Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blessed Memorial Day

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today's Chuckle

Monday, May 24, 2010

When is Eugenics not Eugenics?

eugenics |yoōˈjeniks| - plural noun [treated as sing. ]
The science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.
Ignoring the fact that the above definition is quite biased, let's talk about eugenics.

I was listening to a podcast today about the ethics of IVF, and one of the things brought up was how IVF was inherently used for eugenics. Several embryos are created and at some point they are scanned for genetic defects. Only the "healthy" (where healthy means it passes the requirements of both doctor and parents) embryo is allowed to survive - the rest are killed.

Of course this is tragic. But what if science advanced to the point where a cell's DNA could be examined without destroying the cell? One could then take genetically scan egg and sperm cells, and only combine the ones with the desired traits (or lack of "defects"). Still eugenics, but without the moral problem of killing human beings. Is it immoral to choose which of your sperm and egg are used to create a child?

How about the case where two people choose to have children with each other (or not) based on having the desired traits (or "defects"). Technically you are choosing sperm and egg, just allowing a larger amount of variance. Still eugenics? Still immoral?

How about choosing a mate with white skin, brown hair and good teeth, because youwant children with those characteristics. Still eugenics? Still immoral?

Where do you think the "line" is, and why?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Reflections on Mary

Several of my friends on plurk have decided to write about Mary in this, the month of Mary. Some of them have already written some interesting blog posts about her. I will link to them below, as I find them. So far I have

Cuaguy Reflects on Mary
Snupnjake's Reflections on Mary
Pennyante's Our Lady of Grace
Andychrism's There's just something about Mary...
Joy's Mary’s Virginity during Childbirth is a Type of the Church

I decided I wanted to "join the club" as well, but I have a problem. I don't have a degree in theology or any deep religious insights. I'm not well versed in the scripture or theology of Mariology. I don't have the close personal relationship with Our Blessed Mother, nor am I a clever writer, who can make an interesting post out of anything. So what can I possibly say?

Mary was big with the women of my family. Almost every woman had Mary as a first or middle name. The Memorare would fly from my mother's lips at the slightest provocation. And yet I have never been comfortable with Mary. As a boy, especially one named Michael, I was too "manly" to think about the "sissy" side of religion. Beating the crap out of the devil was more to my liking. As I got a little older, the whole "virgin" thing put me off. It all sounded kind of dirty, obsessing over a saint's sex life (or absence thereof). Not something I felt comfortable talking about. Why should that be dogma? Why should it even matter? Would Jesus have been less of a savior if He had no been born of a virgin? If he had brothers and sisters?

As I reached "manhood" I found I had developed an almost protestant view of Mary. Not to the point where I would eschew the "Hail Mary" (after all, it's just quoting scripture and asking her to pray for us) but to the point where I was uncomfortable with the whole "Queen of Heaven" thing (after all, it's not in the bible) and some of the Marian devotions and apparitions just seemed weird.

I don't know if my aversion to thing Marian was one of the symptoms or causes, but I was a "bad" Catholic in a lot of ways during that time. Certainly I had a bad attitude towards women. Perhaps it is fitting then that my long (and ongoing) journey back to the faith began with my friendship with a woman named LaSalette. Even then, it would take another 15 years or so before I revisited my relationship with Mary.

Despite having Catholic parents, and twelve years of Catholic schooling, I was woefully uncatechized, but by this point in my life I had found out how to look things up for myself. I learned about Mary's foreshadowing in the Old Testament, and how the bible actually does indicate that she remained a virgin. I learned that things I thought didn't matter mattered a great deal. I learned that there's more to Mary than just the names "LaSalette", "Guadalupe" and "Fatima" (who, it turns out, is the patron of my state). I learned that my prejudices were just that, prejudices, and that there were answers to them - answers that made sense. Most of all I prayed.

I'm still praying, and I'm still learning. So I guess I'm still on "the road to Mary", but at least I found the road.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.