Michelangelo, Mother Teresa and Miracles

Last week in New Jersey some of the faithful flocked to see something strange and wonderful–the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a tree trunk. The story is reported here. Then there was the face of Mother Teresa in a bun in Tennessee. You can see that here along with an image of Jesus on a piece of toast, and here is an image of Jesus that appeared in a frying pan in England.

I like this stuff. I find it encouraging that the human race is still so sweet and gullible and so capable of seeing things that don’t really exist. Rather than the cynic who see through everything, I’d like to be like the believer who see into everything. Of course facts matter, and frauds should be exposed, but on the other hand, anything which turns the facts upside down and make people look at reality twice and perhaps for once start to think that reality is rubbery and the cosmos is unpredictable and the whole of everything might be an open system rather than a closed one–I like that. It makes me smile and feel poetical and piratical and subversive and submissive both at the same time.

One of the reasons I am so down on atheism is because it is so dull. The atheists seem so burdened down with facts and arguments. Indeed facts are important, but they’re not much fun are they? I mean, they’re so completely utilitarian and unimaginative. “Yeh, well, show me! Prove it! Where’s your evidence?” Yawn. Where’s the fun in that? Now seeing Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun, Mary in a tree trunk and Jesus on a piece of toast or a fry pan. That’s interesting. A plaster statue that weeps blood? Fascinating. A saint who has been dead for three hundred years, but whose body is fresh as a daisy?  I’m interested. Two cars going for a head on collision and they de-materialize? Bewildering but fun. A woman who sees angels and a man who prays for dead people? Curious. A mysterious linen shroud with a scorched image that no one can explain (except for people who believe it is a photograph of the resurrection) Intriguing.

So I was therefore delighted to find that there are some atheists who also “see things” and believe in stuff that isn’t there. Check out this fascinating article in which some folks see pictures of human brains hidden in Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel. This is secret coded evidence of his being a secret atheist don’t you know? Can’t you see it? Now we’re getting somewhere. I wonder if atheists have ever come up with any other outlandish beliefs, amazing conspiratorial connections or any other examples of vivid imaginations gone wild? Oh yes, the idea that giraffes grew long necks so they could eat the leaves off the tops of trees, or that the Catholic Church officially killed millions of people in the Spanish Inquisition! Then there’s the idea that the Pope is a Nazi who wears ruby slippers and is responsible for the AIDS epidemic, the genocide in Rwanda, subjugation of women, the institution of slavery and just about every bad and nasty thing you can think of.

I’m entertained by cranky theories, funny miracle stories, amazing conspiracy theories and far out stuff, and I thought the atheists were rather dull in this respect, but when I stood things on their head I realized they’re just as entertaining as we are.  You just have to see it from the other side.

Answering Margery Eagan on Homosexuality
Is This a Miraculous Image of the Divine Mercy?
Apologetics 101
Mantilla the Hon on the Cappa Magna
  • abb3w

    ….so, you don’t see the resemblance, although trained anatomists do? Did I miss some medical education in your background? Weren’t you complaining about those “not knowledgable about a particular subject” making “wild, groundless assertions”?

    Or are you merely arguing about the subsequent inferences as to Michelangelo’s intentions? That certainly seems more debatable as to whether or not it falls in the “stuff that isn’t there” category. The ambiguity as to which, however, makes it seem more likely that you’re preaching to the choir.

    That said, yes, some atheists have come up with some remarkably silly notions. However, the subjugation (or more generally, subordination) of women seem a particularly poor example, as that has more association with religion than irreligion in the West of late. When did you last re-read the first letter of Timothy? Or Inter Insigniores?

  • diane wyder

    what can I say but: I love you Fsther! and I am grateful for you and I thank you for all the countless times you have inspired me and have been part of my transformative, daily conversion story. I do pray for you and every priest, evangelizer, man or woman who spreads the Good News of our Crucified and Risen Lord. Yeah, my heart is pretty much full and overflowing right now. THANKS! God bless you, Sincerely, diane wyder…and thank you for alerting me to the Get Serious book of Father Farafaglia! I bought 5 copies.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I was remarked to my pastor that ‘God works in mysterious ways’…he said, “that’s the only way He works”.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Wills

    I am a trained anatomist (a pathologist actually) and I am not impressed by the resemblanceHowever if one accepts the notion the image is there it is as Father says good fun and leads to all sorts of interesting ideas, not all of them atheistic.

  • abb3w

    So, does pareidolia seem to your eye a better explanation than Michelangelo intentionally creating such an anatomical resemblance?

    (I’d agree the implications aren’t necessarily atheistic. If he was theist, Michelangelo might well simply have wished to include another aspect of God’s handiwork, without having to answer questions about how he learned it.)

  • Zwetschgenkrampus

    Now, why do I wonder what the Vicar would say about this? Or even Daphne?

    Or even, God help us, the Reverend Lavinia?

  • veritas

    You have GOT to be kidding!

    By complex alignment of part of a picture and comparing it with part of the brain when seen at a certain precise angle – it is theorised that the two may resemble each other!!!!

    And atheists have the gall to call Christians gullible!

  • Oregon Catholic

    We have bacon, toast, and a cinnamon roll. Now all we need are the eggs!

  • DFire

    Its no theory that they resemble each other, they definitely resemble each other, just as the Nun Bun (verily, she was delicious!) bore an undeniable resemblance to Mother Theresa. The only question is if it is merely coincidence (as the aforementioned bun obviously was) or the true intention of the artist. That said, I fail to see how either option has anything to do with atheism.

  • http://www.zahnarztberlinmitte.net werbeartikel

    OMG!! Still cant believe its true, really is that happened??

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    We also have the frying pan.

  • SteveD

    Let’s throw some REAL miracles at the atheists around here (there are plenty of them). Let me start you off – just google ‘Jack Traynor’ – if they can explain that one, I might consider atheism myself. The British Army pension scheme said (like good atheists) that as he was definitely incurable then he couldn’t have been cured and continued to pay a 100% disability pension until the day he died while he had been running a successful business since his healing at Lourdes.

  • veritas

    I said “theorised” because I have closely looked at the picture and don’t believe there is any connection – the two look quite different.
    You could take many parts of an incredibly complex work like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel art and try and relate little sections of it to almost any little section of another picture or photo. It is pure theorising and supposition.
    The reason I link this gullibility to atheists, is that this article appeared in the Scientific American. While the Scientific American is by no means an exclusively atheistic publication, it is true that it would not, in a million years, publish any article that showed the truth of any Christian miracle. It is a journal that atheists would be very happy to read in bed before they went to sleep.

  • DFire

    Methinks you doth protest too much. While it is certainly “theorising and supposition” that it was Michelangelo’s intention to represent a brain in his work, you simply cannot deny that the resemblence is there. And this isn’t just any “little section” of the work at all. The portion of the painting that closely resembles a brain stem just so happens to be located on the head of God. While I am not convinced that this is anything more than a coincidence, if it was in fact the artist’s intent to represent a human brain in his work, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate part of the painting on which to do so. As Michelangelo was well known to be a keen student of human anatomy, the notion isn’t that far fetched.

    Scientific American is not the only source which has reported this, BTW . The NY Times, MSNBC, and even Fox News (among many others) have run pieces on this story. This is in no way an atheist issue, and it surprises me that it would be represented as such. What exactly is so threatening to Catholics about the possibility that Michelangelo represented a brain in his work?

    Also, I strongly suggest that you present whatever proof of Christian miracles you possess here on this forum. That’ll show those biased jerks at Scientific American!