Monday, May 6. 2013
A very interesting discussion with Chelsea on the Church and biotechnology and how the Church is far more "forward" than the rest of society where we conclude that "It is not time for the Church to catch up to us. It is time for us to catch up with the Church."
Monday, April 22. 2013
It is as inevitable as the passing of time. Once there is a new pope, the world begins to wonder when the Catholic Church is going to leave its "medieval thinking" behind and join the "modern" age. It is the 21st century after all, and the Church needs to stop being so "backward."
I am a cradle Catholic, and, when I was young, I subconsciously believed that the Church was "behind the times" and "out of touch."
As I began my career and worked in cutting-edge biotech laboratories, there was always a nagging question: How can my Church, so rooted in the past, have something relevant to say about modern technologies like stem-cell research, cloning and genetic engineering that are coming in the future?
Then I began researching these technologies and discovered something that changed the way I viewed my Church and my faith. Elbow deep in the latest biotechnology news, I discovered that the Church was far from backward, out of touch and irrelevant.
It is the most forward-thinking institution I have ever encountered — and more relevant today than ever.
Continue reading at National Catholic Register >>
Wednesday, March 13. 2013
Thursday, September 27. 2012
My good friend Chelsea Zimmerman at Reflections of a Paralytic has interviewed me for Support a Catholic Speaker Month. It was our first time out using Skype and doing an on-line interview so the sound isn't always the best and my head is gigantic (note to self: sit back from the camera) but all in all I think we did a great job. Check it out:
Monday, January 2. 2012
Several years ago, I remember watching a story on the efforts to save India's gharial crocodile. On the verge of extinction, it is the most endangered crocodile on the planet. After sending out thousands of gharials into the wild, only 200 breeding adults are left. I remember marveling at the lengths the researchers and volunteers were going to save this prickly, yet majestic animal.
And then I asked myself, "Why?" If the gharial crocodile is just a product of random mutations and that were selected by nature, why would anyone try and save it? Why not let natural selection take its course and let the gharial go extinct? In our creation-free, science-only mindset, why were we not celebrating the extinction of the gharial? I mean, some other species will adapt and take its place in the ecosystem; Darwin's natural selection once again proved. That is cause for celebration right?
And yet conservation efforts by humans abound. Why? Why try and subvert the process of natural selection? Some would say it is because humans are causing the extinction of these species. But if we are better adapted to our environment and the gharials can't adapt well enough to deal with us, then why not let them die out. Is it not the survival of the fittest? Are humans not the species able to adapt to nearly any environment? Are we not the most fit to survive just about anywhere? Then why do we care about species that can't make it on their own?
And yet even the most die-hard Darwinian atheist would applaud the conservation efforts of anyone trying to save an endangered species. Why? I believe it is because humans inherently know that we are charged with being the curators of God's creation. We are meant to protect and preseve our environment because it has inherent value beyond simple randomness. We want to and should save the gharial crocodile because that is our charge. We know it even if we do not believe that there is a Creator that has given us that charge.
I think caring for our environment and the other species in it goes beyond just a desire to preserve our habitat, I think it is a hard wired understanding that humans have been entrusted with caring for this planet and everything on it. And we better not screw it up.
And yet the radical environmentalism that has surfaced in that last decade has taken a scary departure from this idea. Instead of trying to protect and preserve nature, there is a growing meme that it is the human that needs to go extinct. We have to get rid of ourselves in order that nature survive. Many environmental types truly believe that the planet would be a better place without us and they want us gone. Some range from just asking that we voluntarily do not have children, some want to implement a global one-child policy like China, and some hope for an outbreak of a virus like Ebola to get rid of what they see as a plague on the Earth.
And yet would Earth be a better place without its curators? I believe I found the answer in Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's, now Pope Benedict XVI, collection of essays, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Creation and the Fall. He profoundly warns:
Human beings no longer have any use for themselves; they would prefer to put themselves out of the way so that nature might be well again. But this is not how to bring healing to the world, for we go against the Creator when we no longer want to exist as the human beings that he wanted to exist. It is not thus that we heal nature, but rather thus that we destroy ourselves and creation by removing from it the hope that lies in it and the greatness to which it is called.
