Monday, December 23, 2013

A Blessed Christmas from Boris Pasternak.

When I first read Doctor Zhivago I was struck by the power of its underlying theme: that Christianity transfigured human existence to the divine by reason of the birth, life and death of the God made man, Jesus Christ. That the great mysteries of Christianity were the elements of everyone's life. A child is conceived and born. We eat bread and drink wine. We suffer and we die. By reason of Christ's divinity each one of these mundane facts of life are rendered divine.

Nothing expressed the thought better than Zvivago's contemplation of his wife's pregnancy. The babe referred to is masculine, but the sentiment applies to every man and woman of woman born.

“The mother of God is asked to ‘pray zealously to her son and her God,’ and the words of the Psalm are put into her mouth: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold from henceforth all generation shall call me blessed.’ It is because of her child that she says this, He will magnify her (‘For he that is mighty hath done to me great things’): He is her glory. Any woman could say it. For every one of them, God is in her child. Mothers of great men must have been familiar with this feeling, but then, all women are mothers of great men - it isn't their fault if life disappoints them later."

Merry Christmas.
This is not a promo for my book "Quantum Christ" but if you are interested:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Two Popes and a Priest: Someone's let the Holy Spirit get loose

I have never been deep into the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since I was taught as a child that nobody including St. Augustine could understand it, I really haven't tried. But some times, I get this feeling like this morning that someone has set him lose. Bill O'Reilly claims he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write his new book "Killing Jesus" which I understand pictures Jesus among other things leading a tax revolt against the Romans. That's not quite the way I read scripture. It was the money changers in the Temple (a veritable free market) that most caught Christ's ire. O'Reilly stands to make millions from his book. Perhaps he's mixed-up about what kind of spirit actually motivates him.

Every morning when I arise whether it's at 5:00AM, yesterday (after 4.5 hours sleep) or at 5:45AM today after 6.45 hours sleep (Can't stand Bill Maher much and Alex Baldwin (who I met once) is not my cup of tea) and check my E-Mail. Among other things I am on an E-Mail alert from the NY Times for articles on the Catholic Church. Today, was a humdinger. One of the articles I can not help but comment (Church to poll Catholics on attitudes on social Issues such as contraception, abortion and gay rights) and the other matter suggested by that is an immodest proposal: Sainthood for two deserving clerics: (And a little thanksgiving for a third soon to be canonized) .

I know to non-Catholics and  ex-Catholics, the whole  sainthood thing is a bit too much and, particularly when it comes to the recent trend of clerical canonizations (i.e. Pope John Paul II).a bit overdone. I guess I who is belligerently remaining in the Church would agree. In fact I just wrote it (supra).

The late Father Robert Poveromo who passed away last year was close to our family, particularly my late son Michael. In fact in one of our last conversation, Mike told me that Father Poveromo had agreed to be is personal confessor. I remarked to “Father Bob” that I felt that the greatest of saints since the time of the Apostles was St. Francis and he responded “Some of us think he was the only saint.

It was with some satisfaction that I noted the intent of POPE Francis to join the canonization of Pope John XXIII with that of John Paul II, his half namesake, half in name only, Now maybe, it’s time to get into the game for I propose the beatification of two clerics: Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (Pope Pius XI) and Fr. Peter Rinaldi, either of which could rightfully (if not jointly) be called “Patron Saint of the Holy Shroud.

This is not a place to begin a long conversation about the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. I believe the evidence is convincing to the  near beyond reasonable doubt plateau. I say that as a lawyer who has just won a substantial jury verdict for a client where I had to grapple with issues like circumstantial evidence. Peter, Achille and  John and John pray for my client (and me) that survives an appeal. If it is the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, it is the most important object on the face of the earth.

Pius XI, the Shroud of Turin and the Jews

There are two outstanding accomplishments of Pius XI that argue for his sagacity, if not his sanctity. Let’s take the Shroud first. As a young man, Achille had climbed the Alps with  with another young adventurer, Paul Vignon. Vignon suffered a physical and nervous breakdown. While recuperating who took of painting and later worked as a assistant to the famous French biologist Yves Delage. Delage asked Vignon to investigate the authenticity of  the Pia photographs and the rest is history (covered in my manuscript in Chapters Five (Maelstrom) and Six (Resurrection of the Shroud).

It was as Pius XI, that he requested the 1933 exposition of the Shroud and it was at that exhibition a young Turinese seminarian, Peter Rinaldi encountered both Paul Vignon and future giant of Shroud studies Pierre Barbet.

