Monday, 23 April 2012

Ground Control to Father Tom

Medjugorje is a small town in Bosnia. It is a Croatian enclave and during the Balkans Conflict was a base for the local militia for the ethnic cleansing of neighbouring Muslims. There was an extermination camp just down the road. As well as murdering innocent Muslims, it was noted for the most brutal internecine conflict, where local Croat families would happily butcher each other or hack off limbs as punishment for perceived crimes.

Whilst this was going on, the place was full of mostly American catholic pilgrims, because the biggest local income is the massive Franciscan basilica – as since the 1980’s there are kids, now adults, who claimed to be having visions of the Virgin Mary. The streets are lined with shops selling plastic virgins, and the special votive picture cards the militia sellotaped to the stocks of their AK47s.

The pilgrims didn’t seem to notice what was going on. Trucks would take Muslim men and boys through the streets to the concentration camp at night, told to close their eyes and turn away their heads so that they would not defile the shrine.

It is entirely possible that those trucks and the uniforms of the militia had been purchased (though unwittingly) by the loyal pilgrims – as revealed by an ITV documentary programme at the time.

But back to the visions, the longest such occurrence in Church history. And the local priests, who seemed to give support and organisation to the visionaries. The parish priest at the time was a Father Zovko. For more than ten years, this Franciscan ignored the commands of his superiors and the local bishop, continuing his ministry though he was banned from doing so. He has quietly been moved away now – perhaps to avoid the scandal when an American pilgrim said that he had sexually assaulted her, and then eleven other women came forward with similar stories. This priest had apparently been referred to as a ‘living saint’ by the Blessed Virgin herself, no less.

Another priest who was also praised by name by the Virgin was the spiritual director of the visionaries for a time - Father Tomislav, pictured above. Medjugorje cultists are now desperately trying to write him out of history. Not only was this priest moved to Italy for disobedience, he was eventually defrocked. What crime was he accused of, you ask? Obviously something much worse than sexual assault? Well, before the visions he had already got a nun pregnant (must have done that when the Virgin wasn’t looking). It wasn’t that. Father Tom was messing with the money. Sexual assault, you get disappeared quietly. Get clever with the cash and they throw the book at you.

It seems that the now Mr. Tom is having visions of his own. He has hooked up with an ex-nun from Medjugorje called Stefania Caterina who reveals that they have been called by angels (who are actually space aliens) to set up a ruling council of the Earth called the Central Nucleus. The visions at Medjugorje are just one part of this. The Earth will be invited to join a ‘galactic federation of planets’. Unfortunately for you Star trek fans out there, the command of the ‘star fleet’ has already been given to the humans from Alpha Centauri. The picture is the fleet commander, Ashtar Sharan. Obviously they have weird cameras in space.

If this wasn’t enough, there’s more. Make a space in your diary as the BVM will be beaming down at the Caritas Ranch in Birmingham, Alabama. If you Google Medjugorje you will hit their enormous web presence. This is a multi-million dollar organisation, identified on a cult watch list, which has been alleged to run as a good old fashioned Waco-style cult, with testimoniesfrom escapees about taking assets, splitting families, total personal control of the members (even banning mayonnaise!).

It is also very much linked with the extreme right wing of American politics. On their own radio station they have a programme called Mejunomics where they link the Virgin’s messages to US domestic and economic policy. They promote a devotion called The Patriotic Rosary where the usual chanted prayers are interspersed with the Star Spangled Banner, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and for balance, a prayer by Robert E. Lee. They are very critical of Obama of course, for his Satan-inspired attempt to bring socialism into God’s country.

And at least once a year, up to two of the visionaries come here to have visions. And they are very well looked-after.

