Thursday, April 20, 2017

Oh No, Another Shroud Study

Juan Manuel Miñarro López, sculptor and sindonologist.
Generally, whenever Christmas or Easter rolls around, there’s some new effort to discredit Christianity. This year, with the exception of the resurrection of that hoary old meme claiming that Easter is a pagan fertility feast, the anti-Christian fake-fact generators have been quiet. On the other hand, a new study claims to have further authenticated the Shroud of Turin by demonstrating a strong connection with the Sudarium of Oviedo. And whenever a story comes up that claims to prove (or disprove) something connected with the faith, my sphincter clenches.

Why? If a study is well done, it won’t convince the other side, who will automatically write it off as bad science. If the researchers clown the methodology, on the other hand, science itself is the loser. Science is methodology; its only claim to truth stems from the integrity of the method. And when I read that the chief researcher is a professor of sculpture(!), I have faint hopes concerning the methodology.

Heads, you lose; tails, you can’t win.

Full disclosure: I do believe the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. At the very least, it’s less explicable as a medieval forgery than it is as a first-class relic. No one has yet succeeded in creating a theory of the forgery that conforms to the known facts of the Shroud itself or the known techniques of medieval technology. And the method used in the 1988 carbon-14 tests, in the best of circumstances, was not infallible. Given the actual conditions — contaminated samples, a botched protocol, and the inability to ensure neutrality — the tests must be considered compromised and of dubious scientific value.[*]


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Catholic Stand: When the Needle on the Spiritual Tank is On “E”

So I went to Confession last Saturday (March 25). I don’t go to Confession nearly often enough. I go so infrequently that I have an app to remind me how to say the Act of Contrition (Laudate). I won’t tell you when the penultimate time was, but I will say Obama was President. That was one of the things I had to confess.

The last few times, I blurted out my biggest sin first. Without fail, the relief of having got that off my chest was so overwhelming I forgot to confess other sins. This time I managed a full examination of conscience and managed to get everything out, despite the sense I got that Father was trying to rush me through it.

Sunday Morning Follies

No, dagnabbit, not quite everything, I realized to my dismay at Mass the next day, having been reminded of two more besetting faults by the sight of an attractive young lady in the pew in front of me. (Yes, yes, I know — men are pigs). My purpose of amendment may be firm, but my power of amendment, like my body, seems rather flabby right now.

Six years ago, I wrote a post on Outside the Asylum about sedevacantists. The same Sunday morning after I went to Confession, I found two responses on that old post from the same person. First, the respondent said I misrepresented sedevacantism. Then — in an incoherent blither of false assertions, bad grammar, and condemnations of Pope Francis as a heretic — he justified everything I’d written. Having just confessed to a radical lack of charity not sixteen hours previously, it was all I could to not tear into him. That combox is now shut down; I’m seriously considering doing away with comboxes altogether.

Fifteen minutes afterward, I was reading a post by The Blogger Who Must Not Be Named, in which he admits he also went to Confession that day and apologizes to those whom he had written of disrespectfully. The Blogger is a knowledgeable fellow who has an endearingly goofy sense of humor; however, as a culture warrior, he is often his own worst enemy.

But then, so am I. So are we all, in this world of sin and sorrow. Satan can only lead us to sin if we choose to follow. I can’t take the speck out of his eye until I take the plank out of mine.
Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Culture Warrior Fades Away

Image source:
If you came here looking for some commentary on last night's launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria, I’m sorry to disappoint you. In an essay to be published on Catholic Stand tomorrow, April 8, 2017, I will announce that I’m retiring the “Catholic Culture Warrior” persona. Although the decision was made without prior anticipation of last night’s action, the same reasons that prompted the decision also preclude comment.

I’ll continue to write; however, the emphasis of my writing will shift focus away from commentary on current events and into a different direction. I’m still in the process of thinking through the problem of “where do I go from here”, so I don’t know how this will affect my sadly neglected personal blogs.

Why am I retiring the CCW shtick?

First, I have a lot of intellectual arrogance and not a lot of charity. As a result, I tend to treat people who disagree with me harsher than I ought. Put more simply, when it comes to argument, I just can’t play nice.

Second, even to the extent that fighting the culture wars has been necessary, it’s simply highlighted the degree to which the gospel message has lost coherence among Christians. Moreover, it has distracted effort and moral capital from the New Evangelization that was supposed to counteract the loss of coherence.

Third, as the gospel message has lost coherence, confessional Christianity has lost adherents. As a consequence, the Christian worldview no longer dominates the public square and its ability to provide a common language between left and right is diminishing rapidly. There is still a culture war going on; however, the war is now over the form post-Christian American society will take. That it will be post-Christian is beyond reasonable doubt.