Perhaps Pius XI most acclaimed act occurred during his dying days in 1938 when working with an American Jesuit priest he prepared an encyclical denouncing the Nazi’s for the their incipient Jewish pogrom and the neo-paganism which they represented. His secretary of state of Cardinal Pacelli who became Pius XII was not pleased. He has been also proposed for sainthood by Vatican clerics but since I can not say anything good about him, I’ll remain silent.

Peter Rinaldi after graduating from the seminary came to America. He publicized the Shroud in an article  published in US Sign Magazine while he was  still in seminary. His article created a firestorm of interest in the United States and led directly to the formation of the Hold Shroud Guild in the US. I will simply state that without Rinaldi’s tireless leadership and encouragement there might not have been a film Silent Witness and there certainly would not have been a STURP scientific investigation of the Shroud in 1978. It was his unique position as a priest in the US with connections in Turin that was instrumental but most instrumental perhaps was his gift for finding funds to finance both the STURP and Silent Witness.

I don’t think that I need add anything about John XXIII, he’s going to be canonized.

While your about if you are so inclined say a prayer for Rev. Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman charged with explaining Pope Francis while  he stays on the same page as Pope Francis. That’s a tough job. Compared his charge, the toughest jobs in the US (President and Mayor of NYC) are a walk in the [Central] park.

His most recent exercise was explaining that the Francis’ call for a poll on the attitudes towards controversial social issues wasn’t a big deal. Lombardi tried to downplay its importance. He didn’t do too well.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Let’s lift a glass to the late John Cardinal O’Connor

As some who was critical about Cardinal John O’Connor’s intervention in the 1984 Presidential election, I came to an understanding of him that was almost, but not quite admiration. A couple of things altered my opinion. First and foremost was his palpable and public outrage at the murder of three nuns and a lay worker by a right wing death squad in El Salvador. The Vatican ignored them, Cardinal O’Connor did not.

Then there was his attitudes toward Gay rights. What the Gay community never really understood was that O’Connor was not a free agent in the controversy, but had obligations to Rome that came with his office.

Two things stand out to me: one was the creation of the Terrance Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center on Fifth Avenue, across the avenue from Central Park. While the Center’s web cite now states a broader message, it was first and foremost when it was founded a health care center for AIDS patients. There were stories about O’Connor volunteering to do menial tasks at the center as an example of compassion for the afflicted.

That’s one plus. But there is another, the name of the Center. Cardinal Cooke was personal secretary to Cardinal Spellman who was a lion in the Church during his regime and the first to be labeled “the American Pope.” He was also a practicing homosexual. He used to spend weekends on Roy Cohn’s yacht. Cook’s reign as Cardinal was relatively short. He died in office of what was officially called “throat cancer.” Many believe it was  AIDS and I at first though there was irony in O’Connor’s naming the Church’s AIDS center for him.

I came to believe that I was wrong. O’Connor was a retired Navy Admiral, he didn’t do irony. As Cardinal, he would have been well-informed as to the true nature of Cooke’s condition.

Not only did O’Connor name the AIDS center for Cooke, he proposed Cooke for sainthood.

Today, there was a brief reminder of what a complex man O’Connor was in New York Times. The article concerns the fact that despite the huffing and puffing of current Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the “outrage” of Obamacare requiring Catholic hospitals to offer insurance plans that include contraception as a paid service, that for more three decades the New York Archdiocese hospitals have offered such insurance..

Who was the Catholic prelate who acquiesced to this outrage? Here’s what an Archdiocese spokesman told the times:

“Mr. Zwilling, the spokesman for the New York archdiocese, said that Cardinal John J. O’Connor and the archdiocese “objected to these services’ being included in the National Benefit Fund’s health insurance plan” when joining the league in the 1990s. But the cardinal then decided “there was no other option if the Catholic Church was to continue to provide health care to these union-affiliated employees in the city of New York,” Mr. Zwilling said.”

Further the deponent sayeth not.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Pope Francis shows his grit

Like many in the US, I was disappointed that the Vatican is continuing its efforts to reign in American nuns. Then, I learned today something that to me, is startling, inspiring, edifying and maybe a little stunning. The Vatican is proceeding with the possible beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador who was executed by a right wing death squad while saying Mass in 1980. Previously, the beatification process had been blocked.