Tuesday, August 30. 2011
In a time where religion is often portrayed as an enemy of truth, it is nice to be reminded that in Nazi Germany, it was not the newspapers or universities that had the courage to stand against Hitler. Instead, it was the Church. From Time magazine December 23, 1940, Albert Einstein speaks about the Church's resistance in Nazi Germany:
The Church today still stands for intellectual truth and moral freedom. Although the propaganda that surrounds us says otherwise. But it is the Church that speaks for the human embryo that is frozen, sold, discarded or torn apart for harvestable biological material. It is the Church that reminds us that we all began our lives as small as the period at the end of this sentence and our size does not diminish our worth. It is the Church that stands firm against the creation and manipulation of human life in the laboratory. It is the Church that speaks out against the seek-and-destroy mission going on in the womb against those that are not deemed "genetically fit." The truth is that when the Church stands for the embryo and fetus, it stands for the inherent dignity in every human life regardless of DNA or point of development.
The Nazi's dehumanized the Jews and other "undesirables" and the Church stood for them, however imperfectly. Now the Church is nearly alone in standing for the youngest and most voiceless members of our species. Those that many have gone to great lengths to insist are not human. We know better. I pray that those who despise the Church today will see in the future what the Church has done to protect the most vulnerable and innocent of lives and will praise it unreservedly as Einstein did.
Thursday, August 11. 2011
Fiction is as instructive as non-fiction, maybe even more so. The best fiction catches us up in a world outside our own all the while teaching us truths about ourselves and humanity. The pleasure of reading a great story cements those truths into the deepest corners of our mind. Dean Koontz has been quietly reeducating the masses for years. Now there is Brian J. Gail and his trilogy Fatherless, Motherless, and Childless. I have just finished Fatherless and Motherless and am eagerly awaiting the release of Childless scheduled for this fall.
Brian J. Gail's trilogy is uniquely Catholic taking on the American sacred cows of contraception in Fatherless and IVF and embryo destructive research in Motherless. Through Father John Sweeney, the reader discovers the destructive nature of the Pill, the evils of creating life in a dish and the transhumanist underpinnings of embryonic stem cell research. The characters are real Catholics faced with real problems. True to life, Gail's characters make their decisions in the face of life's dilemmas and their choices reverberate through their spiritual lives. Gail is clearly a business man with many passages in both novels taking place in New York board rooms. I admit I sometimes felt lost amongst the business speak, but Gail depicts a reality: that many of our current moral conundrums originated with decisions made by powerful businessmen willing to obscure the truth to maximize profits.
Fatherless and Motherless go beyond the obvious and address issues that lay hidden in the background. One is the lack of leadership from our priests and bishops. Gail is courageous to write about what many Catholics feel but are afraid to articulate: we are hungry for guidance but many of our religious lack the courage to tell us the truth and lead us to spiritual food and water. I feel this acutely when I am invited to speak at a parish on genetic engineering or genetic testing or cloning and the priest does not attend. Attendees are always shocked about how much they did not know about topics they thought they understood. They nearly always lament, "Too bad Father wasn't here for this." In fact, of the dozens of presentations that I have given, only 2 priests have attended. One busted in halfway through and then, when it was over, proceeded to scold me about all the things I didn't discuss. The first time I offered to give a presentation on stem cell research during the height of the stem cell debates, one pastor quickly interrupted me and said, "Well I am no theologian, go talk to Father C." I went to Father C. He looked at me like I had a third eye growing out of my forehead and, like a hot potato, passed me off to the parish education coordinator. She told me to talk to the Knights of Columbus.
I believe there is something for every Catholic in Gail's trilogy, well unless you are a Cafeteria Catholic. Then you will find Fatherless and Motherless a scathing indictment of either your ignorance or your arrogance depending on what ails you. Childless will probably deliver a similar smackdown. I can't wait!
