Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Herbert Thurston, Turin Shroud Encyclopedia

Turin Shroud Encyclopedia
Copyright © Stephen E. Jones

Herbert Thurston #22

This is "Herbert Thurston," part #22 of my Turin Shroud Encyclopedia. As mentioned in my previous Pierre d'Arcis #19, this series will help me write chapter "18. Sceptics and the Shroud" of my book, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Sheet of Jesus!" See 06Jul17, 03Jun18, 04Apr22, 13Jul22 & 8 Nov 22. Other Shroud sceptics covered in this series to date are "Pierre d'Arcis #19" and "Ulysse Chevalier #20,"

[Index #1] [Previous: Prehistory of the Shroud #21] [Next: How was the Image Formed? (1) #23]

Herbert Henry Charles Thurston (1856-1939) was an English [Right (enlarge[PM23]) priest of the Roman Catholic Church, a member of the Jesuit order, and a prolific scholar on liturgical, literary, historical, and spiritual matters[HTW]. He was regarded as an expert on spiritualism but he is remembered chiefly for his extensive contributions to the Catholic Encyclopedia[HTW].

In 1901 Thurston read the fraudulent (see #20) anti-Shroud monograph[CU00] of Ulysse Chevalier (1841-1923)[AF82, 55]. Then in 1903 Thurston wrote an anti-Shroud article, "The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History," in the English Jesuit journal, The Month[TH03]. In it Thurston included an English translation of Chevalier's fraudulent invention of the d'Arcis Memorandum (see "Pierre d'Arcis #19")[TH03, 21-26]. It is possible that Thurston did not know that it was fraudulent, that there was no actual parchment Memorandum, only two rough paper drafts which Chevalier fraudulently combined into one parchment document[BB91, 236-237; AM00, 151-152]. At the outset Thurston made an important concession that, either the Shroud is a forgery or it is Jesus' burial sheet:

"As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud, no question is possible. The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head, can still be clearly distinguished in spite of the darkening of the whole fabric. If this is not the impression of the Body of Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other personage since the world began could these details be verified"[TH03, 19; WE54, 40]
In my forthcoming book, I call this the "Central Dilemma of the Shroud."

Thurston brushed aside the refutation of the forgery thesis by the agnostic Sorbonne Professor of Anatomy, Yves Delage (1854-1920):

"As the shroud is authenticated since the fourteenth century, if the image is a faked painting, there must at this epoch, have existed an artist-who has remained unknown-capable of executing a work hardly within the power of the greatest Renaissance painters. While this is already very difficult to admit for an image painted as a positive, it becomes quite incredible in the case of a negative image, which lacks all aesthetic character in this form and assumes its value only when the lights and shades are reversed, while strictly respecting their contours and values. Such an operation would be almost impossible except by photography, an art unknown in the fourteenth century. The forger, while painting a negative, would have to know how to distribute light and shade so that after reversal they would give the figure which he attributed to Christ, and that with perfect precision; ... I add this argument whose force will be felt on reflection: Why should this forger have taken the trouble to realise a beauty not visible in his work and discernible only after reversal which was only later made possible? He would be working for his contemporaries and not for the twentieth century and the Academy of Sciences"[GM69].
Thurston deludedly thought the "history" of the Shroud was more important than its "scientific aspect':
"... M. Vignon's essay created a profound impression ... But before we come to take an account of what may be called the scientific aspect of the subject, there is an important preliminary question to be settled belonging to the domain of history"[TH03, 17-18].
But if "science" proved the Shroud is not painted (which it did - see 11Jul16), then the "history" of the Shroud which claimed it was "cunningly painted" (see 08Nov22), is wrong!

