“Do you think our country is so innocent?” This was an honest answer from President Trump to Bill O’Reilly’s question on whether or not Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin is a killer (Bill O’Reilly’s exclusive interview with president Trump, February 5, 2017, Fox News).
Many in the U.S. government and in the Congress, including ranking members from the president’s own party, cried “Foul.” It is inconceivable to think that our country,”under God and indivisible with liberty and justice for all” could be linked in the same breath with the brutal acts of such a country!
I, at the first, upon hearing the president’s response, found myself shaking my head in incredulity of such a statement from our 45th president--until I was preparing to go to confession[i].
For Catholic Christians reading this, I do not have to explain what is confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We Catholics go to confession to an ordained Catholic priest (who in the confessional[ii] is in the persona of Jesus Christ). We confess our sins to Jesus through the priest and Jesus absolves our sins through the priest), so that we can be reconciled with God. We tell Jesus that “we are sorry” for the bad things that we have done, and also for what we have failed to do in thought and in action; we promise that with his grace, not to do them again, and to avoid the mere occasion of sin.
To admit our faults to anyone is very difficult. But we all know, and have experienced that an “I am sorry from the heart” means everything. In fact, it is the ONLY TOOL that we have to undo our wrongs to one another and be reconciled with each other. We all have done this. We all have been the supplicant and the receiver of that “I am sorry,” and know the special blessing that comes from those simple three words, “I am sorry,” or if you will, “I apologize.”
Before we go to confession, we have to do an examination of conscience. The examination of the conscience is a process of going back in our minds and acknowledge all the bad and the indifferent things that we have done since our last confession. It is not just an enumeration of past deeds that violate the 10 commandments, but also the small things that have hurt another person as in the Beatitudes (Mat 5:3-10). Few of us can pass a day without violating one or several of these.
Therefore, how can our country be so innocent?
President Donald J. Trump, had it right?
The uproar over the president’s deflection from the accusation of president Putin’s sins to perhaps our own lack of innocence, mirrors what is going on in our country.
Presently, our country’ favorite sport is “the blame game”. Everybody is blaming somebody, someone, or some group for something. The blame game is as old as humanity itself.
Christians are all too familiar with the drama in the Garden of Eden. After God told Adam not to eat the fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, the serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit and after consuming the fruit she gives it to Adam and he likewise consumes the fruit. When God confronts Adam he blames God for putting the woman in the garden, and also blamed Eve for giving him the fruit. Well, Eve blames the serpent, and you know the rest of the story (Gn 3:9-24).
No one is taking the time to examine his/her conscience and taking responsibility for one’s actions. Everyone else is guilty but me, type of thing. We can see clearly the splinter in our brother’s eye, but not the wooden beam in our own eye (Mat 7:3-5).
I have the quote below taped on a wall in my office for many years. It is not from my faith tradition, but it always reminds me that the way I live affects others. My lack of charity, faith and hope affects others.
“As in the microcosm, so in the macrocosm
As in the atoms, so in the universe
As in the human body, so in the cosmic body
As in the human mind, so in the cosmic mind.” [iii]
And so I add,
As in each citizen, so in the country
Perhaps our president has felt the conscience of our country, and like each one of us, finding it not so innocent.
I declare, as Lent approaches (March 1), for all of us to examine our own consciences, confess and ask forgiveness from God (in our own individual faith traditions) and from one another, and perhaps only then, we will find that we can come together in peace and love.
“I am sorry.” “I apologize.” “Forgive me.” These are the words to live by.
“It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
[i]Matthew 18:18 “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The Council of Trent defined that his power to forgive sins is exercised in the sacrament of penance. Mt 16, 19 and 18, 18.
Article 10. #976, page 254. The Catechism for the Catholic Church “I Believe in the forgiveness of sins”
[ii] An enclosed stall in a church divided by a screen or curtain where a priest sits to hear people confess their sins.
[iii] D. Chopra, Ageless Body and Timeless Mind.
Human-Animal Chimeras Research
All in the name of improving human life or is it?
The first week of September, 2016, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is receiving public input on the question of whether or not the 10 year moratorium on human-animal chimera research should be lifted. In other words, should America’s premier research institution, funded by American taxpayers, fund research that would allow mingling of animal cells and human cells in an effort to create options that would theoretically prolong and enhance the quality of human life?
The word "Chimera" comes from Greek Mythology of monstrous beings made up of incongruous parts, in this case a being made up of part human and part animal. In Greek Mythology a chimera is a fire-breathing she-monster having a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail. Are we trying to realize the dreams of the ancient Greeks in our laboratories?
“Of course not,” the scientists involved would say, “we are working to improve human life.”
Indeed, it is the duty of all scientists to study and discover how “nature” works and use it to benefit human race. The breakthroughs in all scientific fields in the past century have been phenomenal. The human race has never achieved our current state of “wealth.” Wealth meaning in the plethora of knowledge, from devising machines that scan the heavens and transport us from one corner of the world to the next in hours, to those that facilitate our communication, delight our palates and fill our bellies with exotic foods, house us in palaces not even dreamt by kings. We conquered many diseases, able to prolong life by transplanting human organs from one to another and the list is almost infinite.