Until then, I found this video of Gail speaking in London at Westminster. I couldn't stop watching. He is a fantastic orator as well as author.
Wednesday, June 29. 2011
That is why this news saddens me so. A survey done by researchers at the University of Reno have found that Catholics are not listening to their Church when it comes to stem cell research and cloning. From Nevada Today (warning this article says the therapeutic cloning is banned in the U.S. when it is not):
I have no doubt that most Catholics polled had no idea what their Church's teaching is on stem cell research and that the polling questions were written to evoke a particular answer. But the fact that 1 in 5 Catholics would not look to their Church for guidance on such complex issues is heartbreaking. Catholic teaching on issues of biotechnology is consistent, wise and will allow us to control technology instead of it controlling us. Without Church teaching on things like genetic engineering, I fear the human race is doomed to be slaves to the technology it creates. The hard part it getting our fellow Catholics, and the rest of society, to understand the forwarding-thinking wisdom of the Church.
Monday, June 13. 2011
Today in 1926, premier geneticist Jérôme Lejeune was born. Lejeune found the genetic cause of Down Syndrome. He was a ardent Catholic and spent his life trying to protect the many innocent lives with Trisomy 21. He died on April 3, 1994. In honor of Jérôme Lejeune, I am going to repost the story of the day my own father met this great and influential Catholic scientist. The following is my father's recollections of a man who was not only a great man of science, but also a man of great faith:
Conversing with Jérôme Lejeune
Hat tip: The Catholic Laboratory
Monday, November 1. 2010
A few months back I was contact by Alexandra Pajak, a Catholic composer of DNA music, about her album Sounds of HIV. The album is now available on Amazon.com and I highly recommend checking it out and purchasing it as Alexandra is donating some of the proceeds to the Emory University Vaccine Center toward AIDS research.
What is DNA music you say? Alexandra has translated the DNA and protein sequences of HIV into music. Ingenious. Here is how she did it. From the liner notes of her CD:
Monday, June 28. 2010
Yesterday, The Catholic Laboratory pointed out that the new electric car the Chevrolet Volt was named after Catholic scientist Alessandro Volta and the Vauxhall Ampera, is named after André-Marie Ampère.
Check em out and follow them on Twitter!
Monday, March 22. 2010
From New Scientist:
So the universe is a computer, but no scientist can mention the possibility that this computer was designed in anyway because that would be "unscientific." Crazy.
Tuesday, February 2. 2010
I read. A lot. I have been known to average a novel a day. What slows me down is a lack of good books to read. Thank goodness for Dean Koontz who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. His recent works are great. I began with the gruesome but thought provoking The Taking, continued on to the dark, but wholly funny and entertaining, Life Expectancy and then on to the Odd Thomas series. Now I am hooked.
Your Heart Belongs to Me, one of his most recent, captured the creepy love affair with death that is the assisted suicide movement like no other fiction book I have ever read.
Yesterday , I started his Frankenstein trilogy which is about transhumanism, the movement to genetically enhance mankind to be better than human in intelligence, strength or beauty. I will let you know how it is. I was immediately struck by the dedication which had so much truth in it I just had to share it:
The Mr. Lewis is of course C.S. Lewis. I won't try to elaborate on Koontz's dedication because I think it reflects the dangers of turning science into a religion perfectly.
Saturday, January 9. 2010
Being that I just taught the evolution chapter to my home school biology class of Catholic high schoolers and we discussed "young earth creationism", I got a kick out of this from Patrick at the Creative Minority Report:
From the very funny Failblog comes this little diddy. Some kids are going on a field trip the Rocks and Mineral Festival (BYOB by the way). In order to attend the lil tykes need to have a permission slip. This is how one came back.
I am just wondering how well the Bible would serve as a reference for an essay on rock and minerals. Good luck with that.