Despite all this, there are people who still believe that the visions are real. The poor visionaries have been misled or coerced into going to the Caritas Ranch. The accusations against the priests are false and it is the hierarchy of the church that is evil. But apply the Axe of Reason. The BVM didn’t know that Fr. Tomislav had made a nun pregnant back in 1977? The priest she praised so highly now claims that she is a manifestation of an alien intelligence? Fr. Zovko, the priest she dubbed a ‘living saint’ was at that time in direct disobedience against his superiors (even giving him the benefit of doubt on the sexual assault charges). And now, with people coming forward and telling their stories about Caritas, she actually appears there TO A SCHEDULE set by the organisers?

Or on the greater scale – that such crimes and horrors would go on in a town where the virgin is appearing – even in her name? I suppose some might even justify what was done – some of the things I’ve read published by the Franciscans currently stationed in the parish paint the Croats as the victims.

I should point out that the local bishops have always disassociated themselves from the visions, but still have said nothing and done nothing explicit to stop this nonsense – the local bishop has not spoken out against Caritas for example. This is especially important where these practices and cults actually use the fact that they haven’t been explicitly banned as tacit approval.

And now, more of the same. Here is our special guest star. Father Sudac. The Croat priest who bears the wounds of Christ (including a bleeding cross on his forehead, which seems to have gone as that might interfere with his beautifully sculpted eyebrows, dyed hair and beard). He might look like a cross between David Icke and Derren Brown but the church says that his wounds cannot be of ‘natural origin’. Why he wears all white, like the Pope, I have no idea. He has also released a pop album. What do you think of the cover?

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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Mormons Christian? erm...nope!

The picture above depicts the Mormon Jesus with two of his wives, Martha and Mary. Not only did this one marry, he had a whole load of kids, and the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was a direct descendant.

This Jesus was the human son of the space alien god man Elohim, the brother of Lucifer. This one, shortly after the resurrection, beamed down in America to preach the gospel all over again to the lost tribe of Israel, the original white-skinned natives. These were massacred by the evil dark skinned tribes, which lead to the book of Mormon being buried to preserve it. Convicted con-man Joseph Smith had a vision which directed him to the plates, which he translated by putting a magic stone in a hat. And the rest is history...

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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Shroud part 2. What if...?

Let's assume the shroud is 100% authentic, and apply the Axe of Reason.

1. Contrary to Jewish custom, the body was not washed or prepared. It was wrapped while the blood was still wet. It was not wrapped in traditional winding cloths but one extremely long piece of linen. No face cloth was applied.
This actually contradicts the account in John's gospel, where the body was washed and wrapped with spices. It also contradicts accounts where the cloths were folded after the resurrection, the face cloth separate. The contemporaneous body that was discovered in 2009 was buried exactly as described in the bible. What was this cloth? It wasn't a traditional shroud, and the image curiously fills it.

2. One of the apostles entered the tomb at some point after the resurrection and removed the cloths to preserve them. The greatest relic of all time and proof of the resurrection.
When did they go and get it? No-one else would have taken it. No other mention of the cloth appears in the bible AT ALL. Why? Surely this would have been mentioned, venerated, used. In fact it entirely disappears for over a thousand years. But at the time this shroud appeared, there were about 40 other shrouds in circulation.

3. Contrary to the rabbinical laws Jesus wore his hair long with a long beard. He was unusually tall. The height difference in the back and front images can be explained...
He would have been subject to constant mockery and censure for his womanly hair. Judas would not have had to identify him in the garden, as he would have been instantly recognisable. Why would Paul have written what he did - he MUST have seen the shroud, surely. And he did know the apostles who...must have had short hair too. I think Paul would have had a problem with any image of Christ, it being a craven image and technically against the law of Moses. Maybe that's why it was hidden...but the Gentiles didn't have a problem with images, statues and the like...

4. The Bishop of Troyes lied when he wrote to the pope. He could not verify that the shroud was a fake, and wanted to stop the veneration for his own reasons.
Why would he do this? Encouraging people to venerate the relic would do nothing other than increase devotion and bring money into the church. Not to mention lying to the pope - he wasn't declared antipope at that point.

Even without the scientific analysis, it just doesn't make sense.

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The Shroud of Turin. Fake. And YOU can prove it!

