Several years ago, TIME MAGAZINEâ€™s cover story asked the question â€śIs God Dead?â€ť
in our society. While it is generally believed today that somewhere between 75%
and 85% (depending upon which poll one reads) of the people in America believe
in a supreme being, the belief is trending down, and those beliefs that do exist
are varied, from those who say they believe, yet donâ€™t practice any faith, to
those who are daily practitioners of their faith, and every combination in
between. In the early years of this great country, if polls on the subject had
been taken, the likelihood is that the believers would have reached percentages
exceeding 99.99% of the population, and the vast majority would have been
regular practitioners. The purpose of this post is not to consider the reasons
for this decline in belief and what effect that has had on our society. Each of
us our own opinion on these questions, and each opinion has a germ of truth to
it. The question here is what would happen if there were actually concrete proof
of the existence of God? What would that do for our society?
Until 1988, most people who knew about the existence of Shroud of Turin would
either have had no opinion on whether it was the actual burial linen of Jesus
Christ, or would have grudgingly shrugged that it could be the real deal. Until
that fateful year, all scientific studies done on the cloth established that it
bore pollens, fibers, and other natural elements from the time of Jesusâ€™s
existence, and the marks and images on it were consistent with the biblical
description of Jesusâ€™s crucifixion. Then in 1988, a carbon dating test was done
on a tiny piece of the edge of the cloth with three noted laboratories coming to
the same conclusion: that the cloth was made sometime between 1260 A.D. and 1390
A.D., and therefore could not have been the burial cloth of a man who died
around 30 A.D. Atheists and others who viewed Jesus with disdain cheered the
finding and declared that the cloth was a hoax painted by some artist in the
Middle Ages. True believersâ€™ hopes were dashed.
But, was the carbon date correct? New evidence suggests strongly the test was
wrong. I wonâ€™t get into the details here, as it is part of the mystery which
unfolds in my new thriller, THE FIRST GOSPEL. However,
if it was wrong, and the truth about the Shroud were revealed to a world in need
of hope and something real to hold onto, would the effect be that all would have
to then believe in God because there would be clear proof? Would that make us a
kinder, gentler nation and world? Those are questions we must each grapple with
in our search for peace and happiness in our society. Let us go together to
learn the truth and let us spread that truth to others so that we may all live
joyfully in this life.
MATT GUESSED HANNAH was waiting in the parking lot when he didnâ€™t see her as he
stepped onto the bankâ€™s stoop. He tucked the folder under his arm, zipped his
jacket to the collar, and stuffed his hands into his pockets. He then walked
down the steps, and turned north toward the parking lot. He took less than a
half dozen steps before he heard a voice so deep and breathless that it almost
slipped past him, until it caught suddenly and forced a shock of fear to skitter
up his spine.
â€śI will take the folder, Mr. Carter.â€ť
Mattâ€™s first reaction was to stop and turn, but as he started to do so, a body
bumped him firmly from behind, and he felt the pressure of hard metal against
his lower back.
â€śWalk, Mr. Carter,â€ť the voice commanded. â€śDo not turn. Remove the folder from
under your arm and hand it back to me without turning.â€ť
Mattâ€™s mind was numb. Although he heard the words and was able to continue
walking, it was only because the bump and pressure of the metal object had
propelled him forward. He couldnâ€™t formulate the thought necessary to obey the
command nor could he maintain his forward motion.
He again stopped and was again bumped, this time with a force that caused him to
lurch sharply forward, stumble off balance, and turn sideways. Mechanically,
despite the warning, he turned his head and caught steel blue eyes.
â€śMove!â€ť the voice commanded with a promise that death would follow if not
In an instant of slow motion clarity, Matt became aware of passersby glancing at
them, the two now suddenly facing each other, one glaring with deadly menace and
the other staring in stupefied ignorance at the coat pocket that held the gun.
It was in that instant that Hannah appeared. She came up from behind the voice.