Tuesday, October 13. 2009
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Francis Collins, the new director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This appointment may raise a few eyebrows because Collins is in favour of using left-over IVF embryos for embryonic stem cell research. Collins also believes that an embryo made by somatic cell nuclear transfer or cloning is fundamentally different from an embryo made from egg and sperm even though animal embryos created with cloning grow into adult animals all the time. Collins argues that because cloned embryos are different, it is morally permissible to create and destroy them for research.
The Catholic Church rejects both of these views. So why would the Pope appoint Collins to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences? Does this foreshadow a change in the Church's teaching on cloning and embryonic stem cell research? Should Catholics be troubled by this appointment?
Absolutely not. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a body that is charged with giving the Vatican the most up to date, most scientifically accurate information regardless of religious (or non-religious) affiliation. It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1936 to promote the sciences and its members are some of the most heavy-hitting, Nobel-prize winning scientists of the 20th century, many of whom probably disagree with the Church on a great many things. From The Pontifical Academy of Sciences: A Historical Profile by Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo:
Francis Collins certainly has the scientific credentials to be appointed to such an academic body. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences focuses on 6 major areas:
Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences include Stephen Hawking, (an agnostic who also supports ESC research), and many Nobel Prize winners including Werner Arber, who discovered restriction endonucleases, David Baltimore, who discovered reverse transcriptase, and and Paul Berg who shared his Nobel with Gilbert and Sanger for work on nucleic acids. You bio-geeks out there know what I am talking about.
The Academy also tackles some of the most difficult scientific and moral discussions we face today. They convene "study weeks" in which they address topics most people would rather run away from. Recently, study weeks have addressed signs of death, evolution, genetic engineering of plants, climate change and the cultural values of science.
Even though Francis Collins differs from Church teaching on sanctity of the beginnings of human life, that certainly does not disqualify him from giving the Church his scientific knowledge on genetics. Benedict has appointed a first-rate geneticist to his heavy hitting Academy of Sciences.
Hat Tip: Reflections of a Paralytic
Tuesday, October 6. 2009
Sometimes scientists make me laugh. I have no problem with evolution as a theory as long as it is not used to "explain" things beyond its scope. The theory of evolution does not negate the possibility that the universe was created by a higher power.
Evolution is often described by scientists as something that has liberated mankind from the tyranny of religion. Imagine my surprise when I found this quote from a synthetic biologist talking about, of all things, the tyranny of evolution. Biopolitical Times has excerpts of an interview with Drew Endy, a Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford, where Endy muses:
So let me get this straight. According to evolutionists, humans are not exceptional. We are just animals that have evolved from other animals. The product of random mutations that occurred over millions of years. Things like social behavior and monogamy and love can all be explained away by evolutionary biology. This liberates us from the tyranny of religion and morals and other non-scientific stuff. Yet, at the same time, we have the potential to guide our own evolution, unlike any other species. At this point, the randomness of evolution itself becomes a tyranny.
Wait. I think I am getting it: Something that stands in the way of science doing whatever it wants, whether that be religion or nature, is a tyranny. Yep. Got it.
Friday, October 2. 2009
Earlier this year the Associated Press reported that Germany is going to pass strict rules on genetic testing. The new regulations state that only doctors can order genetic tests. This basically outlaws any direct-to-consumer or DTC genetic testing. This means that if a person wants to know anything about their genetic make-up, they have to go through a doctor. These regulations also prohibit prenatal tests for anything other than medical reasons. So parents would be barred from using genetic testing to find out the sex of their child or to determine if their child has a genetic predisposition to adult disease.
The reason Germany has put such restrictive laws in place is clear. The specter of the eugenics movement that set the Holocaust in motion is still fresh in the German psyche. They are trying to put the brakes on a new eugenics movement that puts humans, especially the unborn, at risk of being marginalized as "defective" or "undesirable" because their genetics.
It is a noble goal, but the execution is flawed. I agree with Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future. This is a misguided attempt at controlling genetic discrimination. But my reasons are a bit different.
