Monday, October 10, 2016

Wisdom 13:5 the beauty of created things...

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Proverbs 18:2 A fool...

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Monday, July 11, 2016

5 difficult issues human cloning will cause

What will happen when a significant portion of the human population is the product of cloning? These will be individuals that were created in a laboratory rather than having gone through natural human gestation in the mother's womb. For the purposes of this blog post, cloning represents not only a "duplicate" of an existing person, but any person generated in a laboratory by biological and chemical means. This would even include unique persons generated by more than two parents, as is already a scientific enterprise.

What you will read herein is this author's projection, grounded on the trajectory of current events. And there are certainly more issues at hand than supposed herein. Time may reveal more issues or eliminate the likelihood of others. This thought exercise is intended to shed light on potential consequences, particularly moral, on the matter of human cloning.

1. Are the cloned human?
The cloned may or may not have umbilical cords and will not be the product of man and woman conjugal union. They will not be the direct result of a physical expression of a loving action. An obvious question will be whether or not a person's "humanity" depends on that natural union. I would surmise the Church would consider such person's human, just as those who are born today by means of in vitro fertilization. Even though those born via in vitro are conceived in a manner outside the conjugal act, such persons are still welcomed to baptism, which is only receivable by a human being. Basic clones generated in a lab from a single sperm and egg will be recognized as human just as anyone else.

More complex clones may pose greater problems. Suppose laboratories begin to produce clones who do not need sleep. Or clones with six appendages. Or androgynous clones deliberately generated without genitalia. Or clones with two human parents and one chimpanzee parent. Or further down the road if a being is constructed from a variety of human and mammalian or even reptilian or other foundations. We have seen nascent evidence of animal incorporation in human-animal organ crossovers. As more complex experiments occur, the debate over the humanity of the clone will grow more complex.

For her part, the Church in such cases might at least perform "conditional" baptisms. This would be similar to a conditional baptism bestowed on a person unsure if he/she had previously been baptized. In the case of a clone, the baptism might be administered on the condition that the recipient is indeed a human being.

In civil life, there will be a number of legal cases that will be considered landmarks regarding the human status of the cloned. However, these cases will be difficult precedents if the cloning process continues to evolve and if persons are developed by multiple methods. So, for instance, if a court determined that a five-parent-one-other-mammal person merited full human rights, the precedent might not stand if a future case arose regarding a person generated from seven-human-parents-and-one-reptile.

These speculative examples may be fanciful. But they are designed more to demonstrate the difficulties that will arise the further mankind gets from matrimonial, conjugal offspring. Clones with greater and greater aberrations will suffer tremendous psychological difficulties, wondering what they are, whether they are human. The human DNA written in their fabric will alert them to the abnormalities within themselves. The natural arrangement of mother-father-child will arise as a discovery to the pensive mind of some of these clones, alerting them that something is disordered. This will cause great psychological trauma in some clones and families.

2. Clones will not have parental attachment
Written in the fabric of normative human generation are parents who have a certain attachment to offspring that is "of oneself." Paternal and maternal instincts can be seen in parents' protective tendencies toward their children. In fact, when a parent fails in this obligation, we recognize the violation committed by that parent. Phrases like "dead-beat dad" are evidence that a father has failed in his attachment to his own child.

Let's say an infertile couple in the future goes to a cloning market and selects a "child" to be developed for them. This is different from in vitro in which the father's sperm is united to the mother's egg and the child is developed in the womb. This is a "child" developed wholly in a laboratory according to whatever catalog options are offered by the cloning company. By commodotizing the child, parental attachment will suffer. If the child grows up to have criminal or unsatisfactory tendencies, the "parents" will be more apt to blame the "failure" on the cloning company. It will be easier to dismiss a child as a corporation's failure versus a child raised out of conjugal love, the direct gift of one's conjugal action.

From this, complexities will arise among parents who adopt clones. There will be a market for "returned" clones who did not meet the satisfaction of the adopting parents. Psychological problems will run rampant among clones, particularly among those who are rejected as corporate defects. Their plight could turn very ugly.