Matt watched her raise the hard plastic knuckles of her key chain, and in a
single, savage, downward thrust, drive the sharp bottom knuckle into the manâ€™s
arm. He screamed. Hannah then brought the knuckle up sharply and slammed the
upper point into his chin. The man lurched backward, his damaged arm bleeding
through his jacket and rising to his chest in a protective motion, while his
other arm pin-wheeled for balance. Mattâ€™s shock was broken; his senses came
roaring back. Hannah grabbed his arm.
â€śCâ€™mon Matt!â€ť she screamed and tugged.
But Matt struck out, driving his lower shin between the off-balance manâ€™s legs
and up into his exposed groin. The connection forced a gust of air and a hoarse
scream from the man as he doubled over and grabbed at the wounded area.
â€śMatt, please!â€ť Hannah screamed again.
But Matt didnâ€™t stop. He stepped to the man, who, although bent over and reeling
in agony, had lifted his head and was glaring murderously at Matt. Matt swung
his right arm up at the face and his tightly clenched fist hammered into the
upturned jaw. The manâ€™s eyes rolled up and he flew backward, crashing to the
ground unconscious. Matt stood over his enemy as blood pooled beneath the manâ€™s
head where it had struck a stone planter. Adrenalin raced through him. He kicked
the prone figure viciously in the side.
â€śYou sonuvabitch!â€ť he shouted. â€śLeave us alone!â€ť
â€śMathew!â€ť Hannahâ€™s shouts finally broke through his haze. â€śWeâ€™ve got to get away
Matt glared at the unconscious attacker, fear and hatred battling in a blast of
adrenalin. Finally, he bent, grabbed the gun lying in the manâ€™s open palm, and
followed Hannah away from the gawking crowd.
THE FIRST GOSPEL, in the tradition of â€śThe DaVinci Code,â€ť is an historical
thriller at the center of which lies the truth about the greatest archaeological
mystery the world has ever known.
Edessa, Turkey 943 A.D.: Eighty thousand Byzantine knights lay siege to the
Muslim citadel. Prepared to raze the city, the Byzantine commander offers to
spare it if the Muslim emir will hand over a fourteen-foot long linen cloth. The
stunned emir readily delivers the cloth that bears the shocking full-body image
of a crucified man.
Arizona almost 1100 years later: Matt Carter, an under-employed law school
graduate, discovers the brutally murdered body of his old professor, Samuel
Rosen. When Matt returns home, he finds a letter posted by Rosen before his
murder. Rosen begs Matt to protect an ancient parchment owned by his family for
generations. Unknown to Matt, the parchment holds the key to the
two-thousand-year-old mystery of the Cloth of Edessa. Now Matt becomes the
unwitting prey of those who will stop at nothing to keep his parchmentâ€™s truth
From the magnificent opulence of Romeâ€™s St. Peterâ€™s Cathedral to the
breathtaking beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, readers will become part of
Mattâ€™s frantic search for a truth that will forever change political, religious,
and industrial fortunes around the world â€¦ even as Matt fights for survival.
Darryl Nyznyk lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with his wife, Loretta.
After practicing law for 20 years, Nyznyk became a full–time writer and
teacher. He is also the author of the holiday novel, Mary's Son: A Tale of
Face it! Jesus changed the world. There are those that dispute his miracles. But the greatest miracle of them all, ardent followers facing certain death by crucifixion or worse, went off by themselves to preach and tell the story to neighbors and enemies, mostly enemies. And they told the story. And they were slaughtered. And from that humble beginning of a few guys preaching peace and love, Jesus dominated the entire Western World. None of that can be disputed. That Jesus would leave a physical proof of his existence is logical and compelling. Now, in that context, letâ€™s look at the Shroud of Turin. Letâ€™s put in on the scales of justice. Letâ€™s weigh the evidence. Or maybe you shouldnâ€™t. Because, if you do, what can you say that supports the position that the Shroud is not the burial cloth of Jesus? (Bud Mirassou 8:03pm April 10, 2017)