The real problem here is not the really the testing. It is the way the testing is used by a society that does not uphold the sanctity of life. The government is clearly worried about parents using information like sex and genetic predisposition to things like obesity and cancer to abort their children if they are undesirable. They are also concerned with society branding those with genetic predisposition to disease as defective or inferior. But let us look at the real problem: a lack of protection and respect for all human life. If abortion was not legal then these tests wold simply provide information. It is abortion and the subsequent lack of respect for human life that is the evil. Let us put the moral blame where it belongs.
This is similar to an Australian conservative that wants to ban an over the counter, non-invasive test that tells you the sex of your baby as early as 10 weeks:
It is not the test that is "allowing eugenics." It is the practice of abortion for any reason. How about banning abortion instead of an over-the-counter test that does not harm the fetus in any way? The Church is clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with prenatal testing, as long as it is not done with abortion in mind. It is the availability of abortion and the intent to use it that makes any prenatal testing immoral.
In fact, these new German laws will really do nothing to prevent eugenics in the prenatal arena because prenatal genetic testing is still allowed for so-called "medical reasons" like testing for Downs, cystic fibrosis, and spinal muscular atrophy. Parents can find out about and abort for these conditions if they so desire.
Restricting the information you can discover with genetic testing and how you can access it just puts a cartoon band aid on a gapping wound. The problem is a society that does not value and respect all human life whatever the stage.
This is a tough arena for us as Catholics. There are many Catholics who would be happy to shut down any progress in genetics and biotechnology simply because it might be used to marginalize our fellow man. It is true that this may happen, but it is also true that genetics and biotechnology have the potential to help a great many people. Rejecting it all as unethical is the wrong approach. We need to keep putting the blame where it rightfully belongs: a society (and government) that allows abortion-on-demand, a society (and government) that embraces tossing out embryos if they fail the genetic test and a society that thinks that a certain genetic make-up makes some people less desirable than others.
To paint advances in genetics and biotechnology as unethical, even if they are not inherently immoral just because they might be used for ill, will not advance the cause of the sanctity of life. It will only shut us out of the discussions on the ethics of advancements like preimplantation genetic diagnosis and genetic enhancement that are inherently immoral. It will shut us out of places where Catholic wisdom and guidance are sorely needed.
Because we have such a clear and consistent teaching on the sanctity of human life, I contend that it is our duty as Catholics to embrace what is good in genetics and biotechnology for the good of humanity and in doing so make clear where the ethical lines need to be drawn.
Tuesday, September 1. 2009
This morning I got a great e-mail from a reader who was troubled by the fact that this blog is a "Catholic's" guide to biotechnology and not simply a "Christian's" guide to biotechnology. I realized this excellent comment was an opportunity to explain that this is not meant to be exclusionary. I blog for all, from atheists to Baptists, and am often most excited by my non-Catholic readers. That being said, this blog will remain distinctly Catholic. Here is (essentially) my reply as to why:
As I am not nearly as versed in the teachings of other Christian denominations, I would love to know other's thoughts. Let me know what you think.
Wednesday, July 15. 2009
This week President Obama announced Francis Collins as his pick for the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH.) First, why is the NIH so important? The NIH is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. When President Obama lifted funding restrictions on the funding of embryonic stem cell research he left it up to the NIH to decide which embryonic stem cells will qualify for federal funding and which ones will not. (Read about the NIH guidelines here.) So it is the NIH that gives researchers our tax dollars. If a scientist wants federal money to conduct research, they apply for an NIH grant.
So how do I feel about Francis Collins as director of the NIH? There are pros and cons. The pros are that Francis Collins is an accomplished scientist who knows how government works. He is also a man of great faith. He wrote The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief where he puts his faith on public display. This is good for openly religious scientists. Collins will not discriminate against another scientist simply because of their faith and in a time where science it pitted against religion more and more, (and the religious are ridiculed as "goofballs" by some scientists) this is a good thing.
Also, Collins' faith tells me that he values the contribution of religion to bioethical issues. Science needs moral guidance from other disciplines like religion and the law because it has no internal moral compass. Science cannot stand alone without any moral oversight. A big plus is that Collins believes that a human embryo has moral worth. He believes in the sanctity of human life. This is important because many scientists just see a human embryo as no more than just a clump of cells and therefore available to be manipulated and destroyed.