Thurston was doubly wrong that there was a d'Arcis Memorandum and that it was sent to the Pope, Clement VII (r. 1523-34):

"Under these circumstances Pierre d'Arcis drew up a very clear and able memorial, which he forthwith despatched to the Pope"[TH03, 21].
That there never was a d'Arcis Memorandum is evidenced by there being no original of it in the either the Troyes' or Papal archives:
"Similarly, there is no proof that the letter was ever sent to the pope. All that we have are the two copies of the rough draft. There is no copy of such a letter in the Vatican Archives; the Troyes diocesan records; in the works of Nicolaus Camuzat (the historian for the diocese); the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, where the copies of the rough draft were found; or anywhere else. Moreover, in numerous subsequent and extemporaneous documents from Pope Clement VII concerning the Shroud and its exhibition, the pope never said a word about such a previous communication from the bishop"[AM00, 152].
Thurston then quotes the supposed d'Arcis Memorandum (see [Pierre d'Arcis #19]) and in fact the English text of the d'Arcis Memorandum we have is Thurston's translation from its Latin[WI79, 266].

After quoting his English translation of the d'Arcis Memorandum, Thurston summarised its "confirmatory evidence," including:

"We possess nearly a score of documents which have some direct or indirect bearing on the facts reported in the Bishop's memorial. It may be said unhesitatingly that none of these in any one detail are in conflict with his statements. Such evidence as they furnish is wholly confirmatory"[TH03, 26].

But Shroud scholar Luigi Fossatt (1920-2007) checked the documents in the Appendix of Chevalier's monograph and found that those that are contrary to the Shroud's authenticity all boil down to one, "the so-called Memorandum of Pierre d'Arcis":

"But what documents and how many did Chevalier find, ninety-odd years ago, that are contrary to the authenticity of the Shroud? The first collection of documents appeared as an appendix in his Étude critique .... There are thirty-three items. 1. Four documents that are not concerned with authenticity, in fact they presume the Shroud to be authentic: a) the liturgical office approved by Julius II (1506); b) part of a text by a canon of Lirey who laments that the church no longer possesses the Holy Shroud of Our Lord; c) a text of Sixtus IV that indirectly mentions the Holy Shroud (1473); d) a brief report of an exposition (1503). 2. Eleven notarial and judicial documents concerning a litigation lasting several years between the canons of Lirey for the return of the Holy Shroud to their church, and the legitimate proprietor of the Shroud, Marguerite de Charny; 3. Five labels wrapped around the documents; 4. Calvin's derisory passage in Treatise on relics (1563). That leaves twelve documents. One is of very little interest because it is only a XVIth or XVIIth century résumé of an original. But not all of the remaining eleven can be considered contrary to authenticity: 1. The Memorandum of Pierre d'Arcis (1389); 2, 3, 4. The first version of the Bull of 6 January 1390 and the related letters to Pierre d'Arcis and the ecclesiastical officials of Autun, Langres and Châlons-sur-Marne; 5. The Report of the Liege investigation, which merely confirms what Clement VII had established, without giving any personal judgment. This includes the remaining six documents: a) the letter of Charles VI, king of France, to the bailiff of Troyes instructing him to requisition the Shroud (1389); b, c, d) the report of the bailiff, with two accompanying letters (1389); e) an official letter from the king's sergeant (1389); f) the letter from Clement VII to Geoffroy II de Charny, which is not concerned with authenticity (1390) ... All things considered, the documents contrary to authenticity, those that support a manual origin of the imprints, are reduced to one only: the so-called Memorandum of Pierre d'Arcis"[FL92, 3-4]!
Thurston's second item of "confirmatory evidence" was:
"A more important confirmation is to be found in the fact that whereas Pierre d'Arcis describes the shroud as fabricated in the time of his predecessor, it curiously happens that the history of the supposed relic for thirteen hundred years down to that precise date remains an absolute blank"[TH03, 26].
Thurston is lying! At the very end of his article, after admitting that his "conclusive" historical evidence against the Shroud, "would not perhaps be sufficient ... in a modern court of law"[TH03, 26], Thurston further admited that he knew the "history" of the Shroud having been "stolen" (in the 1204 Sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade as there was no other occasion when the Shroud was stolen):
"It is just conceivable, for instance, that the consciousness that the shroud had been stolen prevented the Charny family from giving any account of its previous history, and caused them even to acquiesce in the description of it as a mere picture or facsimile. But, on the other hand, the owners of stolen property do not generally seek to advertise the fact by bringing crowds together to view it, and in any case the alleged testimony of the artist remains unaccounted for"[TH03, 26].
And the crusader who stole the Shroud was Othon IV de la Roche (c.1170-1234), who `just happened' to be a direct ancestor of Jeanne de Vergy (c.1332–1428), the wife of Geoffroy I de Charny (c.1300-56)[see "1204b"] , and co-exhibitor with him of the Shroud in 1355[see "1355"]!