3. "Abortions" of clones will find new debate
Abortions of lab-generated clones may occur if the clone is not developing according to the customer's order. There will be debates as to what should happen with cancelled orders. Should the clone be terminated? If so, the same debate we have with abortion today will characterize the termination of developing clones. As speculated in point #1, simpler clones will be considered human. So at what point in the laboratory development period will such a clone be considered human?  Will there be a legal point at which a customer who orders a clone can no longer reject the product produced?

Rejected clones who are not terminated will suffer terrible psychological strains of inadequacy. Mental illness will be an enormous problem in the future, both among clones, and among a society whose expectation of custom-made satisfaction will permeate their everyday attitudes.

Even today, the "my body, my choice" argument is a red herring because it does not take into account the baby, who is essential to the pro-life movement's perspective. But when women order a lab-made child through a catalog, they will not be able to abort the child under the guise of doing what she wants with "her body." With a lab-generated baby, a couple, or an individual "ordering" a clone will have no such so-called right. Their argument will come from commerce and the power of the dollar with which they ordered the clone.

Those who order clones and seek to terminate their order prior to completion may seek refuge, not in "my body, my choice," but "my possession, my choice." It is difficult to determine what kind of traction such a specious argument might boast. But it will nonetheless be a serpentine diversion away from the violation of another being that takes place in an abortion.

For their part, the Church will oppose abortion of the developing clone, even if there is some question as to the humanity of the clone.

Today, some politically correct feminists accuse the Church's pro-life stance of being a means to control women unjustly. In the future, if persons are generated in labs, this argument won't even have specious merit if the Church voices a pro-life stance for the developing laboratory clone.

4. Good "health" will be used as a pro-cloning argument
On the eve of mass-cloning, proponents of the measure will abandon the moral consequences of lab-generated persons in favor of producing persons with good health. Over time, the cloning process will tend toward producing healthier and stronger beings, immune to old diseases. While healthiness on its face is a "good," such proponents will not be able to counter moral arguments against a person's right to be born of conjugal love. And, as supposed in this article, mental unhealthiness will spread. Written in the fiber of human DNA is a person's desire to be loved and raised by his natural parents. We can see evidence of this in the many difficulties that plague children of fatherless homes.

5. More legal problems relating to clones
Presumably, when a couple or person orders a clone from a catalog, the corporation will require legal indemnification once the clone leaves its possession. In other words, the buyer will have to sign a document absolving the company of liability if the clone should not meet expectations once bought or if the clone commits a crime, etc.

However, legal cases will arise in which the customer will accuse the corporation of deception if the clone fails to meet expectations. For example, if a teenage clone commits murder, the buying parents will seek recourse to hold the corporation liable in spite of the indemnifying document signed. The parents' attorneys will argue that the corporation willingly sold a flawed clone to parents who had no way of knowing the clone would have criminal tendencies.

There will also be cases in which the clones themselves will bring lawsuit against their manufacturers. The clones' attorneys will argue that the cloning corporation did not take proper care of the clone during development, which resulted in some health or social defect. These cases will add to the psychological disaster bound to raze at the hearts of clones, and at a society that spars with making sense of their identity as fully human or otherwise.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

4 things to do when suffering

Following are a few suggestions I hope might be helpful to anyone experience suffering life. These are not "solutions" to make suffering go away. Many sufferers have learned there is not a secret formula to make it "stop." Not even prayer. Even in Scripture, Job cried out to God yet still lamented of his "months of emptiness" (Job 7:3), which may have amounted to years. Paul likewise begged for the removal of a thorn (2 Cor. 12:8-9), yet God did not effect Paul's request in the manner Paul requested it. Jesus himself prayed to be spared the cup of blood (Luke 22:42; Matt 26:39), yet he still endured the crucifixion. In this fallen world, we often feel the sting of suffering and of crying out repeatedly for relief.

So the purpose of this post is not to examine the mystery of suffering per se, but things we can do amidst it.

