The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz

Following my discovery of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas last week which I watched with Joe on Saturday (if you have not seen the film then I recommend this – sad, touching, insightful and incredibly moving!) which stunned us both to silence with the ending I was amazed by this story on the BBC news yesterday. Such extremes in the behaviour of humanity in such juxtaposition leave you speechless but with much to think about.

remembrance

It was Remembrance day today in the UK.

At the cathedral this is a pretty large event with representatives from all the armed forces, the emergency services and civic dignitaries.

As I get older I find this service to be more poingant as I look around the cathedral at the young faces in uniform full of potential and life which also contain a healthy and correct fear of death. These men and women are incredibly brave for, despite the real fear, they go to war. This year in particular the service seemed to be even more emotional.

I pray, as I believe countless others do, that this war in Afghanistan can be brought to some peaceful conclusion very soon so that we may see our young men and women return home to those that love and miss them.

Advent Conspiracy

I don’t usually place You Tube videos on my blog – just because I don’t like how they look – I think they look ugly, but that’s probably my snobbery coming out!

This video is worth watching and has challenged me – should we join The Advent Conspiracy?

I had a little discussion about this after Matins this morning in the cathedral and the main opinion was that we should but then the other view was put across – if we did buy less, would we then be contributing to the down-turn in our manufacturing based economy which would then result in people losing their jobs in the run up to or quite soon after Christmas?

What a dilemma! What should be the correct Christian response here? To buy less and take people out of poverty, or continue as we are and keep people out of poverty? I think I lean strongly to the former – but it is not as clear cut a decision as I immediately thought when I first watched this video last night. Is it even possible to have a definitive Christian response here?

How have we got to the situation where we need to buy crap we don’t need, and know we are buying crap we don’t need or won’t be wanted, to ensure people still have a living? Pretty bizarre!

the need for a father?

I’m quite disturbed by this part of the vote last night in particular as we now seem to have legislation that deliberately plans for no father to be involved in the life of a child.

Technology has meant we can take this step for a while, but this is disturbing as it takes away the right of the child to have a father and sees the right to have a baby as more important.

I am disturbed because of my personal situation. For years I never knew my natural father, but I knew I had a father out there somewhere. As I got older the desire to ‘find my father roots’ became very strong and the finding of that person became quite important. The fact that that father has little to do with me, or doesn’t want much to do with me, is immaterial – its important for me to know who my father is.

Last night MP’s voted and effectively took away any way of meeting that need for some children. I can’t help but wonder what effect this is going to have when children ask the question and they are told that, actually, they have no father.

I think it could be devastating and potentially a lot of children could be at risk of mass identity crisis.

Holocaust Memorial Day


Today is a day for remembrance, reflection and thoughts on action.
The picture is of shoes at Auschwitz. A few years ago I visited the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum and remember being stunned into stillness and moved to tears as I turned a corner and saw a similar scene set up which seemed to bring home just a tiny bit of th reality of the magnitude of what happened.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust have a lot of resources nd info online.

We deserve more!

I received this update from my friend Andrea. The email copied below makes shocking reading. I find it quite hard to believe this is even being contemplated! What is happening is quite sick as well as being unbelievable. It outlines how 2 laws are passing through parliament: one to allow researchers to mix human sperm with animal eggs or animal sperm with human eggs, the other to allow the creation of children as tissue donors for others!

To my mind this seems to be to be heavily crossing ethical boundaries irrespective of religion persuasion. The creation of animal-human hybrids has no purpose and pushes beyond the boundary of what is acceptable. The creation of a life just to supply organs for others totally disregards the dignity of individual human life.

This is worth making a stand on. We need to campaign for the respect and protection of the unique dignity of humanity.

The update from LCF:
On Tuesday 15th January the House of Lords voted against on a ban on the creation of animal-human hybrids for research purposes. A proposed ban on embryo selection for ‘saviour siblings’ was also lost. Further issues, including the child’s need for a father and abortion, are due to be debated and voted upon in the Lords on Monday 21st January. Then the amended Bill will have its 3rd Reading before being sent to the Commons for further debate.

If the Bill is not amended in the Commons it will become law that embryonic stem cell researchers will be allowed to mix animal sperm with human eggs or human sperm with animal eggs, in order to create a hybrid embryo. This embryo can be experimented upon and then must be destroyed within 14 days. The UK is alone amongst Western democracies in allowing such research to take place. This legislation, which holds many other worrying provisions besides hybrids, is attacking the very core of who we are as a society, what we value as human beings, how we view the unique dignity of humanity and the lengths we are prepared to go to in perverting nature for our own selfish and often misguided desires.

If the nation is still capable of being shocked, then this Bill – if its contents were more widely known and understood – would certainly do just that. It is the church’s responsibility to speak up for God’s intention for His creation, and in the absence of a wider understanding of the Bill it falls to the church to speak on behalf the nation, to act as lookouts in the watch tower warning of the approaching dangers. Please continue to pray and tell your friends about this Bill, and read on to find out what further action can be taken…

To read the debate in full, click the link here

Animal Human Hybrid Embryo vote

Lord Alton’s proposed amendment to the Bill that would have banned the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos was defeated in the House of Lords last night by 96 to 268. These hybrid embryos are now referred to in the Bill as ‘human admixed embryos’ due to a Government amendment.

Several peers spoke in favour of a ban, arguing that such research was both unnecessary and crossed an ethical boundary.

Lord Alton stated “As Parliament is dazzled with misleading claims about therapies and cures, there have been none anywhere in the world… If we permit the creation of these predominantly human interspecies embryos and full hybrids, we will be crossing an important ethical line—crossing human and animal. But for what? For the sake of a technology that we know will not be the future.”

