Saturday, December 27, 2014



Konnersreuth is a small Bavarian town and the home of Teresa Neumann.  I visited the farming town of about 1,000 people because I had heard of the stigmatic, Teresa Neumann, from my mother and somehow remembered it while I was stationed in Germany in 1952,  It is amazing that Ed Klem and I could find a bus from near our Grafenwohr maneuvers site to where we got of the bus and walked down the road to Konnersreuth, passing a farm with a team of bullocks.

Entering Konnersreuth

As we entered the town, one of the first houses on the left had a small shrine in the garden next to the house of Teresa Neumann.  

The house was home to the Neumann family and their ten children, Teresa was the oldest and born in 1898.  The streets of town were almost deserted, and Ed and I seemed to be the only tourists.  I don't remember now, 62 years later, if we found a place to have lunch or how we learned that it was Teresa's home.

According to an account in The Two Stigmatists PADRE PIO and TERESA NEUMANN  by Charles M. Carty, which I bought in 1959, the Neumanns farmed, but the farming was mostly done by the mother because the father also worked as a tailor to supplement their income.  Teresa also helped with the farm work.  The caption in the book, of a black and white photo of the trellised end of the home, noted that Teresa's bedroom was in the upper level of the home.

Her church, the steeple of which is visible in the first photo, was a short way from the home.  A second picture of two very similar ones was selected because it had someone in it as seen below.

Inside the church, the view toward the main altar shows no one.  But while we were in the church a lady, dressed in predominately black clothes, may have been Teresa Neumann as she was attending to some tasks in the altar end of the church.  I suspect it was her because she was wearing black gloves, perhaps to cover up the stigmata on her hands, or perhaps the church was unheated.

We departed without disturbing her and somehow managed to get back before the bus went back to Regensburg, or wherever it was that we could get transportation back to the Grafenwohr maneuvers area.


Stigmatics are individuals that typically bear a wound on each hand and each foot at points where Christ was impaled with nails to the cross as well as one on the side where the soldier's lance pierced him.  The wounds usually bleed on Fridays and especially so on the Friday commemorating the Crucifixion.  In Teresa Neumann's case, she also had a wound on the shoulder corresponding to the effects Christ had carrying the cross for his crucifixion in addition to numerous smaller ones from a crown of thorns.

Teresa Neumann is reported to have received the stigmata in 1926 shortly after she was miraculously cured from a series of different health problems for the sixth time in three years after praying for St. Teresa of Lisieux's intercession.  Several spiritual gifts usually accompany the stigmata, one most of us would understand is the gift of healing.  One that was intensely investigated was her regaining her weight after losing much blood each Friday but only eating a wafer of eucharistic bread each day and not drinking water for most of the 31 years up to the time of publication of the book mentioned above.  

Teresa Neumann died in 1962.  Carty quotes from Konnersreuth Today, (1950) by Frohlich, as Teresa responding to a fundamental question of life about the meaning of suffering with "The voluntary assumption of suffering in the spirit of atonement and expiation is an heroic act of love of God and profits one's neighbor's."

Joe Engemann     Kalamazoo, MI     December 27, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014



The preceding post of December 8, 2014 gives a condensed version of the evolutionary line listing 25 groups going backward from humans to an early animal group, the amoeboflagellates.  The list ignores the many other lines of evolution leading to other existing groups of animals such as echinoderms, mollusks, arthropods, and classes of annelids other than the polychaetes.  The polychaetes also are the earliest common ancestor of those groups as well as of all vertebrate groups.

The time scale of our ancestral tree follows the 25 groups of the first listing, but in reverse order with some additional steps beginning with the creation of elements and three other pre-biotic events not well covered in earlier posts.  The elements were formed in a second or later generation of stars preceding our sun.  They provided the material that eventually produced the more complex molecules from which living systems evolved on earth.

Those complex molecules formed from various processes as the earth cooled and the oceans formed.  Carbon dioxide, ammonia, water, methane, and various minerals were the materials acted upon by heat, radiation, and lightening to produce amino acids and other compounds.  Chance interactions of those compounds were probably enhanced by concentration in tidal pools.  There the mixing by waves may have utilized not only products produced by adhesion to various rocks, but compounds imported by water currents from remote locations.  One of those locations could well be the thermal vent areas proposed by Corliss as a place were life originated.  But similar processes could have been enhanced at inter-tidal locations as lava flows entered the sea or at other volcanic locations.

Following the four pre-biotic steps are five steps leading to the choanoflagellates, the ancestral group from which all animals arose.  Plants presumably are derived from earlier flagellated ancestors.  The remaining steps as well as the preceding steps are only cameos along a continuum of populations of organisms usually much like their closest ancestors and descendants.

Ten steps from sponges to the first chordates took about a billion years to occur.  The preceding evolution of living organisms took almost twice as long.  From the earliest, almost worm-like, chordates to us took a little over a half-billion year.  About eighty percent of that time was taken to produce the first primates.  It is likely our ancestral line never included a monkey that could hang from its tail as some South American monkeys can.