To me, there could be no greater indictment of the Vatican than a perceived indifference, if not open hostility, to the Catholic martyrs of Central America in the 1980s. They included six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and the housekeeper’s child. Then there were the four women, three nuns and lay health worker who brutally kidnapped, beaten, raped and then murdered by the El Salvador National Guard.

There was a report that when Benedict XVIth visited Central America and at the edge of the crowd some demonstrators for the martyrs sought his attention, he was told by his local escorts to pay them no mind, they were “communists.”

Although there were some reasons to be optimistic about Pope Francis, there were also some qualms. He had been an outspoken  opponent of “liberation theology” for example. The pronouncement on the American nuns was not a promising sign.

However, whatever his reservations about liberation theology, this development augurs well. It is no small thing and I expect the reactionaries will soon be at open war on his papacy.

If you believe in prayer, pray for him. And if you don’t believe in prayer, at least cross your fingers.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013: Christ, Kennedy and Lincoln

For the past two years we have been celebrating day by day the 150th anniversary of events in the Civil War. This year is  huge. There is the horrific Union loss at Chancellorsville followed by the turning point victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July, followed by the Gettysburg address at which Lincoln  redefined our  Nation, turning us toward the fundamental values of the Declaration of Independence.

This is also the fiftieth anniversary of two events of the JFK presidency. The first was the June speech at American University in DC where he first publicly proposed a ban on the atmospheric testing of Atomic weapons. Both he and Khrushchev had looked into the abyss the previous year during the Cuban Missile Crisis and knew the desperate path the World was trodding toward nuclear annihilation.

Kennedy's speech is best remembered by this phrase about the need for US-Soviet cooperation:

For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

Kennedy lost the White House on November 22, 1963. There is substantial evidence that he did plan to pull of Vietnam after the 1964 election and already had drafted an order to pull back our commitment. All that ended in Dallas, His successor gave the military-industrial complex the war it wanted.

Lincoln finally won his war in 1865. He visited vanquished Richmond but a week later he too was assassinated.

I have come to believe the enduring truth of the Christian faith (or myth, if that suits you) is not the resurrection but its transfiguring of all human experience into the divine. Lincoln and Kennedy both enjoyed great triumphs before their assassins struck. The cheers in Dallas were still ringing in JFK’s ears when all went black.

Today is Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of an donkey. Cheers were ringing also in his ears. Then came the crucifixion and three days of black for his disciples. And then came Easter morning and the witness of Mary Magdalene that some thing  marvelous had happened.

Today is Palm Sunday and we can not forget even as we celebrate that Good Friday lies only five days in the future. But then two days more and it is Easter.

I close with a quotation from Elaine Pagels, author of the Gnostic Gospels:

“In its portrait of Christ’s life and his passion, orthodox teaching offered a means of interpreting fundamental elements of human experience. Rejecting the gnostic view that Jesus was a spiritual being, the orthodox insisted that he, like the rest of humanity, was born, lived in a family, became hungry and tired, ate and drank wine, suffered and died. They even went so far as to insist that he rose bodily from the dead. Here again, as we have seen, orthodox tradition implicitly affirms bodily experience as the central fact of human life. What one does physically—one eats and drinks, engages in sexual life or avoids it, saves one’s life or gives it up—all are vital elements in one’s religious development. But those gnostics who regarded the essential part of every person as the “inner spirit” dismissed such physical experience, pleasurable or painful, as a distraction from spiritual reality—indeed, as an illusion. No wonder, then, that far more people identified with the orthodox portrait than with the “bodiless spirit” of gnostic tradition. Not only the martyrs, but all Christians who have suffered for 2,000 years, who have feared and faced death, have found their experience validated in the story of the human Jesus.”[i]

We in this generation are blessed with a new revelation. His Shroud which not only registers the fact of His crucifixion, but whispers the hope of his Resurrection, and ours.

[i] Pagels, Elaine (2004-06-29). The Gnostic Gospels (p. 99). Random House. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The image on the Turin Shroud: Is a laser like light the explanation?

There is debate among individuals who study the Shroud of Turin as to whether or not the image of a crucified man that appears on it is a scorch. I think one of the problems when discussing the scorch theory is defining a scorch. In common parlance, perhaps all of parlance, a scorch is the result of extreme heat. However,  pure light can have effects that mimic a scorch when it ages something - as it can do. 

