Moral Opposite Day

October 10, 2010

Do you remember “Opposite Day” from childhood?  “Sure, I’ll give you half my candy bar if you give me your fruit Roll-Up…just kidding: it’s Opposite Day!”

When adults play Opposite Day, the results are far more sinister.  This year the Nobel Prize Committee played Moral Opposite Day by awarding their prize for medicine to Dr. Robert Edwards, the inventor of in vitro fertilization.  A Vatican official quickly condemned the Committee’s actions, and rightly so.

The Church’s objections to in vitro fertilization are perhaps not as well known as they should be:  the procedure turns reproduction into a technical process instead of an act of love and involves the mass-production of embryos, the majority of which will be discarded when they are no longer deemed useful.  Because the procedure’s rate of success is low, a larger number of human embryos are created than what are normally needed, and those that are deemed defective or prove to be “unnecessary” are killed or frozen.

A more thorough and expert discussion of the problems with in vitro fertilization, as well as the morally acceptable alternatives to it, can be found on the USCCB website.  However, even a brief consideration of all that the procedure involves should be sufficient to understand how it results in the reduction of human life to a commodity.  Any time we find ourselves applying the adjective “unnecessary” to a human life, we have already entered a brave new world of moral horror.

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Tangled Up in Blue

January 17, 2010

For starters, the 3-D glasses are really cool, not the flimsy paper and celluloid things of the past. These are fashioned on the perennially chic Ray-Ban Wayfarers. However, the neat glasses certainly are not the main reason to go see Avatar.

Director James Cameron’s groundbreaking use of 3-D technology was enough to get me into the theater, but the breadth of his vision in bringing an alien world to life kept me glued to my seat. Many reviewers have praised Cameron’s latest project, and I don’t intend on repeating those praises here. It was a beautiful and thrilling movie. Read the rest of this entry »

The Soul’s Journey into…New Jersey?

September 8, 2009


With a subtle touch writer/director Sophie Barthes offers a brilliantly conceived film on the relationship between the body and the soul. This nettlesome little issue has a long pedigree, going back to Plato, at least, and probably back much further. What exactly is the soul? What does it do? and does it really exists? These are questions being hashed out among theologians, scientists, and now filmmakers.

In “The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul” (2007), Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary make a strong case for the nonmaterial origin of religious experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Am I? Who are You? Why Does Cilantro Taste Funny?

August 10, 2009


Soul searching, self-evaluation, meditation, and prayer–step aside! I can tell you who you are at the deepest level (and all for about $25). If you appreciate my ability to predict your doom then you might like my ability to explain why you cannot roll your tongue, why cilantro tastes bad in your tacos, or why you seem more likely than others to get angry in the same situation. It’s a treasure map. And I know where it is. And I can get it. And it is in your genes. Read the rest of this entry »

Dorothy Day and Pedro Arrupe, SJ on (Atomic) Transfiguration

August 9, 2009


On this day, Nagasaki was devastated by “fat man” as he fell from the sky and wiped out hundreds of thousands of people.  Just a few days earlier on the feast of the Transfiguration, “little boy” fell on Hiroshima.  These two events, like the transfiguration and the resurrection which it prefigured, can never be lost to history. Like the shadows which they imprinted on Japanese sidewalks through the power of their blast, so they must remain imprinted on our souls as memory of our capacity for evil. Twenty-five years after Hiroshima, Pedro Arrupe, SJ wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Balthasar, Baseball, and the Anima Technica Vacua

August 4, 2009

BratzookaIn the opening pages of the Epilogue to his monumental theological trilogy, Hans Urs von Balthasar considers modern man as an anima technica vacua.  He notes the contemporary desire for the Church to try to meet modern man “where he is,” cites several reports about the excessive television watching of American and European children, and then wonders:

So severe is this situation that most teachers of religion ask, with equal justice, just who these ruins are whom we should try to “meet” (against their will!) “where they are”.  A missionary toiling in the savannas of Africa or on the atolls of the Pacific has it relatively easy: he encounters a perhaps primitive anima naturaliter christiana.  What might come across to the native as pure theological Chinese he can easily translate into the simplest of languages.  But where is the famous “point of contact” with the anima technica vacua?  I for one certainly do not know.  Some table-rapping.  A séance or two, some dabbling in Zen meditation, a smattering of liberation theology: enough (10-11). Read the rest of this entry »