Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quaking in My Boots

One of the purposes of the RU blogs is to give you a glimpse into the life of students and faculty. So here’s one about me—my most favorite subject. jk! (Those who know me, know I really don’t like talking about myself, and I hate filling out Annual Faculty Data Reports where I need to talk about everything I’ve done and how good I am at doing what I do. YUCK!!!)

Any who . . . sometimes research and articles are spawned by accident. As I said previously, one of my hobbies is genealogy. As an historian I always try to track down all the verifiable information and documentation that I can find. One particular line of my ancestry is Quaker, and my most immediate Quaker ancestor was “disunited” for “marrying out.” In other words, he married a non-Quaker and was kicked out of the local Quaker congregation for it. Thus “disowning” and “disuniting” amongst the Society of Friends intrigued me so I investigated it. In looking at transcripts of original documents I discovered that many New Jersey Quakers were also disowned for their participation in the American Revolution, so this led to a whole new line of inquiry. Quakers were and are pacifists. So what about these fighting Quakers? Well it turns out that very little has been written about New Jersey Friends who took up arms, just a passing paragraph in some books. A good bit has been done on PA Quakers. So all of this “love of learning” has led to my cranking out an article written with a social sciences approach regarding New Jersey Quakers and the American Revolution.

So besides teaching and trying to foster learning, faculty members do research and writing that feeds back into the classroom. This research has given me a better understanding about the Society of Friends and appreciation for the complex relationships that existed during an important era of US history.

University life is about the love of learning and having gusto for life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Shrouded in Mystery

The Shroud of Turin, the alleged burial cloth of Jesus, has attracted a lot of attention ever since 1898 when it was discovered that the image on the cloth is a photographic negative. Scientists remain puzzled as to what exactly caused the image. Now the Shroud has gone High-Def, photographed “almost 1,300 times stronger than a picture taken with a 10 million pixel digital camera.” A BBC documentary about the recent filming etc will soon be aired on the Discovery Channel.

Back in 1988 Carbon-14 tests were done on a corner sample producing the dating between 1260 and 1390. Subsequently, most scientists dismiss the Shroud as an ingenious Medieval Latin forgery, but many questions still remain. The image on the Shroud in places is no more the 1/500 of an inch thick; modern science still has no way to replicate that. Seen through a VP-8 Imager, a photograph of the Shroud image is actually 3-D; regular photographs are not. Pollen samples as well as limestone build-up indisputably prove that the cloth existed in the Jerusalem area. Likewise, the weave of the cloth is unique to first-century Palestine textiles. How did a Medieval-Early Renaissance forger know the specific weave etc and replicate it? And then there are medical anatomical facts as well. Theories have been posited regarding how the forgery could have been pulled off, as well as theories questioning the Carbon dating results. No matter what, the Shroud proves for interesting scientific investigation. Nothing like a good mystery!

The bottom line is, the belief in Jesus Christ being the Incarnate eternal Son of God, who was crucified and resurrected, is a matter of faith, not reason. Faith and reason can and should work hand in hand; religion shouldn’t fear science. As a Catholic university, Rockhurst values both faith and reason; religion and science. Whether the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of the historical Jesus of Nazareth is not essential for Christian faith; however, ongoing scientific questions and resultant data support the idea that faith shouldn’t be summarily dismissed either. Something is going on that defies present scientific understanding.

For links about the up-coming Discovery Channel program as well as the Shroud of Turin, click below.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Break

Well this is mid-term week and EVERYONE is looking forward to Spring Break which starts Saturday, or earlier if you're lucky! It's been a jam-packed semester especially since we started much later this year. Then there's Easter Break right on the heels of Spring Break. We're back for four days and then off again. The Calendar Committee better not do this again! Just wrap it all up in one enchilada. Anyhow, all of us teachers are looking forward to the time off, though we need to grade the mid-terms and turn in grades by next Tuesday March 11, during Spring Break. Thus for many of us, Spring Break really doesn't kick in until all that grading is done.

As for me, after that I'll be here trying to catch up on stuff, such as writing up reports for powers that be, finishing up articles I'm writing, preparing an extensive writing guide for research papers, and handouts for up-coming Greek classes. But at least the pace will be more relaxed for a week. Hopefully the weather will end up being nice and sunny and warm for a day or two and if so, I'll escape from the office. Please God let it warm up!

So not much new in the zoo besides the animals getting restless and planning an escape.