Human knowledge to elevate human beings and other creatures that have been gifted to us for our use and for our pleasures, and I might add for the glory of God who created us.
“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb” Psalm 139:13-16
“I am your creator. You were in my care even before you were born.” Isaiah 44:2
Scientists are curious about how all things work. I am a scientist and I get it. But, we often forget that “finding something” is not the same thing as “creating something.” We create NOTHING. All that is, is already created. What we do is understand how it works, and we manipulate it according to our own designs to benefit humans, and all created things.
What is changed is our culture. Our culture has changed where we, more and more, devalue who we are as human beings. We have an animal nature, but we were created “a little less than a god” says a psalmist, and we have a spirit nature. We have a conscience (with science), a free will all characteristics that other creatures, not even the most advanced animals have. For this reason, animals cannot make any “moral” judgments or commit “sin.”
Acts that “devaluate” human beings have been committed throughout human history. Most often have been the innocent and the powerless who have paid with their lives to protect society’s indiscretions and moral failures. Babies have been ripped out of women’s wombs and buried in unmarked craves or thrown in the trash for centuries. But, throughout history, society knew that this was wrong and prohibited it.
NOW, society has decided that these babies are not really “humans yet.” How did we as a society come to that “knowledge” to that “conclusion”? This is an ABRACADABRA decision. IF we don’t see it, and especially if the woman’s body is not showing, it does not exist. BUT as with science—there comes the ultrasound machine—now we can see the little baby developing, sucking thumb and heart beating. WE close our eyes, Planned Parenthood (and other such institutions) continues in the name of providing “Women Health Care, and Reproductive Health Care”. We are in the age of “spin.” Reproductive health care means pregnancy termination, aka, abortion/killing of human babies.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. Jeremiah, 1: 5
To continue with the argument, IF babies in the womb are not human beings than we can harvest their parts, sell it to the scientists who will make their cells into something. But what? Oh yes, body parts to provide for transplant OR create a new being, part human and part animal—a chimera.
The controversy over stem cell research has been boiling up for years. This is the very basic on a very complicated issue. There are two kinds of cells involved, embryonic and the somatic.
Two types of embryonic cells: 1) are the stem cells taken from the embryos conceived through In vitro fertilization (in a petri dish). The cells divide and it is call a blastocyte. These cells become the stem cell lines which when put into humans to grow new and healthy tissue. 2) The second type of embryonic stem cells is the embryonic germ stem cells. These are retrieved from the reproductive organs of aborted fetuses. . Both of these types of embryonic cells can become 220 total cell/tissue types and becomes what is known as the stem cell lines.
Somatic cells: These are adult stem cells taken from an adult. Umbilical cords, placentas, and amniotic fluid. Also can be retrieved from bone marrow, hipbone, liposuction, nasal epithelium and from cadavers. Adult stem cells cannot become all 220 cell/tissue types.
There have been many difficulties with embryonic stem cell therapy. To date, there has been no success in using embryonic stem cells in curing any disease.
Adult stem cells have met with greater success in curing diseases such as some leukemia, some spinal cord injuries, some Parkinson’s disease and stem cells from marrow of a hipbone is immunological comparable to many people.
The issue with the Human-animal chimera
The Christian world, and especially the Catholic Church, have been opposed to embryonic stem cell research. Central to this opposition is the destruction of human embryos.
There is no moral justification for destroying a human life to save another.
The Church has no objections to somatic stem cell research. But, as we argued before, our modern culture is saying that babies in the womb are not yet human, so it is OK. The secular culture can say what they want to push forward its misguided agenda. When a woman becomes pregnant people say, “She is expecting!” What is she expecting a “dog” a “cat” or a mouse, the favorite laboratory recipient of human cells. In the 1960’s and 1970’s psychologists were telling us to sing to our babies in the womb, talk to them, caress them. What are the psychologist saying to us now?
Not only the secular culture is telling us that our babies in the womb are not yet human, but now they are telling us that the baby does not yet have a “soul.” For Christians this should be no brainer. We have Jesus, Our Lord, who chose to come to this world, to enter the world of time, through the womb of a woman.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus.
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man? And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.
Luke 1:31, 34-35,38
At the very moment that Mary said yes, the process of creating the person of Jesus Christ began immediately, just like it happens when a human male sperm impregnates a human female egg whether it is in the woman’s womb or in a petri dish.
When did Jesus growing in her mother’s womb receive his soul?
When did Jesus growing in his mother’s womb receive his spirit, the spirit of his Father?
Jesus the Christ, was man and God at the very moment when Mary said YES. And so are we at the moment that a human sperm impregnates a human egg, in the woman’s womb or in the petri dish, we are body and soul.
Animal and Human-Chimera research continues the process of debasing, dehumanizing who we are. All cultures even the most primitive know this in their hearts—the sanctity of human life.
So, much good productive research can continue with somatic cells, but not embryonic human life with a soul.