Thurston's, "But, on the other hand, the owners of stolen property do not generally seek to advertise the fact by bringing crowds together to view it" is weak. As he well knows, in his own translation of the d'Arcis Memorandum, d'Arcis said that after the 1355 exposition, the Shroud had been "kept ... hidden afterwards for thirty-four years or thereabouts down to the present year"[TH03, 22]! And in 1355 France had suffered the twin catastrophes of the Black Death from 1347-52, which killed 30%-50% of its population, and the English invasion in the first phase of the Hundred Years (1337–1360), so it was the right time to show the Shroud to the suffering French as a sign that God had not abandoned them.

Thurston's "in any case the alleged testimony of the artist remains unaccounted for"[TH03, 22], is even weaker. What "artist"? d'Arcis doesn't say, and being a lawyer [see "Pierre d'Arcis #19"], he would have if there had been one. And what "testimony"? That the Shroud had been "cunningly painted"? The Shroudman's image was not painted, so that "testimony" was false!

Thurston's third item of "confirmatory evidence" began:

"Our documents abundantly show that ... The Papal Court, influenced perhaps by Geoffrey de Charny [Geoffroy II de Charny (1352-98)], would even seem to have shown itself somewhat hostile, and the Bishop's request for the entire suppression of the shroud was bluntly refused"[TH03, 27].
Thurston evidently didn't know what I explained in a previous post, that Pope Clement VII knew from his former neighbour Jeanne de Vergy that the Shroud had been looted from Constantinople in 1204 by her ancestor, Othon de la Roche (c.1170-1234), and passed down to her, so it belonged to the Byzantine Empire, presenting the Pope with a diplomatic problem if at the 1389 exposition it was stated that the Shroud was the actual Shroud of Christ:
"Sox claimed that `The de Charnys appear to have been unconvinced of the authenticity of their Shroud, and quite willing to accept it as a 'likeness' or 'representation' (p.19[SH88, 19]). But Sox failed to consider that Pope Clement VII (r. 1378-94) who ordered that Bishop d'Arcis remain `perpetually silent' about the 1389 second Lirey exposition in exchange for Geoffroy II de Charny (c.1352–1398) and his mother Jeanne de Vergy (c.1332–1428) only claiming that the Shroud was `a representation'; as Robert of Geneva, was a nephew of Jeanne's second husband Aymon IV de Geneva (1324-88). And after Jeanne married Aymon in c.1359 she took her ~7 year-old son Geoffroy II, her ~3 year-old daughter Charlotte, and the Shroud, to live with Aymon in Anthon, High Savoy, where they were neighbours of Robert (see 16Feb15). There they would have given the future Pope a private viewing of the Shroud and explained to him that it was looted in the 1204 sack of Constantinople by Jeanne's ancestor, Othon de la Roche (c.1170-1234) [see 25Oct15). The problem for Pope Clement VII was that the Byzantine Empire (c. 330–1453) still existed and what's more, the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos (1332–1391), was a son of Anna of Savoy (1306-65), a daughter of Count Amadeus V of Savoy (1249-1323), who in turn established Chambéry as his seat! So if the de Charny's continued to claim that the Shroud was Jesus' burial Shroud, John V would have known it was the one looted from Constantinople and demanded it be returned, creating a diplomatic crisis for the Pope! It seems significant that it was only when the Byzantine Empire finally fell in 1453 that Geoffroy II's daughter, Marguerite de Charny (c. 1390–1460), transferred the Shroud to Duke Louis I of Savoy (1440-1465)."
Thurston's fourth and last item of "confirmatory evidence" was:
"But the most damning and conclusive piece of evidence, one to which Canon Chevalier himself, it seems to me, has hardly given sufficient prominence, is the undoubted fact that Geoffrey de Charny and the canons had never ventured to maintain to the Pope that their shroud was an authentic relic"[TH03, 28].
But this is an example of the Argument from Ignorance Fallacy: `I Herbert Thurston, living in England in the 1900s, do not know if Geoffrey II de Charny privately told Pope Clement VII in France in the 1380s (or his mother Jeanne de Vergy when he was Robert of Geneva in the 1360s), over 520 years before, that the Shroud was the very burial sheet of Jesus, therefore it isn't"!

