Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

The Morality of “Bodies Revealed”

March 7, 2013

Bodies Revealed is an educational exhibit that is traveling around the United States.   It is a unique display of human bodies in various stages of, I suppose you could say, dissection.  The bodies of people who had donated their remains to science have been disassembled to various degrees, preserved so that they will not decompose or smell, and then posed in various positions.  Some body organs are available for people to handle, so that we can literally hold another person’s heart in our hands.  It is claimed that it demonstrates the workings of the human body in a powerful and unique way.  The hope is that it will inspire a new generation of doctors, scientists, etc.

They are obeying the letter of the law.  The bodies were donated for educational purposes.  The end result may be positive in that it may result in people pursuing careers in the medical field.  It is possible that the driving forces behind the exhibit really do have motives that are more honorable than simply making money.

Even so, it just seems wrong to me.  I recognize that I am primarily relying on an intuition that other people may not share, and so there may not be many who agree that it is wrong.  It is not possible to argue from intuition, all we can really do is see how many other people share our opinion.  We can also challenge some of the claims that provide moral support for the exhibit.

I do not have a problem with the use of human bodies for medical education and research.  However, the  vast majority of people who will be viewing this exhibit will not be  pursuing anything other than a morbid curiosity to see real human bodies.

Yes, people donated their bodies to science, without many restrictions.  I wonder if they would have donated their bodies if they were made aware previously that they would basically become preserved and publicly displayed?  In some regards, they are the subjects of human taxidermy.

Although some will be inspired to pursue medical careers, will some merely have their imaginations further excited?  In a time when we regularly see human bodies in all states of decomposition regularly displayed on our television sets, are there some people who want to see the real thing?  Will this lead some down the right path of medical research?  Will it lead some down a more sinister path?  What will be the true lasting consequences of this morbid display of human remains?

The exhibit has done very well at the places where is has been on display.  I suspect that revenue is up.  That is not a bad thing, our museums do need to meet their operational budgets.  It does make me wonder whether the motivation behind the exhibit is indeed, public education, or does it simply come down to profitability?

Were the scientists/artists who put the exhibit together motivated by a desire to share knowledge, or were they more excited about working with a medium that was taboo throughout most of human history?

As I said earlier, this might all be a perfectly moral enterprise.  I do not know any of the people involved.  They might all be wonderful people, working from pure motives.

It just seems wrong to me.

What do you think?

 

 

 

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A Good Superbowl

February 8, 2011

Sunday the Green Bay Packers became Superbowl Champions.  It was a good game.  Despite being down 21-3 in the first half the Steelers never gave up.  They battled back throughout the game so that the game was still in question in the final minutes.   One big play on their last possession and there would have been a different conclusion to the game.  I like games that keep you on the edge of your seat.  It is more fun to watch a close game than a blow-out.

It was a good Superbowl.   I define good by comparison to an ideal.  I think that definition of good can be used for more than football games.  When we say that something is good or even great, it is in comparison to some concept that we have of an ideal object.

If we want to discover the good in humans, it should be in comparison to an ideal person.  Does one exist?  I believe that Jesus was the ideal human.  He is the only one that was, and is, truly perfect.  If we want to compare our lives, we should compare ourselves to him.  We will fall short of course, but Jesus gives us an ideal to serve as a model for our lives.  If we have chosen to follow Christ, let us also seek to imitate him.

Eat, Pray, Love (movie review)

September 7, 2010

The film “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts is not so much a love story as it is a life story.  Roberts plays a writer who takes a year off to get her life in order.

The first four months she spends in Italy, basically eating and spending time with friends.  This time period represents the need to find enjoyment in the simple, material, things in life.  It also points out the need to slow down, and the value of doing nothing. Tasting life, you might say.

The next four months are spent in India learning the value of prayer, meditation and forgiveness.  This time period helps her to connect with the spiritual aspect of life.  Her earlier existence had been without spiritual influence.  There is a brief prayer in the beginning where she states that she had never talked to God before that point, so this is very new, and difficult for her to learn.

The next four months she spends in Bali.  During this period she rediscovers the importance of human relationships, and yes, love.   Also, she is taught the  importance  of balance.  Balancing the various aspects of life is the final lesson.

So “Eat, Pray, Love” is a story about appreciating, practicing, and balancing;  the material, spiritual and relational aspects of life.  In some ways, it teaches some very valid principles.  Unfortunately, these principles are discovered by pursuing non-Christian religious paths.  The movie could easily be used to encourage individuals to find meaning for their lives through various Eastern religions.

The only true and lasting meaning for life is to be found in Jesus Christ who said that “I am the way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6) and “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)

Within Our Limits

August 18, 2010

The other day I was out for another long run.  By long,  I mean ten miles.  After the run I commented to a guy at the gym that I had achieved four out of five objectives.

1.  I survived.  (That is always a good thing!)

2.  I made it back on my own, no one had to come get me.

3.  I ran the entire distance without having to walk.

4.  My time was better than the last time.  (The last time, I had to walk part of the time.)

5.  I did not make the goal of averaging either nine or ten minute miles.

I felt pretty good about the run.

While running I try to pay attention to what my body is telling me.  I really don’t have a death wish and so if I need to slow down, or walk or even quit, I will make adjustments as necessary.

It is important to recognize our physical limitations.

I once read that “the key to accumulating wealth, is to live well within your means”.