I mentioned the later because a monkey, if it could philosophize, might pity us for having lost our tail.  Likewise, the course of evolution includes many steps that might be considered regressive, but ones enabling later advances.  One of the most prominent, but least known, of such type event is the reduction of systems suffered during the evolution of polychaete ancestors to our pogonophoran ancestors.

Joseph Engemann     December 12, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014



From several chapters of my 2010 unpublished manuscript, Evolution Insights, I have pieced together the following direct lineage leading back to our protozoan ancestors.  Within the groups listed were many other groups ancestral to side branches making up an evolutionary tree of life.  Implied for the lineages within each group is a vast continuum of extinct species from those much as in the preceding or subsequent phyla or groups named.

                                          Primitive Primates [extinct]
                                          Insectivorus mammals
                                          Early mammals [extinct]
                                          Therapsid reptiles [extinct]
                                          Stem reptiles [extinct]
                                          Labrinthodont amphibians [extinct]
                                          Crossopterygian fishes
                                          Jawed fishes
HEMICHORDATA           Hemichordata
ANNELIDA                      Pogonophora
[hypothetical]                     [Protonemertean][extinct]
PLATYHELMINTHES     Triclad turbellarian
CNIDARIA                       Hydrozoans
                                          Tetracorals [extinct]
                                          Tabulate corals [extinct]
PORIFERA                       Sclerosponges
                                          Simple sponges
PROTISTA                       Choanoflagellates
PROTOZOA                    Amoeboflagellates

A Time Scale of events associated with the above transition in reverse order beginning with the formation of elements in the universe follows the first seven below.  [bya = origin in billion of years ago;  mya = origin in millions of years ago]

Item or adaptation       -       Origin       -       Group

Elements                               > 12 bya
Ammonia, water, methane     > 4 bya
Amino acids, small organic molecules    ~ 4 bya
RNA, DNA, organic membranes          ~ 4 bya

Early cells    -     ~ 3.5 bya      -                bacteria
Photosynthesis     -     ~ 2.5 bya    -       photosynthetic bacteria
Chromosomes, nucleus, sex     -     ~ 2 bya     -     amoeboid protozoans
Cells with mitochondria and flagella    -    < 2 bya    -    amoebas, flagellates
Amoeboid and flagellated cells in colonies -  ~ 1.5 bya  -  Choanoflagellates

Extracellular skeletal fibers, spicules  -  < 1.5 bya   -   Porifera (sponges)
Sponges with massive carbonate base   -      < 1.5 bya   -    Sclerospongea
Nerves, muscles, gut      -     ~ 1 bya    -     Anthozoa
Manubrium, rhopalium     -    ~ 1 bya    -    Hydrozoa
Head, bilateral symmetry, sex organs   -    ~ 1 bya   -    Triclad flatworm
Blood vessels, anus     -       ~ 1 bya    -   [protonemertean]
Segmentation/metamerism, nephridia   -  ~ 1 bya  -  Polychaete annelids
Loss of segments, gut, & spiral cleavage    -    ~ 1 bya   -    Pogonophora
Gut restored, gill slits     -     < 1 bya     -      Hemichordates
Notochord    -    ~ 0.5 bya    -    Cephalochordates (first chordates)

Cartilaginous skeleton, vertebrae     -     ~ 0.5 bya    -       Agnatha
Jawed fish, bony skeleton     -      > 400 mya    
Lungs, fleshy fins          -       > 400 mya     -      lungfish
Four fleshy fins      -    ~ 400 mya      -      -     crossopterygians
Four bony legs, three chambered heart    -    ~ 400 mya    -      amphibians
Shelled egg, internal fertilization      -     ~ 300 mya    -     reptiles
Hair, large brain, warm-blooded     -     ~ 200 mya    -    mammals
Arboreal insect eaters, clawed   -   ~ 150 mya   -   insectivorous mammals

Arboreal fruit eaters, nails     -     ~ 70 mya     -     primates
Large size and brain, loss of tail    -     ~ 40 mya    -    apes
Upright posture, brain volume increases   -    ~ 20 mya      -   hominoids
Primitive humans, still larger brains     -    ~ 4 mya    -    Australopithecus
Modern humans, brain doubles  -  > 40,000 B.C.  -  Homo sapiens

    [protonemertean] is a suggested line of near relatives of nemerteans

The polychaetes were the protostomes that gave rise to deuterostomes through the Pogonophora as discussed in previous posts of last year.
The polychaetes also gave rise to all the advanced protostomes such as arthropods and mollusks through other lineages not shown here (see earlier posts on arthropods and mollusks).

The view above is at odds with the mistaken impression in recent literature which accepts two erroneous groups, including one that places nematodes in an untenable ancestral position for several phyla.  The mainstream position of sponges is seldom recognized nor is the simple transition from sponges to cnidarians to flatworms then nemerteans.  I expect my peers will be unable to comprehend the above until they grasp the extreme longevity of deep sea ancestors.  I take sole responsibility for any errors in these comments and tend to leave off my title of Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan - to avoid being a source of embarrassment for such a fine institution and for those who were my students.

Joseph G. Engemann           December 9, 2014