Because science can and is able to manipulate genetic materials across species does not mean that we should. Once this is done, there can be no control. We can convince ourselves that it will be well controlled and that such experiments may be a bonanza contributing to all kinds of benefits for future human health and well being. NOT SO.
The development of nuclear atomic bomb was developed so that we Americans could end "all wars." It did contribute to an earlier end of WWII, but it has created a much more dangerous world. The "secret" was too good to be kept under wraps, so now many countries have the ability to produce an atomic bomb and many more countries are pursuing it. Similarly, in a recent report about the effects of Global warming on the buried radioactive waste (peer-reviewed study n Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union) from a secret base in Greenland. We thought we could bury it forever, but we did not count on the Global Warming. More recently, Anthrax escaped the “safe” confines of Center for Disease Control (CDC) to pose a new threat to humankind.
We humans, even in 2016, do not have the vision and the wisdom to know what is coming in the future, and the least of all to keep a secret. I am a scientist, and one thing that I know about scientists is that they cannot keep a secret, and neither do governments.
Human-Chimera belongs to the area of robotics, not human cells mingled with animal cells. This is not ethical and it falls into the realm of the diabolical and the American people should not be forced to fund such research through our government research institutions.
NO TO NIH FUNDING FOR HUMAN-CHIMERA RESEARCH
This election year is becoming quite a challenge for us Americans. We are dealing with issues and candidates unlike no other time. The two party system is falling apart. There is no longer The Democratic Party. The two contenders for the president of our country, one is a "Progressive Democrat" and the other is a "Socialist Democrat." Neither fits into the concept of what my Democratic Party was.
When I became of age I registered as a Democrat, and voted for its candidate up to including Bill Clinton's second term. Afterwards things became to change and I could not, in good conscience, vote Democrat. I have always been a moderate to conservative Democrat, but as the Democratic Party moved, in warp speed, to the left, it left me behind in the camp of the Republicans.
Several months ago there was an opinion piece published in the major newspaper of my region entitled, "Jesus wouldn't recognize this kind of Christian" It was by, what I judged as, a disgruntled politician who lost an election and was blaming the Christian Democrats for voting Republican. He was addressing people like me, Christian Democrats, who are now voting Republican.
Every election, I find myself between a rock and a hard place. As a Roman Catholic, I am very liberal in social and economic issues, and conservative in other issues which (the author of that article) would consider moral and/or religious in nature. Therefore, I believe that he was speaking to voters like me.
To clarify the politician's point, there is no such thing as a Christian right or a Christian left. These are political terms barely reflecting what Christianity is all about. Rush Limbaugh and Liberty University do not represent all Christendom. In a nutshell, Christianity is the restored relationship between humanity and God; brought about by the incarnation of God through Jesus Christ. The restored relationship is a filial one between God and mankind. To live as God's children, Christians, Jesus showed us a new way to live by how He lived his life and by what He taught.
I used to be so excited to be able to vote, and the Catholic Church teaches that it is our duty to do so. I registered as a Democrat because this was the party that traditionally represented the rights of the economically and socially disenfranchised and was more closely aligned with the teaching of Jesus.
The disgruntled politician is right in point out some of the virtues of the Democratic Party, but do not forget that before governments were in the business of defending the prosecuted, taking care of the uneducated, the poor, the hungry, the sick, the orphaned, and the widowed, it was the Christians--most notably the Catholics--who did so, and are continuing to do so.
The traditional Democratic Party then understood that a human person was much more than individuals to have their physical needs met by the state, but human beings with a soul and spirit who need nourishment, encouragement, and to be accepted and loved from conception to natural death; to be given a "hands-up" and encouraged to be free to exercise their beliefs without penalty.
The disgruntled politician is so right in writhing that, "Something has gotten dangerously switched around, turning up into down and light into darkness" and this in my fear for our beloved Democratic Party. The Party now appears to be in the business of establishing their own "brand" of religion, writing its own book and taking as cover "Christian values" while trying to gag and tie-up the hands of many religious groups from doing their work by forcing laws that make it difficult for them to function with good conscience. As far as being "aligned with the party that serves the mighty powers of Mammon" --think again---the Republicans do not have the exclusive claims on this, and Jesus was very clear on this point (Matthew 6:24).
I cannot agree more that, "It has long seemed to me that the world would be a much better place if people acted according to the spirit Jesus taught." That begs the question, "Who has the authority to discern what the spirit of Jesus's teaching is for our modern world?" The crux of the matter is that we tend to pick and choose what we like about His teachings and turn a blind eye to what we don't like, or what is too hard, or inconvenient.
As to the disgruntled politician's comment that"... if Jesus was in America today, he would not vote Republican," Jesus was a Jew; he had no vote in the Roman dominated world, and he did not mince words about what he thought about some of the Jewish leaders of His time. I would not second guess Him, but look for clues in The Gospels.
It is becoming more and more difficult for me to vote. It is a balancing act. Vote I must, and the bottom line for me is to find the candidate (not the Party) that I find less egregious to my faith conscience.
EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT, EVEN IF IN A GIVEN ELECTION, THE CHOICES ARE DIFFICULT.