Friday, December 10, 2004
Tonight is "Joan of Arcadia" night at our house. Has it come to this? Not that I can relate to Joan, but I remember our family, when I was growing up, watching "The Waltons," "Little House on the Prairie," "Andy Griffith," etc. Shows where religion was portrayed as part of the characters' lives. Even "All in the Family" played Edith's belief with strength. Now, we either watch those old shows or wait for some sprinkling of faith like George Lopez waiting for Ricky's Spanish.
I read a review of "Spiderman 2" in a Catholic newspaper that made mention of items in his house that appeared to have some Catholic meaning (when I see the DVD, I will look closer), but how sad is that, that Spiderman's faith has to be mined from background hints.
I watched a bit of "Rodney" the other night. Rodney is kind of blue-collar comic who now has a TV show (I doubt it will last, though I do find him funny sometimes). Rodney was trying to find a video game for his son's Christmas present and ended up swiping one from a charity bin (he put money in for it). His family was waiting for him at Church but it was obvious the family only goes once or twice a year -- they couldn't find the Church bathroom, they weren't familiar with anything -- and they were only going for Christmas to expose their kids to their religion. How's THAT for your 2004 version of the Waltons? Rodney ended up backing his truck through a wire that was holding up a giant statue of "Touchdown Jesus" which fell onto his truck. This seems to be the more common portrayal of religion today. Religion portrayed like Amos and Andy portrayed blacks. For laughs.
Greely and his colleagues did not conclude that such experiments should never be done. Indeed, he and many other philosophers have been wrestling with the question of why so many people believe it is wrong to breach the species barrier.
Does the repugnance reflect an understanding of an important natural law? Or is it just another cultural bias, like the once widespread rejection of interracial marriage?
This is not, of course, a new idea. H.G. Wells wrote "The Island of Dr. Moreau" in 1896, after all, and I just read something similar by Robin Cook called "Chromosome 6" a few years ago. In the Robin Cook book, scientists developed apes with genetically identical organs to wealthy humans. The problem was, the apes (kept on an island) became smarter than normal apes, developed fire and stone tools and when, just when, do human laws kick in for animals who are part human?
For the record, I don't believe the human species ever had a "widespread repugnance" of interracial marriage and if scientists have lost the ability to feel revulsion when considering growing human fetuses inside animals then perhaps they should stop gazing at their own navels and spend a little time holding babies or, better yet, mothers' hands in pediatrics ICU.
The most radical experiment, still not conducted, would be to inject human stem cells into an animal embryo and then transfer that chimeric embryo into an animal's womb. Scientists suspect the proliferating human cells would spread throughout the animal embryo as it matured into a fetus and integrate themselves into every organ.
Such "humanized" animals could have countless uses. They would almost certainly provide better ways to test a new drug's efficacy and toxicity, for example, than the ordinary mice typically used today.
But few scientists are eager to do that experiment. The risk, they say, is that some human cells will find their way to the developing testes or ovaries, where they might grow into human sperm and eggs. If two such chimeras — say, mice — were to mate, a human embryo might form, trapped in a mouse.
Not everyone agrees that this would be a terrible result.
"What would be so dreadful?" asked Ann McLaren, a renowned developmental biologist at the University of Cambridge in England. After all, she said, no human embryo could develop successfully in a mouse womb. It would simply die, she told the academy. No harm done.
No harm done. Here, I think we would have an ally in PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Even if PETA doesn't care about the human baby dying, perhaps they would raise a ruckus about the mice.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
There are 10 holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church:
The Immaculate Conception on December 8
Christmas on December 25
Mary, the Mother of God on January 1
Epiphany on January 6
St. Joseph on March 19
St. Peter and St. Paul on June 29
The Assumption of Mary on August 15
All Saints on November 1
The Ascension 40 days after Easter and
Corpus Christi 60 days after Easter
I find the requirements of the Catholic Church refreshing. Although most Methodists were sure to attend church on Christmas and Easter, those were the only days I can remember overfull pews. Of course, our Catholic Church wasn't overfull at the 5:30pm Mass last night (judging by the parking lot when I pulled in at 6:30pm), it was about the same size crowd as a normal Saturday evening mass... and there were two other masses held earlier in the day.
Faith should demand something of us.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
How little worthy of any love thou art!Well said.
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!
I see New Line is going to try to make Pullman's "His Dark Materials" into a movie. I read these three books and loved them. I realize that many people, especially Catholics, find them offensive, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, etc. The thing is, obviously, the church can be a horrible institution. In fact, it has been a horrible institution at different times in the past and recently. It wasn't for nothing that Jesus told his disciples to "beware the yeast of the pharisees" in Mark 8:15. I understand Pullman may have written these books with the worst of intentions, but I found the stories full of loyalty, love, excitement, danger and invention. That the Church is used as a villian in a story seems nothing new to me. Similarly, I enjoyed reading Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code." Books, in fact, ideas, can be corrupting... but how weak must be one's faith to be corrupted by fiction. Whether it's adults or children being corrupted, it seems handy to have a story handy that can bring the weakness to light.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
I like our priest, he is, as my grandmother would say, full of piss and vinegar, which to me means he's boisterous and full of energy. 'Penance' is self-punishment for our sins... it is the prayers or tasks the priest assigns us in order to show we are truly sorry and seeking forgiveness. Our priest said he gives soft penance, generally, because he sees it as more important for people to continue coming to confession and not so afraid or dreadful that the penance will be too hard.
It was a fun class. The older sponsors and RCIA team members shared stories of past Confessions and Last Rights, etc. and our priest spoke of where the church went wrong in the past and how it is now.