soles of the feet, one knee and the tip of the nose of  the Man in the Shroud. Sam Pellicori who was the chief microscope person on the STURP team was called in to check and see if he could find what the problem was. He found it quickly. There was dirt on the soles of the feet, one knee and the nose. The dirt on the soles of the feet indicated that he was barefoot on his way to his crucifixion. The nose and the knee were likely from a fall, as tradition has held, he did.

Most importantly, perhaps, scientific analysis of the dirt, which was picked-up by chemist Ray Rogers from the points on the Shroud, indicated that it was a specific, rare form of aragonite limestone, found only so far in the area of Jerusalem.

Obviously, my minor discomfort is nothing compared to the agony He suffered on the way of the Cross. But I can attest from personal experience, if you fall flat on your face, your knee and your nose are likely to be bruised. The evidence of just such injuries on the Shroud, while small and petty compared to the gross suffering inflicted on him, is one more item of the myriad of circumstances attesting to the authenticity of the Shroud.

The Shroud a product of forgery? As we say in New York, forget-about-it. You can’t make this stuff up. (I hope He has a sense of humor, Lincoln did.)

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