1. Offer your suffering as a gift to God.
Scripture teaches us both that Christ offered himself in suffering and that we suffer with him (e.g. Phil. 3:10, Rom 8:17). Deep down, there is a generosity here bestowed by God, that we might in some sense, by grace, join him in his work. It doesn't matter if we "feel" the value of this, but we are simply called to accept crosses and to share in Christ's suffering. We may never know in this life what God "does" with such gifts from His children. Do not worry about having that answer before being a child offering a father a present.

2. Pray even if your prayers are weak.
Don't worry if your suffering is so dark that you can barely muster a prayer. If you must, simply pray with your action, as in point #1, by accepting a share of the cross. If you've already prayed and prayed and things have never changed, you might find yourself in a dark, frustrated, empty place which razes at your faith and trust. Even if you are in such a condition, perhaps you could still pray something like: Lord, please hear me despite my anger and frustration. Don't let the answer to my prayer depend on the wreck that is my faith, nor the anger and sorrow that spills from my heart. Hear my prayer even if I feel like it is futile.

This can help place the matter more into God's hands than one's own. The petitioner admits his sorrow or anger or exhaustion. This can help the petitioner avoid falling into the deceptive trap of thinking his prayer didn't "work" because he didn't pray "right."

No matter how short or how poor you think the prayer comes out, God can work with it. This is the God who built a church on Peter, who was a flawed man in many ways. This is the God who built a universe literally out of nothing. Even a clumsily crafted prayer could become something great.

3. Recognize in your suffering a glimpse of Christ's suffering.
In today's Gospel for Divine Mercy Sunday, we read in part the story of Thomas who would not believe Christ had risen lest he see Christ's wounds.
John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." 
Doubting St. Thomas by St. Tito (ca 1576-77)
(detail from photograph by Saliko,
acquired from Wikimedia Commons)
After seeing this, Thomas' awareness comes to life. Remember in #1 above how Scripture teaches we suffer with Christ. This is our window to Christ's suffering even when we are weak and faithless. Just like Thomas we desire to see Christ's wounds. Sometimes we are given that glimpse right in our own hearts.  When we suffer, we thus "see" Christ's suffering and garner our limited understanding of what Christ endured. And since Christ was wholly innocent and accepted this suffering, we know that whatever we suffer as sinful beings, Christ suffered infinitely worse as the innocent one. From this, we see the love Christ had for mankind. Although easier said than done,  we can translate this to our own lives. We say to ourselves:
If Christ willed to accept a suffering even worse than what I suffer now, how much must he have loved us. This is an example for me to follow when I do something loving for someone else. Do I hold my tongue against a family member while arguing, even if it is difficult for me to resist? Do I guard my eyes against sinful temptations even if I desire to look? Am I willing to accept something that is painful to me for the sake of doing something loving for another?
4. Recognize the faith underlying your frustration
Perhaps you find yourself vexed and frustrated, even "angry" at God after you've cried out again and again to be heard. Like Israel, you "cry out" (e.g. Ps. 22:2, Hab. 1:2) and wonder "how long" until you are "heard." Although the pain does not subside, part of the reason you are frustrated is because you recognize in God the power to hear you. There is faith in such a lamentation. In such a case, consider a prayer such as this:
God I wouldn't be so frustrated and crying out to You if I didn't think You had the power to help. Hidden in my rage is knowledge of Your power and divinity.
In a way, a prayer such as this can be a prayer of praise. And previously, perhaps you have found it very difficult to make a prayer of praise as you've endured heartbreak and difficulty day after day.

Only in suffering can the pinnacles of human love be realized. Is it easier to love a spouse when things are going well or difficult. Great love rises even in turmoil. All this can be overwhelming. None of the above suggestions may take away the pain we so desire be removed. With Job, Paul, Jesus, and Israel, we cry out for mercy, to be spared the pains, thorns, and cups of sacrifice. Even if we remain in the darkness and pains this fallen world delivers, it is worth looking to Scripture and Christ's love as an example to follow.

Note: The 4th point and other slight changes were made to this post on April 6, 2016.