Most of the arguments against a "scorch" theory involve the fact that has conventionally understood a scorch is caused by intense heat. Thus there are real scorch marks cause by the fire in the sixteenth century. The intriguing point was the finding of the Gilberts who examined the Shroud in 1978, that spectra of the Shroud image was identical to the spectra of the lightest parts of the scorch.

In the past two years, I have had cataracts removed from each of my eyes (I have only two, alas). My eyesight has been vastly improved, particularly my night vision. The tool used by the surgeon was not a scalpel but a laser. There was no subsidiary damage caused by the laser. 

The term laser is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." If a laser, which is pure light, can be modulated enough to remove tissue from an eye and cause no collateral damage, then the possibility that a laser like light could provide a process that would have "scorched" an image unto the Shroud ought to be considered until another proven method is demonstrated. 

The detail of the image is probably not as fine as the laser that removed my cataracts, or it may be finer. But my cataract removal indicates that a laser can function in very finite spaces and effect human tissue with no collateral damage.

Of course that didn't have lasers circa the 30 CE (AD) or later in 1350. I have a "simple" proposition. There are no scientifically supporter theories of the "method" of transfer of the image to the cloth. Any explanation of forger is very complex and actually so far as we have come, impossible. Thomas de Wesellow  claims that Christ's post-Resurrection appearances were all  expositions of the Shroud. He offers no convincing explanation of image formation. 

Applying Occam's razor, could it be that the "simplest explanation" of the image is in fact the Resurrection? 

The story of Genesis in the first book of the Bible and the introduction to the Gospel of St. John all revolve around light. Could it be that these stories, while not history have in fact a seemingly incredible insight: "And god said, let there be light and there was light." Christ is the alpha and the omega. Light was the Alpha, is his Resurrection and perhaps our own, the Omega.

Monday, March 11, 2013

John Heller and the Shroud of Turin Research Project

Let us now sing the praises of famous men [and women]
                                                                        Ben Sira 44 1

Anyone who is serious about current research on the Shroud, sooner or later, reaches out to Barrie Schwortz, the documentary photographer of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and webmaster of I expect they get referred by Barrie  (as  I was) to Dr. John Heller’s intimate look at STURP in action: “Report on the Shroud of Turin,” Macmillan, New York 1983. It’s available used on Amazon if you can’t locate it anywhere else.

I am concluding that part of my work in progress focusing on the pre-Carbon-14 period of the Shroud and will be moving on from the formal STURP process of 1975-1981. This post is not intended to encapsulate their work, but as I read Dr. Heller’s final tribute to his colleagues I was struck by its beauty and relevance to today, when the Shroud world appears to be split into sometime competing duchies.

 Although on a vastly smaller scale, I am reminded in reading of the STURP collaboration of the collaboration that created the atomic bomb (except that STURP team wasn't paid).. If anyone wants to know how an adventuresome scientific collaboration into new, untested waters ought to work, this book is a place to start. But. enough of my drivel. Here is how the late Dr. Heller put it:

"We do know, however, that there are thousands upon thousands of pieces of funerary linen going back two millennia before Christ and another huge number of linens of Coptic Christian burials. On none of these is there any image of any kind. A few have some blood and stains on them, but no image.

"However, there are some remarkable aspects to this voyage of discovery.

"The team itself – its formation, cohesion, diversity, collaboration, as well as its sacrifice of time, talent and treasure – is unique in scientific annals.

"The role of 'coincidence' is awesome.

"Science undertook its specialty, which is measurement. We were supremely confident that the answers would – indeed must – be forthcoming. And we fail.

"Many team members were ordered or threatened to desist from the project, yet they persevered. Though it was believed that there would be a confrontation between science and religion, none occurred. Rather the relationship was harmonious and synergistic.

"All of us have been changed by the project I believe we have grown.
Some years ago, a friend of mine said to me in exasperation, "Heller, why don't you spend less time in Athens and more in Jerusalem?"

"I find the Acropolis much less interesting these days."