That being said, Collins major minus is that he seems to believe that the moral worth left-over IVF embryos maybe outweighed by the potential benefit of using those left-over embryos for research. He states in an interview:
The Catholic Church rejects this argument. It is not morally permissible to intentionally end an innocent human no matter how well intentioned the goal. At least, Collins sees there are moral issues with destroying embryos for research. Obama could have appointed someone who had no moral reservations.
I believe Collins draws the line at creating embryos with egg and sperm just for research purposes. This is good. A definite pro. But there is a disconnect in Collins views on cloning embryos for research. He believes there is fundamental moral difference between embryos created with egg and sperm and embryos created with somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) better known as cloning. According this critique, Collins wrote appendix in his book called "Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer is Fundamentally Different," he wrote:
According to this, Collins believes that embryos created by cloning do not share the moral worth of embryos created with egg and sperm. This suggests that he thinks cloning embryos for research is morally permissible.
But there is no fundamental difference between a human embryo created with egg and sperm and a human embryo created with SCNT. Both are full members of the human species. In fact, a cloned embryo is an "exact" copy of another human organism which proves it is a human organism itself. Dolly the sheep was created by SCNT. She was no less a sheep than the other sheep on her farm. In fact, she was a genetic twin of the animal from which her DNA was taken. This aspect of Collins philosophy is disturbing. Maybe he will have an epiphany and see the error in his thinking.
Overall, I think Collins is a good choice for NIH director. While he has some definite cons, the fact that he acknowledges the sanctity of human life is important. That is a huge pro and should be celebrated.
Hat Tip: Her.meneutics
Sunday, June 21. 2009
As a tribute to my father on Father's Day, I am revisiting his conversation with Jerome Lejeune, the French geneticist that discovered trisomy 21, the genetic cause of Down Syndrome. Dr. Lejeune was not just a great scientist, he was a Catholic.
To say that Lejeune is an inspiration is an understatement. So imagine my surprise when, in a casual conversation with my father, I found out that not only had he met Lejeune, but he had driven Lejeune to a conference and they had shared a very profound and enlightening discussion. The following is my father's recollections of a man who was not only a great man of science, but also a man of great faith:
Conversing with Jérôme Lejeune
Thank-you again Dad for sharing that! My father also sent me the following words of Dr. Lejeune. I post them here so that you can hear his words for yourself:
Excerpts from “When Human Life Begins” (testimony by Dr. Lejeune before a US Senate Judiciary subcommittee [year unknown]):
Wednesday, May 27. 2009
The Scientist reported yesterday that Francis Collins is the favorite of the Obama's picks for the director of the NIH. In case you are unaware of who Francis Collins is, he is the former Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and led the Human Genome Project. He is also an outspoken Christian and has written a book titled, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. He also started the BioLogos Foundation that "promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives." His religion has earned him some serious criticism from other scientists.
I am pleased to see the Collins is seriously being considered. In a time when some believe you are not a real scientist if you believe in God, Collins would be a good choice for director. From the comments on The Scientist Community it is clear that Collins is regarded by many to be a man of integrity that would not allow he particular religious beliefs to interfere with the demands of the position. Here is one comment:
Of course, there are some bloggers who just cannot get over the fact that Collins believes in God:
(Because everyone knows that it is a scientific fact that anyone who believes in God is a goofball, and that immediately disqualifies you for any management position in the science arena no matter what your previous achievements.)
One blogger cannot get past his visceral hatred:
Personally, I believe that if Collins is appointed head of the NIH every scientist, especially those who are religious, can breath a sigh of relief that come grant time they will be judged on their work, and not how they spend their Sundays. If an atheist was appointed (especially one that would satisfy those who despise Collins so much,) I am not sure that same could be said.