I have sought to live within my means for all my life, not because I seek to accumulate wealth, but because I want to avoid financial hardship.  Many of those hardships are caused by poor financial planning or decisions.

It is  important to recognize our financial limitations.

When I was young, I had a tendency to over-commit.  I would stuff my schedule so full of  activities and commitments that I would run myself down and have to quit abruptly.  Over time I have learned how much I can handle.  I still try to do too much, but I have become better at selecting what needs to be done, and have not crashed…yet.

It is important to recognize our limitations of time and energy.

God however, is not limited.

The challenge in doing the work of the ministry is to have the wisdom to recognize when we must stay within our limits, and when it is time to allow God to stretch us, to go beyond ourselves.

If we operate only within our limits then we may not realize the fullness of God’s plans for us.

If we go beyond our limits on our own initiative, and not by the direction of the Holy Spirit, then we, and others with us,  may suffer serious consequences.

May God grant us wisdom to run the course that is set before us, to achieve the full potential of his calling in our lives.

Wrongful Protest

June 28, 2010

I understand the desire to protest.  In fact, I would encourage people who feel strongly about an issue to protest actions that are in conflict with their beliefs.  I very much appreciate the freedom that we have in America to freely voice our opinions.  I do not, however, think that protests should be conducted in a way that is illegal, destructive, or violent.  When protests get out of control, they do more harm than good.  The energy that is wasted could be put to a more productive activity.  The individuals who organize protests should strongly encourage the participants to exercise self-control and to remain with the boundaries of the law.   After all, are they working for a change for the common good, or just the adrenaline rush of a fight?

Lesson From A Broken Fan

June 24, 2010

When we brought the fans out of storage this past spring one of the upright fans had become broken.  It had probably been knocked over at some point and the joint where the motor attached to the post was broken.  We made an attempt at a repair and it worked…sort of.

I purchased some new fans.  It looks like it is going to be a long summer, and we try to use the air conditioning as little as possible because we prefer fresh air.  When I replaced the broken one in the kitchen, I started to bring the broken fan to the basement.  Gloria stopped me and asked me what I was doing.  I replied that I was going to keep the fan for replacement parts.  The motor and switch were still good and one of our other fans might go out.  She informed me that I was not going to keep that broken fan around, waiting for a chance to use it.  We have enough clutter as it is.  She was right.  I threw it away…with a twinge of regret over the waste.

I think that sometimes our lives are over filled with things that might be useful, but are really only adding to the clutter and the mess.  I suspect that less clutter, less stuff, less activities, might just possibly mean more.

What is Normal?

June 2, 2010

Our lives have been pretty busy lately.  Actually, our lives are always very busy because of our involvement in a bivocational ministry.  When I say that our lives are busy, I mean busy in comparison to our normally busy lives.

Things have been so busy that I have begun to wonder when things will get back to normal.  Then I realize that our version of “normal” may not really be what I want to get back.  Maybe what I want, is to be able to have a life that is more like a “normal” life. 

What is normal?

The lives that people lead are all so very different, that how could we honestly, and accurately, define a normal life?

Perhaps what I am looking for is not a normal life, but simply a less busy, less stressful one. 

I may be in the wrong occupation for that to happen.

I guess that I will try to live the life that God has for me.  I will try to make good choices each day, to fulfill my calling, keep my obligations, try to make the best of my situation, to make good use of my time and resources, to live within my means, and enjoy the good that comes my way. 

Is that normal?

React!

May 26, 2010

Sometimes we choose to act.

Sometimes we simply react.

I have found that some of my more regrettable actions have come about, not as a result of a poor choice, but rather as an impulsive action taken without premeditation.  Sometimes, I have immediately recognized my error, but it is too late, the action is done, or the words have been said.

How do you prevent impulsive words or actions?

You can’t…not always.

So instead we  try to train ourselves by repetition to say and do the right thing.  As often as possible, to think before we speak or act.  This will create a habit of doing the right thing and, hopefully, will keep us out of trouble.

In addition, and even more importantly, we can seek to maintain a relationship with God which will allow us to remain filled with the Holy Spirit, so that our reactions are not caused by the “flesh”, but by the Spirit.  If we are Spirit-led, we will do the right thing, even in reaction to unforeseen circumstances.

Choices and Value

May 25, 2010

Most of us have limited resources.  What we choose to do with those resources reflects our values.  How do we spend our time? Our money? Our energy?  Are we investing in things that will ultimately make a difference? Do we think about others? Do we think about the Kingdom of God?  Or is it all about our own enjoyment, comfort, or status; our own lives?

Our choices define us.

Are we making the right ones?

Initiative, Judgement, and Execution

May 5, 2010

Good initiative.

Poor judgement.

That was a critique that was frequently given to individuals during my days in the Marine Corps.  It was meant to applaud the fact that an individual recognized a problem, and tried to fix it.  The problem was that the solution that was attempted, was not a good idea.  The individual lacked good judgement.

Sometimes it was good initiative, good judgement, poor execution.  In this scenario, the problem was recognized, a good plan was established, but something went wrong with the execution of the plan.  Things didn’t go as anticipated.  Sometimes this was avoidable, and sometimes it was something out of anyone’s control.

Of course, sometimes things went well.  Ah, the sweet smell of success.  The problem was recognized, a plan was established and the task was accomplished.  Problem  solved.

This process must start with the recognition of a problem. 

Sometimes that is the hardest part.