R.I.P. Dr. John H. Heller
This is not a promo for my book "Quantum Christ" but if you are interested:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Evidence and the Shroud of Turin

There was an article in the Denver Post dated March 3, 2013, which reported on a lecture by scientist Rudy Dichtl who was a part of the research group which examined the Shroud in 1978 and conducted extensive scientific tests. The tests established that the Shroud contained blood and a mysterious still inexplicable image of a crucified man. There was doubt shed on the claim that the man was Jesus Christ by C-14 carbon tests from a corner of the Shroud but there has been substantial “factual” doubt about the validity of those test that are explained in the Denver Post article. 
Yet, he says that as scientist, it can’t be said that it has been proven to be the burial cloth of Christ. Rudy Dichtl has made great contributions but there is a point where we have to make decisions on the evidence available. Based upon all the evidence available, the Shroud is a burial cloth of Jesus Christ. It is a matter of probabilities. How many Jews were crucified in 30-33 CE who claimed to be the Messiah?
That is the specific event we are considering. Best bet is probably only one, but I would like to challenged on that with specific cases if they exist. Saying there MAY have been others when there is no historical evidence of any others in that time period does not create doubt, reasonable or otherwise.

Yes, there were other individuals who claimed to be the Messiah, but how many were crucified by the Romans circa 30 CE (AD). The Roman historian Tacitus noted that "Christus" was executed by Pontius Pilot at that time period but that the execution didn't put an end to his superstition which spread to Rome where 20 or so years later Nero launched his persecution of the Christians that ultimately took the lives of Peter and Paul.


It's circumstantial evidence - you betcha. But every year in the United States people are convicted of crimes and sometimes executed on the basis of circumstantial evidence where the burden of proof is "evidence beyond reasonable doubt." We do not order our lives by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The circumstances are such that they establish the authenticity of the Shroud, and, I believe, beyond REASONABLE doubt.

Reasonable doubt is a not a lingering suspicion that comes in the middle of the night. Where the facts point so strongly in one direction, Reasonable doubt must then be based on facts. When evidence is adduced that a certain event probably happened, doubt not based on facts is not reasonable.

There is no authentic doubt about the Shroud once it is established that it is a linen cloth that once enwrapped the body of a crucified man who was scourged, beaten, nailed to a cross   and his side pierced with a post-mortem (after death) spear wound. There is even evidence that he carried the cross-bar on his shoulders and walked through streets that had limestone stone dust compatible with the streets of Jerusalem. There is also evidence that he fell and because he was carrying the cross-bar, he couldn't break his fall, injuring a knee and the tip of his nose.

The accumulation of facts is overwhelming. The question that nobody has ever answered, given the circumstances is: If not HIM, who?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Red State, Blue State and Le Miz

There was an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times (Saturday, 2/9/2013) today on the fact that soldiers on both sides of the Civil War read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables in the trenches.  What follows is my comment.

The fact that Le Miz was popular in the camps and trenches of the Civil War is an ironic comment on the status of popular literacy today. The same comment ran through the "The Civil War" presentation by Ken Burns.

Today Congress is full of babbling idiots who dispute the elemental facts of science and deny both global warming and evolution which for all his tragic administrative failures is accepted by even Pope Benedict. There are repetitive stories of books being banned and textbooks being censored by Red state education authorities. In one state, there is a proposal to mandate the reading of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged which is the bible of a philosophy which is totally dismissive of the great ideals of equality which have governed this country since the Declaration of Independence and for which we fought the bloodiest war in our history – the Civil War.

This country is facing as great a divide as that of the Civil War. Not between free state and slave state, not even among classes of wealth, but among those who accept and understand that ideas progress as well as people and those who cling to an idealized vision the past, but do not learn from it.

The knowledge gap between Red states and Blue is the most invidious gap we face to day. The fact that soldiers on the line could read and relate to Le Miz during the Civil War is a witness to the fact that progress is not guaranteed.

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.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Reflection: Nancy LaMott, Eva Cassidy, Planned Parenthood and Thomas Aquinas and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

As some of you may know, I am working on a manuscript the working title of which is “The Coming of the Quantum Christ: The Shroud of Turin and the future of Science and Humanity.” I have just completed the draft of Chapter Seven (:Game Change”) which ends with the Shroud of Turin Research Group (STURP) in 1978 flying from New York to Turin to begin what is undoubtedly the most concentrated scientific study of the Shroud in its arguably two millennia history. (Some of what follows may wind-up in the “quantum” part of my manuscript., the Aquinas and Teilhard part.)

But in the past few days, the news has been of renewed efforts of the right wing extremists elected in the 2010 elections at the state level to gut Planned Parenthood again on the mistaken claim that Planed Parenthood is dedicated to abortion and that it spend most of its money providing abortions. That is simply not true. Ninety-Seven per cent of Planned Parenthood activities are devoted to women’s health issues, a part of the 97% does include contraception services, BUT, the number one way to prevent abortions is contraception.

