Personhood, Women’s Roles and Herbal Infusions

Most evenings I spend some time reading. Here are a few of the books I am enjoying.

A friend of mine loaned me the book, Love Thy Body, by Nancy Pearcey. Ms. Pearcey addresses many of the controversial issues in our culture. 

She begins by discussing personhood. Some view human beings as simply biological organisms until they display cognitive function which then allows them to be recognized as a person. The assumption is that body and soul are separate. The biblical perspective is that when human life begins it is body and soul united.

I am reading a chapter at a time and learning about some of the events in science history. Sometimes a couple sentences will cause me to pause. After referring to the theory proposed by Darwin (all life occurs in an evolving chain) she considers the impact that Darwin had on science. No special status is assigned to being human—because there is no human species. As a result, “life becomes a set of parts, commodities that can be shifted around” to suit some geneticists’ vision of progress. The floodgates have been flung open for unfettered refashioning of human nature itself. (p. 100)

Thoughts and questions came to mind. As we learn more about the human body are we attempting to redesign what God has created? When do the advances in medicine support health, and when does scientific experimentation cross moral and ethical boundaries? In our desire for control what are we overlooking? What are the longterm consequences?

Today I read a well researched article. I was startled to learn that the use of aborted fetal tissue for research began in the early 1900’s. The article notes research that took place after forced abortions that were allowed under the Eugenic Sterilization Act. Here is a portion of the article (to read more click on the quote):

In just one such research paper, Drs. Thicke, Duncan, Wood and Rhodes graphically describe their work: “Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained from the gynaecological department of the Toronto General Hospital. They were placed in a sterile container and promptly transported to the virus laboratory of the adjacent Hospital for Sick Children. No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.” (15)

At the same time I am reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book from our local library. Elizabeth lived in the 19th century and wrote about women’s roles and their relationship to men in the social strata of the time. Her observation of human nature, description of the industrial age and society norms is fascinating. It is also a well-crafted story.

My daughter gave me Healing Herbal Infusions by Colleen Codekas. It is fun to browse through the pictures and recipes in this book. 

I love the springtime when I am adding herbs to my garden. Recipes throughout the book include a variety of herbs. The chapter titles are enticing: Infusions to Boost Your Immunity, Infusions to Relieve What Ails You, Infusions to Nourish Your Skin, Lips and Hair. I will try some of the recipes.

This post is joining the link-up at Literacy Musing Mondays.

The Promise of a Seed

In January and February I receive seed catalogues in the mail. I page through them, planning what I will plant in the spring, and I send in my order (or place it on-line).

When the seed packets arrive they hold the promise of plants—herbs, flowers and vegetables. It is my pleasure to start some of the plants inside, watching for them to sprout. Each seed will sprout according to its kind, just the way it is recorded in the Bible.

Rouge Vif D’etampes Pumpkin and Inca Jewels Tomato

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. Genesis 1:11 KJV

The word, seed, appears in the Bible a great number of times referring to descendants. When Mary sings the magnificat she alludes to the descendants of Abraham.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. Luke 1: 54-55 KJV

In the Hebrews chapter on faith, Sara’s pregnancy is mentioned.

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11: 11 KJV

There is joy and blessing in fertility and fruitfulness.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PROMISE

Practice Makes the Perfect Pie Crust

Meals and special desserts are a part of family life. In our home we enjoy pies, especially fruit pies. I have practiced and tweaked my recipe for pie crust until I was satisfied. The shortening in pie crust should be 1/3 the amount of flour. (I don’t remember where I learned that.) 

So when I am making a two crust pie I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1 + 1/2 cup of flour. Then I cut in 1/2 cup of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. A little bit of vinegar acts as a conditioner to the pastry dough, so I add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup of cold water. As I add the water slowly to the flour, I am mixing it in with a fork. It is important to add just enough water—might not need the full 1/2 cup— mix only enough to have the dough hold together.

Then roll out half the dough on a lightly floured board to line the pie plate. Roll out the remainder for the upper crust. My mother would always fold the this top piece in half twice (so it resembles a triangle) and then make decorative cuts in the dough before laying it in place. And so I do too.

Once the pie is ready for the oven I brush the surface of pie crust with a few drops of water and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over it.

You can find a recipe for a blueberry/black raspberry pie here.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: PRACTICE

Women & Children at Botanica

When we visited Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, I especially enjoyed the focus on women and children. There is a children’s garden area where they can water plants. The children can walk through monster trees and climb the stairs to a fairy house.

The peonies, roses, irises and clematis were in bloom.

Peonies at Botanica

Throughout the gardens sculptures of women graced the landscape.

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing

Learning from History

Recently I read the novel, Saving Amelie, by Cathy Gohlke. It is historical fiction set in Nazi Germany. The story involves twin girls who were the subjects of medical experimentation. The story was riveting.

I didn’t know that there actually was a doctor (gynecologist) who was working on a vaccine that could surreptitiously cause infertility. Dr. Carl Clauberg’s goal was to have a vaccine for non-Aryan woman that would be given to them during physical examinations. This morning I read an article on-line (salem-news.com; Nov-07-2011) that referenced him. The article titled “Have the Rabbis Forgotten the Experiments on Jewish Women at Auschwitz?” was written by Rachel Goldstein.

Auschwitz was the largest and one of the most infamous of the camps and the site of numerous ‘medical’ experiments. This historical study uses primary source documents obtained from archives in England and Germany to describe one type of experiment carried out at Auschwitz — the sterilization experiments… “

It is immoral to experiment on human beings. The MMR vaccine may have done some good, but it can also be considered an experiment on children. I recently read through the documentation of the licensing of this vaccine. It amazed me that the vaccine was approved. A summary of the document can be read here.

It troubles me to know about all the experimentation on aborted fetuses that led to the development of the rubella portion of the MMR. I wrote about the research on a previous blog

Because children are now receiving so many vaccines and medications for chronic illness it is hard to isolate the cause of autism. A research study describes the possible association between vaccines and autism.

The reason for the rapid rise of autism in the United States that began in the 1990s is a mystery. Although individuals probably have a genetic predisposition to develop autism, researchers suspect that one or more environmental triggers are also needed. One of those triggers might be the battery of vaccinations that young children receive. . . . The higher the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations, the higher was the prevalence of AUT [autism] or SLI [speech and language impairment]. A 1% increase in vaccination was associated with an additional 680 children having AUT or SLI. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 2011;74(14) 903-16  You can access the abstract here.

With have lessons from history. At this time, when there is great concern about measles cases, we have the opportunity to learn about the issue and ask that the vaccines children receive are given greater scrutiny. We can ask that the vaccine schedule be reviewed for safety and effectiveness. I am learning ways to reach out to my legislators with questions and research articles.

This post took me longer than 5 minutes, but it is related to the readings I have done this week. I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community with todays prompt: OPPORTUNITY