Perceptions of Religious Imagery in Natural Phenomena [PHIL-OSOPHY]
For some, we're going to learn a few new words. Pareidolia is a psychological occurrence in which your mind responds to stimulus, usually an image or sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists. Think of those who see detailed images in Rorschach ink blots, or those who see Ronald Reagan's face in a cinnamon bun.
Then there is simulacra, where you see an image of a spiritual or religious figure on a piece of wood or glass, let's say. Perhaps you've seen the face of Mary in the window of that hospital in Milton, Massachusetts.
And within faith traditions, images like the Shroud of Turin or the Veil of Veronica are believed to be acheropite, meaning "not created by human hands."
You may be wondering where all of this is going. Look at the photo of the burning church above. It's the First Baptist Church in Wakefield, Mass. I previously wrote about how the large painting of Jesus escaped unharmed as everything around it burned to a crisp. As you look at the photo, focus on the church's steeple. Do you see anything out of the ordinary?
Some of my friends smile and say it's pareidolia. And then there are folks, like me, who smile and say you are seeing something of miraculous origin. What do say?
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.