I have now studied the earliest Christian writers and the history of the Christian church long enough to realize one key thing: It’s an inherently simple faith. All that is asked is belief in Jesus Christ as son of God. It’s clear the thief on the cross was not baptized or anything else…but Jesus said that “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise…” So, what the hell happened to us? How did we so complicate this great gift to the point of creating completely groundless human fine print?
I’ve written elsewhere in these pages of my choice of the Anglican catholic tradition as my denomination of choice, but it shares many flaws with the rest. Yes, the communion rail is open to any who extend their hands, but you’ll get only a rather uncomfortable grunt at best if you mention to a priest that you share communion with friends and family when no priest is around. They know it’s every bit is valid as any at which they officiate as the history of the early church…and the words of Christ Himself…make clear, but centuries of dogma mean they can’t speak the truth. Sad.
There are so many denominations claiming to be the “one true church” and excluding all who do not accept their dogma. Nothing could be farther from Christ’s message. He made it clear that only God can judge the human heart. No human has the right to determine who shall or shall not receive communion. If this is not the case, the whole concept is bullshit, to use a colorful and rather non academic word.
So, what of the images? Well, I am not here to sell anything or convert anyone, but I do wish to point out that the images here are perhaps the greatest mysteries in human history. If these are what they purport to be, it means nothing. It means nothing because one’s attitude towards these…or any…object has nothing to do with Christ’s message. Nor does one’s attitude towards whether or not Mary was a virgin, whether the Bible is the “inerrant Word of God,” or anything else besides Christ’s words to the thief on the cross.
But they DO represent an anomaly. The Sidone, or shroud, of Turin, the Sudarium of Oviedo, and the Sudarium of Veronica, are objects that defy our best minds. We cannot come even close to reproducing them. The two shrouds share the same blood stains of the same AB type. Veronica’s veil is of byssus, or sea silk which is an extremely fine, rare, and valuable fabric that is made from the long silky filaments or byssus secreted by a gland in the foot of pen shells (in particular Pinna nobilis). The byssus is used by the clam to attach itself to the sea bed. Only a single person living today is considered a master of working this incredible fabric. Its characteristics include being flame proof, and not accepting paint. Yet, there we have a face not only clearly there but visible from either side and matching the faces of the other the other two.
As I said in the opening, I am not going to go into whether these relics are real or not…they certainly exist and defy modern science, but you may believe what you want about them. Look them up if you want to know more.
To me, they mean that God has a sense of humor. What you believe about these objects is irrelevant. But their existence tells us just how little we know and causes great consternation to atheists. As the great master Lao Tzu said “Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.” There is either one true church, or no church of any kind, and it’s Head does not reside in Rome, Boston, Nashville, Antioch, or in any other city on Earth.