The Turin Shroud & the Sudarium, part II

Holy Saturday was an appropriately solemn day at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as the faithful prayed in side chapels, said their confessions and prepared for Easter rites that were only hours away.Down in the crypt, Kristin Kazyak paced before a life-sized color photograph of the Shroud of Turin. For hours, she answered familiar questions about the 14-foot sheet and how its lightly scorched fibers offer a negative photographic image that contains 3-D information. She … [Read more...]

New questions about the shroud, part one

Once a week, Barrie Schwortz digs into the computer data that describe who is using his Web site dedicated to news, photographs and scientific papers about the Shroud of Turin.The report doesn't give names, but does show where people work. Scrolling through the "" addresses yields scores of hits from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale and numerous other campuses. Some codes in the "" listings are tougher to decipher. Nevertheless, a trained eye can spot the Los Alamos National … [Read more...]

An Easter question — liar, lunatic or Lord?

Every now and then, messiahs slip past newspaper security personnel and pay visits to religion reporters, offering scoops on the end of the world and other hot stories.Guards can spot those who wear robes or offer other clues that they may not currently reside in a known zip code. Nevertheless, a prophet who looked like Elvis once reached my desk at the Charlotte Observer. The great religion writer Russell Chandler, now retired from the Los Angeles Times, has threatened to write a memoir … [Read more...]

Year 12 — Microsoft, Mozart & hell

For the principalities and powers at Microsoft, these are the times that try geeks' souls.Then again, maybe an even more serious judgment day lies ahead.Not long ago, Microsoft's advertising team came up with a cheery slogan to assure consumers that the software giant understands the daily challenges faced by ordinary people. One of these spots features a snippet of Mozart's Requiem, juxtaposed with Microsoft's omnipresent question, "Where do you want to go today?"A recent issue of the journal … [Read more...]

Why churches are silent on sex

All David Morrison has to do to find out what gay activists and religious conservatives are saying about each other is open his own mail."I guess the only way to end up on all the mailing lists that I'm on is to have lived my life," said Morrison, a thirtysomething journalist in Washington, D.C.In college, he was a homosexual activist who specialized in arguing with Christians. Then he graduated into volunteer work with AIDS networks. In 1992, he burned out and embraced a gay-friendly brand of … [Read more...]

Jerusalem, the in-between city

JERUSALEM -- Hidden in the maze of passageways and shrines that is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the Chapel of St. Nicodemus.In this lesser-known sanctuary there is an electric light.The intricate details of life in Jerusalem's holiest Christian site are governed by a Turkish "Status Quo" declaration from 1852, which tells the Roman Catholics, Greeks, Armenians, Copts, Syrians, Jacobites and Ethiopians what they can and can't do in their corners of the church. But tensions remain, along … [Read more...]

The pope, the rabbi and a story from the past

JERUSALEM -- In Pope John Paul II's first Christmas sermon, he shared his dream of making a pilgrimage to Israel, Jordan and the painful patchwork of land in between.Any papal trip is a big news story. But the best way to grasp the historic nature of this pope's journey into the spiritual minefield called the Holy Land is to see it as a global story built on generations of personal stories -- some beautiful, some horrific. It's like an ancient mosaic that includes many shattered pieces, but the … [Read more...]

The gospel according to Grisham

Something mysterious happened in the wilds of Brazil when the morally bankrupt lawyer Nate O'Reilly finally found missionary Rachel Lane, the illegitimate heir of a one of America's richest men.She didn't want $11 billion. Instead, she wanted him to repent, be healed of his alcoholism and claim an outrageous gift -- new life. The lawyer confessed his sins and then prayed his way through a case of jungle fever. But weeks later, he sat shaking in a pew, wracked by doubt. He wept and listed his … [Read more...]