How we view the fetus

Recent release of video footage showing Planned Parenthood official Deborah Nucatola describing collection and costs of fetal tissue has attracted attention and controversy.  With this controversy playing out in background, the Wall Street Journal published a new report on the overuse of ultrasounds. The Journal article argues that low-risk pregnancies do not need the average [Read More...]

Road Trip, with Manasseh Cutler

sign of cutler

‘Tis the season for the road trip, not just for getting from point A to B, but for attending to history and geography along the way.  On the Old Bay Road going toward Ipswich, Massachusetts, now 1A North of Boston, a roadside marker identifies the site where the first covered wagon set off from Massachusetts [Read More...]

Gaudium et Spes for Mother’s Day

Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) was one of the remarkable documents of the Second Vatican Council, whose closing fifty years ago we currently commemorate. Perhaps an unexpected source for Mother’s Day tidings, this Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965) gives winsome, concise statement of Catholic teaching on the family.  For [Read More...]

Not an execution, but an execution sermon

Last week Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on thirty counts.   Jurors—and everyone else in and around Boston—now contemplate sentencing. Discussions about the death penalty have a strange ring in Massachusetts, a state that renounced it in 1984 and had its last execution 1947.   Residents debate capital punishment for the Boston Marathon bomber, with the Boston [Read More...]

Is This the Kind of Lent I Desire? The Fast and the Cleanse

fish pic

  When Lent begins early, as it did this year, calls to prayer and fasting come right up against the New Year’s barrage of juice-cleanse ads promising atonement for holiday indulgence. From pulpits and religion blogs Lent brings annual reminders that “it’s not about” giving up chocolate or beer. Just skipping chocolate for six weeks [Read More...]

How to live in terrible times

The news is terrible lately. Maybe news always is bad. Many eras bristle with horror, and knowing some history gives us perspective. But it seems so bad now, Christians beheaded in Libya and more fleeing to Egypt, Christians kidnapped in Syria, ancient artifacts smashed in Iraq, jihadis uncovered in Brooklyn. What can hinder comprehension of [Read More...]

Asexual Reproduction?

Carl Djerassi, the chemist and writer who died last week, was among the few men with claim to the title “father of the Pill.”  Djerassi imagined how contraception and IVF could work together to change the world even more.  His September 2014  essay in the New York Review of Books anticipated “The Divorce of Coitus [Read More...]

New Year, Old You

Many of us already have bound ourselves to resolutions this year.  After fitness the most popular ones include resolutions to learn something. Pick up a new language, Rosetta Stone ads implore.  The Teaching Company touts Latin 101 as its top-rated course. Resolutions to better the body may have obvious appeal (or not: this husk is [Read More...]

Working Women and the “Exalted Work of Creation”

This week the Supreme Court heard a case, Young v. United Parcel Service, weighing treatment of a female UPS driver, Peggy Young, denied a shift to light duty when expecting a baby.  Putatively at issue are discrimination and prospects of regulation for “pregnant workers.”  As a report from the National Women’s Law Center argues, “It [Read More...]

Why does it hurt so much to live?

The answer is carbon.         Pain is unavoidably part of the package of carbon-based life, explained Denis Alexander this week in his Herrmann Lectures at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. Alexander, biochemist and emeritus director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge, took on the rather large question, “Is Life [Read More...]


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