This classic refusal to discuss a contrary opinion, challenging statistics and even proven facts I heard recently on French radio. Nutritionists and people in the food business were discussing Fast Food (what I call, in an attempt at a French pun, “Néfaste Food” (“Bad Food”) and the fat, sugar and salt content in hamburgers. The Marketing Director of a well-known chain of hamburger “restaurants” dismissed the inevitable question with the phrase quoted in the title of this post. Though clearly an admission of the validity of the objection being raised about dangers to health, he simply refused to discuss the matter, and launched into statistics establishing the growing popularity of such abominations in France, the home of gallic gastronomy.
The gambit made me think of our Blog and the comments often provoked by my posts (or the too rare posts contributed by readers like Thom). As interesting as they are, I am often frustrated to see how quickly and nonchalantly some commentators avoid the point of the post, preferring not to . . . “get into such polemics”, and raise questions – in fact red herrings – on subjects not mentioned in the post.
A recent example was my post “I Went to Mass”, the main point of which , obviously, was the pointlessness of prayer and the “hocus-pocus” of the Eucharist (a nasty doggerel send-up of “Hoc est corpus meum”). To date there are twelve comments on the post in question (including two from me). Our most prolific commentator, Thom, deliberately took up Lumen’s “vital point” which others had missed, namely the “intangibly profound” atmosphere of a Catholic church, and broadened the subject to take in “the majesty of nature”, before switching the discussion to “cosmic evolution”. Jim-Lumen took the bait, allowing Thom – who should have been a Jesuit – to slip in an implicit reference to Jim’s hobby-horse, the Shroud of Turin ! Predictably, Jim-Lumen gave us more than a page of comment on one of his favorite topics, winding up with “I am glad to have the evidence of emerging scientific investigation to back my beliefs, rather than the embarrassing lack of such evidence for atheism”. His last line is a generous generalization : “Scientific evidence is increasingly supporting the Catholic faith”.
Jim must be credited with responding directly to Thom’s cynicism about “a few bright sparks … who claim to have established the wave-length of ultra-violet radiation emitted by self-resurrecting dead bodies”. Jim brings out the big guns about the “over five years of reviewed research, by a National Environmental Institution” which “concluded that no earthly source of UV energy was powerful enough, nor of such short duration, to produce this effect” on the Shroud of Turin. The rest of his long comment begins with the “nonsense” (!) of Stephen Hawking about the law of gravity, and ends up, beyond “the experimental evidence (?) for the Resurrection”, with even “more evidence” for Christian faith : “the amazing Tilma of Our Lady of Guadelupe”. We have come a long way from the subject of the post, prayer and perseverance in prayer. However, given the volume and vehemence of the commentators’ digressional dispute about the Shroud, I feel we should wrap it up here.
In my post written after my visit to Turin, “Wowed by the Shroud ?” (October 26, 2015), I make no mention of the alleged “explanation” of the apparent effect of an extraodinary flash of light which imprinted the outline of Jesus’ (resurrected) body on the Shroud. Here I must say that if the so-called scientific evidence is valid, I do have to wonder why the Church still does not declare the Shroud to be a miraculous proof of the Resurrection.
Philip Ball, former editor of the science journal “Nature” has said that “the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling”. “Puzzling” means that the question is still open. The Church continues to refuse to give the Shroud its “Nihil Obstat” – its definitive approval. In 2013 Pope Francis contradicted his predecessor John Paul 2 who called the Shroud “a distinguished RELIC linked to the mystery of our redemption”, by referring to it – as had Benedict XVI – as only an ” ‘ICON’ of a man scourged and crucified”. The Church, wisely, has never officially pronounced on the Shroud’s authenticity. Mind you, the Church defined the Assumption of Mary as fact because it had been part of the “sensus fidelium” for centuries, which means that a lot of people over a long period of time believed in Mary’s Lift-Off, so it must be true . . . Credulity and wishful thinking know no limits. Can they influence even scientific research ?
A final comment on the Shroud by Jim-Lumen, should he choose to submit one, will be published, as the Last Word on what has always been between us a Dialogue of the Deaf, which it is pointless to continue. In the meantime, it is to be hoped that commentators will comment on the subject of the post, rather than ignore it in favor of a totally different subject.