Thurston continued:

"M. Vignon spends a page of his book in asking why Bishop Peter d'Arcis in writing to the Pope did not produce the authentic records from the archives of his episcopal court to prove that the shroud was a painting. The answer is very simple. Bishop d'Arcis did not waste time in arguing the point further for the sufficient reason that nobody contested it. Whatever the people believed, it is quite certain now that from the very first neither Geoffrey, nor the canons, nor the Pope supposed that the so-called shroud was anything else but an ordinary painting"[TH03, 28-29].
Leaving aside that falsehood (see above that Geoffrey II de Charny and Pope Clement VII did know the Shroud to be Jesus'), the fact is, and Thurston must know it, that there are no "authentic records from the archives of his [d'Arcis] episcopal court" in suport of d'Arcis' claim in his Memorandum that:
"Eventually, after diligent inquiry and examination, he [Bishop Henri de Poitiers] discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed"[TH03, 22]
That was Vignon's point, amongst others, in his 1902 book that, in "the archives of Troyes ... there is to be found no written record of any public disavowal of the relic":
"According to Monsieur Chevalier, this ecclesiastical pronouncement settles finally the question of the authenticity of the Shroud of Lirey ... The Bishop of 1389 recalls the fact that in 1353 his predecessor, after careful inquiry, had obtained a confession of the fraud from the forger himself, and proceeds ... [Latin omitted]. There, says Monsieur Chevalier, is the avowal of the actual forger himself. What more can be desired? We are not disposed to admit so easily an `ex parte' statement. The imputations and assumptions of the Bishop's inquiry - nay, the very avowal of the so-called forger - are worthless if we are able to prove that the impressions on the Shroud cannot have been painted, but are of the nature of a photographic negative ... We may be allowed to point out that the archives of Troyes must have been very badly kept when there is to be found no written record of any public disavowal of the relic. The Pope's letters on the subject make no mention of any such formal prohibition ... Indeed, had the authorities of the Abbey of Lirey, together with the Charny family, been guilty of the attempt to foist upon the religious world a manufactured relic they would have been well deserving of censure, if not of excommunication ..."[VP02, 57-58).
It would have been automatic, in d'Arcis' writing to the Pope about an investigation which discovered a confessed forger of the Shroud, to include details of the investigation, and especially the name of the forger. That those details were not included in d'Arcis' Meomorandum, shows that there was no investigation and no forger and why the d'Arcis Memorandum remained as two rough drafts and was never sent to Pope Clement!

Thurston completely ignored Vignon's point above that even if there had been an inquiry and a confession by an artist that he had painted the Shroud image, it would have all been "worthless if we are able to prove that the impressions on the Shroud cannot have been painted, but are of the nature of a photographic negative"[VP02, 58]. Vignon does just that in the remainder of his 1902 book, which Thurston, writing his article in 1903, must have read, but simply ignored.

Thurston also ignored Vignon's point above that had there been an investigation by Henri de Poitiers in 1355 which discovered that the Shroud was a painted forgery purporting to be the very burial sheet of Jesus and misleading a great many pilgrims, then "the Charny family ... would have been well deserving of censure, if not of excommunication"[VP02, 58]. When in fact, as we saw in "Pierre d'Arcis #19," amongst other evidence that Henri de Poitiers didn't have a problem with the Shroud, "Geoffroy II de Charny married Henri de Poitiers' niece, Marguerite de Poitiers (c. 1362-1418)!