This site is the best presentation of all the available data. Most damning perhaps is that the first historical document to reference this shroud is a letter from the then Bishop of Troyes to Antipope Clement VII, warning against veneration of this known fake, even claiming that his immediate predecessor had obtained a confession from the artist who made it. Coincidentally, the carbon dating data, the type of cloth, the pigment and techniques used all fit with the date suggested by this document.

But I said you can prove it as a fake yourself, and you can. The images, front and back, are not anatomically correct, the man on the back is taller than the man on the front. The head is detached from the body and is too small, there is no navel, the legs and arms are too long. And this is how you can prove the fake yourself.

Look at the pose of the figure in this picture:

The pose of the body is odd, don't you think? The shoulders are flat down, the elbows bent at about 30 degrees. And yet the left hand easily covers the genital area, the right going beyond it. Lie flat on the floor and try to copy this pose. You can't do it. Your arms aren't long enough. Now try something else. Cross your arms as close to the groin as possible, and now, totally relax. What happened? Your legs have turned and opened, you hands have fallen to your sides, and your fingers have relaxed and bent. It wasn't uncommon for bodies to be buried with the hands in this position but they had to be tied there, but there are no signs of any kind of ties at the hands or to hold the legs together.

There was no way a medieval artist would portray the genitals or buttocks of the adult Jesus.

There is another more shocking fact that I was completely unaware of until I started researching this again. Something that a catholic education and three years seminary neglected to mention. If Jesus actually existed, he most certainly did not look like this (forget the white skin and blue eyes for now):

His hair would have been cut short. Yep. Maybe a short beard, but again not much like this, as beards were saved for elders. Long hair at the time was definitely out. For one, it was against the Talmud. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says this, “Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (11:14). Not likely he would have said that if Jesus looked like this.

But the figure on the shroud has long hair and a bushy beard - he's also at least 6 foot tall according to one of the images. That would have put him outside the law, and head and shoulders above everybody else (pun not intended). It does fit however with the way that Christian art depicted him in the middle ages. Early images of Christ showed him as beardless, and with short hair, curiously. But a lot of this had more to do with iconography, rather than trying to depict an actual likeness. Long hair and beards had meaning in different parts of the ancient world.

Who is this?

It's not who you think it is. This is Zeus.

and this?

That's Jesus, from the 6th century. Beards were a sign of knowledge, age and responsibility, long hair was associated with divine power. Christ victorious above looks more like a startled teenager. But with Zeus, there is authority and wisdom. So a bearded long-haired Jesus became the norm around the 6th century in the east, later in the west.

Much has been made in the past that depictions of Jesus look like the shroud which prove its authenticity, but it is more likely that the shroud looks like the art, as it doesn't look anything like a first century Jewish man from Palestine.

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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Santorum - the catholic?

"Is the Pope Catholic?" is a popular idiom when alluding to something that is self-evident. Apparently not true of our incipient racist friend here, when a recent poll revealed that most Catholics are not voting for him. Which may or may not have something to do with the fact that only 40% of them actually know that he is a Catholic. Mind you, someone like this, pro-war, anti-social policy, pro-assault weapons, pro-torture, pro-capital punishment - those values don't exactly fit with the idea of being a christian, let alone catholic, do they? Well, they might if you were part of the Spanish Inquisition. 

The Catholics wrote the book on torture, literally. A favourite form of torture at Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps was strappado, where the hands are tied behind the back and then the victim is hung from them, causing incredible pain and eventually both arms to dislocate at the shoulder. Guess who invented that one - not the Nazis, but Torquemada and his happy bunch of wizards. Makes waterboarding look like a walk in the park.

Perhaps St. Orum here belongs to a more traditional kind of catholic. Well, he has said that he is not a member of the happy clappy fascist Opus Dei, other than the only school his sons ever attended was an Opus Dei school. (All seven kids are home schooled, in case you're wondering. Wonderfully socialised, no doubt). Romney might be wearing magic underwear, but Rick might be wearing underwear made out of barbed wire.