Tuesday, February 10. 2009
From the Italian News service:
This should be very interesting. Especially since many Christians believe as I do that faith and evolution are not mutually exclusive:
Friday, June 13. 2008
The US Catholic Conference of Bishops have overwhelmingly agreed to issue a statement calling the destruction of human embryos for research immoral. The vote in Florida was 191 to 1. (I wanna know who was the hold out. Probably my bishop.) Click here to read the whole statement. Obviously, the argument rests on the fact that human embryos are human organisms and they therefore have inherent worth. Here is the revelant passage on the basic biology of the human embryo:
Human embryos are human life. Time to get over that argument and get to the real reason we disagree on embryo destruction. Does this human life have any worth? Here is what the Bishops say:
"Only privileges for the strong." That means if we do not uphold the worth and inherent dignity of the human embryo, when we become weak and voiceless, dependent on others, in need of protection, we can forget it. It won't be there for us.
Monday, August 13. 2007
I have become a popular booking for churches in my area. One church has had me speak 4 times this last year. This is not because I am the greatest speaker in the area. It is because the congregation is hungry for answers.
I have realized that there is a need; a great need for guidance from the clergy on issues of biotechnology and yet they are often silent or have nothing of real substance to say. I understand why. This is a huge and confusing field. But, your congregations need you to get educated and give them some guidance.
Case in point is this article from New Zealand about a new Anglican dean who basically has no real guidance to offer. Here are some excerpts with some harsh commentary:
I am sorry Mr. Bay, I cannot see how curing Down syndrome with gene therapy and aborting a fetus with spina bifida are even close to morally equivalent. One is about healing a person with a disability, the other is about getting rid of a person with a disability.
There is more. When asked about where the line should be drawn regarding eugenic abortion, he has this to say:
If you are going to say that it is okay to abort certain children and not others, you dang well better know where you want to draw the line. If you don't know the "answer", find it because your congregations needs straight answers.
Unfortunately, Bay and the Anglican church are not willing to give them:
Mr. Bay, you are a leader in your church, not these couples' best friend. You can tell them about the church's stance on the sanctity of life without "condemning them." Ultimately it is their decision, but they came to you for advice, give them some!
So here is my plea to clergy everywhere. Get educated on issues of reproductive technologies, genetics, genetic engineering and biotechnology and help your flock deal with these very pressing issues. If you feel you cannot speak on such issues, find someone who can and then attend the talk. Most priests do not attend my talks. Not surprisingly, the much needed information I have to give never makes it to the pulpit.
Tuesday, May 15. 2007
Et-tu Jen? has a great post on whether or not spiritual attacks are real or imaginary. I have heavily debated whether to discuss this topic here because it is very personal. But I think someone may find my experience interesting
Being science-minded I was never one for the idea that there were such things as spiritual attacks. I thought they were probably real, but really had no strong opinion either way.
If you would have told me 3 years ago that I would be a firm believer in spiritual warfare, I would have told you that you were crazy. But times have changed.
Ever since I started www.MaryMeetsDolly.com and this blog and especially since I have begun speaking about stem cell research and cloning, I have felt under attack.
Many, many things in my life that were previously fine, would fall apart right after I gave a great talk or had a story about me published in a local paper. My job that I normally enjoyed somedays became so unbearable with interpersonal problems that I have almost quit several times.
But I think the thing I find most disturbing is that I normally look forward to public speaking and really enjoyed my presentations. I have now become so anxious before I am scheduled to speak, I often have to talk myself out of turning the car around and going home. Minutes before one talk at a youth conference, I started to cry and nearly left the building. I cannot tell you how uncharacteristic that is for me.
I have a friend who is much more in the public eye on these matters than I am and I recently discussed my feelings with him. He immediately recognized what was surrounding me. Spiritual warfare. He told me if I was going to go out and speak the unpopular Truth, then I better put on my spiritual armor. Before his entrance into the life issues arena, his was not a strong believer. Now he never leaves home without his icons.
And now I never go to work or to a speaking engagement without prayer. So, I guess I am asking those who know of what it is I speak, to pray for me. I need all the protection I can get.
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My ears are burning...
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"She knows her stuff..." -- Spinal Confusion
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