Thurston concluded his article, with blatant self-contradiction, doubting "if anything can settle" the question whether the Shroud is a 14th century painted forgery or is the very burial sheet of Jesus, stating that "all history is relative," and what he treats "as conclusive ... would not ... be sufficient to convict ... in a modern court of law," yet "the probability of an error in the verdict of history" is "almost infinitesimal":

"There are many minor points that might be urged, but what has been said seems to me sufficient to settle the question, if anything can settle it. Of course all historical evidence is to some extent relative. What we treat as conclusive in discussing the events of the fourteenth century would not perhaps be sufficient to convict a prisoner on trial for his life in a modern court of law. None the less, the case is here so strong that however plausible M. Vignon's scientific hypothesis may seem, the probability of an error in the verdict of history must be accounted, it seems to me, as almost infinitesimal"[VPL, 29]!
In 1912 Thurston wrote an article, titled, "The Holy Shroud (of Turin)," in the Catholic Encyclopedia[OG85, 50; WR10, 121]. However, even though that article was corrected in 1968 in the hardcopy edition[WR10, 123], Thurston's fallacious article still appears in online editions[TH12]. Few Catholics and even fewer non-Catholic Christians believed in the Shroud after this article appeared[SD89, 23].

The first part of Thurston's article covered issues that have been dealt with above. However, having ignored Vignon's "photographic negative" evidence, Thurston unwisely tried to answer it:
"From the scientific point of view, however, the difficulty of the `negative' impression on the cloth is not so serious as it seems. This Shroud like the others was probably painted without fraudulent intent to aid the dramatic setting of the Easter sequence: `Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes'["Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way? ... I saw ... The angelic witnesses, the shroud and His clothes"[VPL]]. As the word sudarium suggested, it was painted to represent the impression made by the sweat of Christ, i.e. probably in a yellowish tint upon unbrilliant red. This yellow stain would turn brown in the course of centuries, the darkening process being aided by the effects of fire and sun. Thus, the lights of the original picture would become the shadow of Paleotto's reproduction of the images on the shroud is printed in two colours, pale yellow and red. As for the good proportions and æsthetic effect, two things may be noted. First, that it is highly probable that the artist used a model to determine the length and position of the limbs, etc.; the representation no doubt was made exactly life size. Secondly, the impressions are only known to us in photographs so reduced, as compared with the original, that the crudenesses, aided by the softening effects of time, entirely disappear"[TH12].

Thurston's colour reversion explanation had already been refuted by Vignon:
"At one time, a certain theory was advanced to explain away the negative ... that the image was painted as a positive, but that in the course of time it became a negative ... Dr. VIGNON ... disposed of this fanciful theory, by pointing out that, in such case, a chemical change should have taken place; that chemical change was possible only in pigments which were substantial; that there is no trace either of substantial pigments or pigments of any kind; that pigments could not have been attached to the thin, fragile material of the Shroud ; and that, even if they had been attached, they would long since have flaked off, owing to the fact that the Shroud has been rolled up in a casket for hundreds of years"[BP28, 95-96].
Thurston's final claim in his 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia article was:
"Lastly, the difficulty must be noticed that while the witnesses of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries speak of the image as being then so vivid that the blood seemed freshly shed, it is now darkened and hardly recognizable without minute attention. On the supposition that this is an authentic relic dating from the year A.D. 30, why should it have retained its brilliance through countless journeys and changes of climate for fifteen centuries, and then in four centuries more have become almost invisible? On the other hand if it be a fabrication of the fifteenth century this is exactly what we should expect"[TH12].
I had answered this in a previous post (15Aug20). Thurston provided no reference backing up his assertion and in the 1.7 gigabytes of Shroud literature on my system I cannot find anything with "vivid," "fresh" "shed" and "blood" together. So I assume that Thurston made it up! Below is an early 16th century depiction of the Shroud in a prayer book, presumably owned by Queen Claude of France (1499–1524)[DE16].