But was does this have to do with Eva Cassidy and Nancy LaMott, two female vocalists. They have one thing in common: they both died in the prime of their singing careers from cancers that if discovered in time might have saved their lives.

First, a word about their music. Eva was a relatively unknown quantity when she died of melanoma at age 33. It was three years after her death that she came to the attention of a British disk jockey singing “Some Where Over the Rainbow. The rest is, as they say, history. There is a You Tube of an ABC Nightline story on  Eva at  (It's 15 minutes long so you might want to finish this article before going to it.)

Eva first came to my attention when I stumbled across arecording of her singing “At Last” on Napster some years ago. You may recall that in the Inaugural Balls of 2008, Michelle and Barak Obama danced to “At Last.” Beyonce was the singer but I recall hearing the song many years before. Like a lot of songs some of it may seem over done, but I have always cherished the last verse:
You smile,
And then the spell was cast.
And here we are in heaven,
Because you are mine at last.

I was had a moment like that, New Year’s Eve, 1961.

Eva’s version is on You Tube at:

I stumbled across Nancy LaMott when I was once looking for tracks of “You’re Clear Out of This World.” I thought it was a Kurt Weil song because it seemed to draw from “Speak Low” one of Weil’s most beautiful songs. It wasn’t though. But Nancy LaMott did a set of “You’re Clear Out of This World” and Cole Porter’s “So in Love” that was out of this world. You find a recorded live performance:

The first time I heard Eva Cassidy sing, I knew she had passed away. I remember hearing of Nancy LaMott on NYC disk jockey Jonathan Schwartz’s Saturday morning jazz centered program. It was not until I discovered her recording of “Clear Out of This world” that I discovered that she too had died. Hers was uterine cancer.
The implication  in Seattle Times story  was that she was on the brink of stardom at the time of her death

I will not claim that either of these two precious women could have been saved by Planned Parenthood because I am not familiar enough with their economic circumstances to know if they either qualified for, or needed, Planned Parenthood services. But millions of American women have qualified for these services and in many instances owe their lives to Planned Parenthood. You can see some examples at:

Now the commercial: What has any of this have to do with Thomas Aquinas and Teilhard?

The issue is the human soul and when does that immortal soul come into existence. We now have claims that a fertilized egg cell, even before implantation in the womb, is a human being entitled to all the due process rights of a human being which would mean that even “morning after” pills would be murder because they prevent implementation. Thomas Aquinas would have disagreed.

He lived 800 years ago, long before Darwin. Aquinas  along with St. Augustine was one of the pillars of Christian theology. Aquinas  wrote concerning the issue of when the soul was infused into the fetus that it occurred at the time of “quickening” and that before quickening there  was not a human soul but a vegative one. He seems to foreshadow both Teilhard and Darnwin

Teilhard wrote in the “Phenomenon of Man” that it was at the point in the evolution of a species of primates that it developed the quality of reflection or self awareness, that the human species was born. To credit the metaphor of Genesis, that would be the point when humanity  became the  “image and likeness” of God.

As I have written in the Introduction to my manuscript, science today has advanced to the point where it is grappling with the issue of human consciousness. Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have written that the human mind and(and necessarily awareness) arise from trillions of micro-tubules in the brain acting as a quantum computer with among other attributes, the ability to participate in “quantum entanglements.” That is the development among quantum phenomena to react identically and thus communicate instantaneously across time and space beyond the normal constraints of time and space. Einstein called the concept “spooky” but to paraphrase Cole Porter, it is strange, dear, but true.

I discuss this on my blog at

Where does it leave us. Ironically, it leaves us at the door step of Roe v. Wade which divided the pregnancy into three stages of legal concern. The first stage would correspond to Aquinas vegative state at the very least.

To the best of my knowledge, the Catholic Church has not yet stated as a matter of faith and morals that God has infused the soul in the ovum at the time of fertilization. Because science is now grappling with the issues of self-awareness that so closely resemble the Aquinas dichotomy, it would be best perhaps to avoid such speculation.

Galileo was nearly burned at the stake for challenging the Ptolemaic view that the earth was the center of the Universe. It might be best for everybody to take a deep breath before demanding all of our laws bend to the fundamentalist view about soul creation.

And it would certainly be a very good idea to those who are demanding the defunding of Planned Parent to back-off a bit. Millions of women have depended on Planned Parenthood for life saving services. As for me, I can not get the voices of Eva Cassidy and Nancy LaMott to be still.

Okay STURP team, it’s time to land.