Lord Tebbit argued “Once we get into the business of creating entities which are halfway, or somewhere along that spectrum, between animal and human, we have a deep ethical dilemma… I am also worried about the attitude of the scientific community which, while it is always willing to accept that there should be limits placed on it on ethical grounds, always seems to assume that the limits should be somewhere just beyond what is scientifically possible and what it wants to do and those limits keep moving.”

“The matters we are discussing are more of ethics than of technology. Because it is scientifically possible to do something does not mean it should be done. Because it might bring great benefit to particular people does not mean that it should be done. If we accept arguments of that kind, we are essentially accepting the argument that the end justifies the means.”

To view the part of the debate covering hybrid embryos, click here and scroll down to Column 1202, Lord Alton

To see how each Peer voted, click here and scroll down to Division Number 1

BBC news: ‘Embryos challenge fails in Lords

Embryo selection for ‘saviour sibling’ vote

Lady O’Cathain’s amendment to ban embryo selection for saviour siblings was sadly also defeated by a vote of 62 to 180. This practice involves destroying healthy embryos because they do not match the tissue type of an existing sick child in the family, and implanting a matching embryo (if there is one) in order to create a child who can provide healthy spare part tissue for the existing child.

In moving her amendment Lady O’Cathain stated: “First, there is the question of potential harms to the parties involved, most obviously the harm inflicted by the destruction of unsuitable embryos. Secondly, at the very centre of our ethical thought—both religious and secular, deriving from philosophy as well as tradition—lies the principle that one may not degrade an individual human life by treating it as an instrument for the benefit of others rather than as something to be regarded and respected in its own right. If we deviate from that principle, we have no fixed grounds on which to stand in resistance to other claims to create and manipulate human life for various beneficial ends.”

“The designed child, for the duration of its life, will be witness to the intention of the designers and will always be vulnerable, both physically and psychologically, to further demands on its body. To manufacture a person in this way is to offend against the respect that is due to the integrity of that person, no matter how compelling the goal of trying to cure. I am therefore convinced that the right decision has to be total opposition to the deliberate creation of children as tissue donors for others.”

Lord Patten argued that “Children are children and not organ banks”, and Lord Winston warned “There is a real risk that children might be used, and therefore abused, with this technology, so we must consider this very carefully.”

To view the part of the debate covering ‘saviour siblings’, click here and scroll down to Column 1267, Baroness O’Cathain

To see how each Peer voted, click here and scroll down to Division Number 2

Monday, 21st Jan: votes on fathers and abortion

The House of Lords will continue to debate the Bill on Monday 21st January, when they will be voting on the ‘need for a father’ in IVF treatment and an amendment on abortion for disability. Lady Masham, who is disabled herself, laid the abortion amendment.

Currently the law permits abortion up to the point of birth if a child is diagnosed as disabled. This has been the point of some controversy in the past, as it has allowed the late abortion of foetuses for such minor conditions as a cleft palate (Joanna Jepson case). It is also argued by many disability rights groups that the law is discriminatory and eugenicist. Lady Masham’s amendment proposes that abortion on the grounds of disability be repealed and therefore brought into line with the rest of the abortion law. The deadline for all amendments to the Bill is tomorrow and currently Lady Masham’s amendment is the only abortion amendment that has been laid in the House of Lords.

You can still write to the Lords before Monday about fathers and abortion, and encouraging them to attend the votes.

madness

I’m still down after last night’s defeat, but I don’t think it’s all 100% this guys fault.

But … this is mad! I wish I had a job in which I could dismally fail and not reach my target and then be sacked but given £2million compensation. I clearly need to find a job I can’t have any hope of doing successfully and then fail, as everyone knew I would, so I can become a millionaire!

That can’t be right!

6.7 million since 1967

Today is the anniversary of the Abortion Law of 1967.
Since that time there have been 6.7 million abortions.
Now there are 200 000 abortions per year in the UK.
That’s more than 500 lives per day.

Transsexualism

Tonight was the hardest task so far for SEITE training. The first assignment for this module asked for a presentation of an argument for how eschatology or pneumatology contribte significantly toforming Christian understanding on an issue of sexual ethics. For a number of reasons I chose transsexualism and eschatology.

I say this was the hardest as this was quite challenging. The traditional Christian view, supported by O’Donovan seems to be that this is wrong based on physical characteristics, and in this case sexual organs, being God given. The majority argue against acceptance of a transsexual lifestyle as it seperates physical and mental identity in a kind of gnostic way, arguing the God-givenness of sexuality should not be tampered with. The difficulty I have found with this is the question of what is God given, and I have come to the conclusion, at this point in time, that to deny the orientation of the brain as also God given seems to cut off the mind in some way that it is also created by God. In light of this I am led to the conclusion that to accept and allow sexual realignment surgery (SRS), as a means to remove suffering as we look to the coming Kingdom of God, is the ‘Christian’ thing to do.

I ended my presntation with a quote from a Claire Weiner article:’Maybe not God given by birth, but God given by the ability of medical science developed through the God given talents of compassionate human beings’.

I’d appreciate your comments, and if you’d like to read and critique the 1500 word presentation that would be welcome to.

Free Stuff

The Guardian published this great guide yesterday to all kinds of stuff you can get free. Some is blaggy / jokey such as how to get a free upgrade on a flight, but there is a lot of good stuff in here such as forums to recycle and re-use unwanted furniture, listening to free music, house swapping for holidays, festivals, exhibitions etc. etc.
Even better the Guardian has posted the Free Stuff guide on the web. The online version has much more than the paper version with links to free film screenings which I’m tempted by. 2007 is a year when I am going to think more about recycling and buying used rather than new – makes sense for the environment!