[Above (enlarge)[DE16]: An early 16th century depiction of the Shroud in its pre-1532 fire state.]

As can be seen above, although the bishops' clothing is vivid and bright, the image on the Shroud is faint and the blood is dull brown, as it is today, 5 centuries later! So there is no evidence that in "the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries" "the image" was "then so vivid that the blood seemed freshly shed," as Thurston, claimed, without references. And there is evidence (see above) that in the sixteenth century the Shroud's image was faint and the blood brown, as it is today! Turning Thurston's conclusion on its head: `since the Shroud is the very burial sheet of Jesus and not a medieval forgery, this is exactly what we should expect'!

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to extract or quote from any part of it (but not the whole post), provided the extract or quote includes a reference citing my name, its title, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page. [return]

AF82. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ.
AM00. Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY.
BB91. Bonnet-Eymard, B., "Study of original documents of the archives of the Diocese of Troyes in France with particular reference to the Memorandum of Pierre d'Arcis," in Berard, A., ed., 1991, "History, Science, Theology and the Shroud," Symposium Proceedings, St. Louis Missouri, June 22-23, 1991, The Man in the Shroud Committee of Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo TX, 233-260.
BP28. Beecher, P.A., 1928, "The Holy Shroud: Reply to the Rev. Herbert Thurston, S.J.," M.H. Gill & Son: Dublin.
CU00. Chevalier, 1900, "Etude critique sur l'origine du Saint Suaire de Lirey-Chambery-Turin," Picard: Paris.
DE16. Donandoni, E., 2016, "5 minutes with ... The earliest painted representation of the Turin Shroud," Christie's, 7 June.
FL92. Fossati, L., 1992, "A Critical Study of the Lirey Documents," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 41, December, 2-11.
GM69. Green, M., 1969, "Enshrouded in Silence: In search of the First Millennium of the Holy Shroud," Ampleforth Journal, Vol. 74, No. 3, Autumn, 319-345.
HTW. "Herbert Thurston," Wikipedia, 1 May 2022.
OG85. O'Rahilly, A. & Gaughan, J.A., ed., 1985, "The Crucified," Kingdom Books: Dublin.
PM23. Potts, M., 2023, "Herbert Thurston," Psi Encyclopedia, The Society for Psychical Research: London, 2 February.
SD89. Scavone, D.C., 1989, "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA.
SH88. Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK.
TH03. Thurston, H., 1903, "The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History," The Month, CI, January, 17-29.
TH12. Thurston, H., 1912, "The Holy Shroud (of Turin)," The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent.
VP02. Vignon, P., 1902, "The Shroud of Christ," University Books: New York NY, Reprinted, 1970.
VPL. "Victimae Paschali Laudes (unknown translation)," Wikisource, 25 January 2016.
WR10. Wilcox, R.K., 2010, "The Truth About the Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery," [1977], Regnery: Washington DC.
WE54. Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961.
WI79. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition.

Posted 21 February 2023. Updated 7 May 2023.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Stephen Jones
My sincere congratulations for this masterpiece of historical investigation to dismiss skeptic claims of Ulysse Chevalier and reverend Thurston based on the infamous D'Arcis Memorandum.
I read it with much interest and will recommend its reading by those who search the truth.
warmest regards
Antero de Frias Moreira
(Centro Português de Sindonologia)

Stephen E. Jones said...

Antero said...

>My sincere congratulations for this masterpiece of historical investigation to dismiss skeptic claims of Ulysse Chevalier and reverend Thurston based on the infamous D'Arcis Memorandum.

Thank you.

>I read it with much interest and will recommend its reading by those who search the truth.

Thank you again.

>warmest regards
Antero de Frias Moreira
(Centro Português de Sindonologia)

Stephen E. Jones
MY POLICIES. Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. Except that comments under my current post can be on any one Shroud-related topic without being off-topic. To avoid time-wasting debate (2Tim 2:23; Titus 3:9), I normally allow only one comment per individual under each one of my posts. I reserve the right to respond to any comment as a separate blog post.