Pepsi rejects testing with fetal cells

We had a post on the report that Pepsi was using a flavor enhancement test that made use of embryonic cells from an aborted fetus. (NOT that they used that ingredient in their products!) In the discussion that ensued, it turned out that although the company Pepsi contracted with to do the testing had some patents using a Human Embryonic Kidney cells for this purpose, it wasn’t clear that these were used in the testing for Pepsi. At any rate, Pepsi has responded to the controversy and boycotts by vowing not to use testing involving fetal cells.  The boycotts have been called off.

A pro-life group called off its yearlong boycott of Pepsi products Monday after the soft-drink giant provided assurances it would no longer use an aborted fetal-cell line to develop flavor enhancers.

Children of God for Life revealed last year that PepsiCo had contracted with Senomyx Inc., a San Diego biotech company that listed HEK-293, a “human embryo kidney” cell line produced from an aborted fetus in the 1970s, in more than 70 patents related to flavor enhancers.

“We are absolutely thrilled with PepsiCo’s decision,” Debi Vinnedge, executive director of Children of God for Life, said on the group’s website. “They have listened to their customers and have made both a wise and profound statement of corporate integrity that deserves the utmost respect, admiration and support of the public.”

In a letter to the group, Paul Boykas, PepsiCo vice president for global public policy, explained the company does no research that uses embryos or fetal cells and that Senomyx will not use the HEK line for Pepsi products.

Senomyx does not use HEK cells or any other tissues or cell lines derived from human embryos or fetuses for research performed on behalf of PepsiCo,” Mr. Boykas said.

Children of God for Life started its boycott effort, which had grown to include more than 30 pro-life organizations worldwide, last May and had engaged in a long back-and-forth with PepsiCo, during which the corporation denied using embryo or fetal tissue in various ways that pro-lifers dismissed as lawyerly spin.

But Mrs. Vinnedge told The Washington Times on Monday that the latest letter seemed evasion-proof.

“When they said they would not use HEK cell lines in their most recent letter – well, that is the hallmark for Senomyx research. So that was majorly different than what they had said in the past,” she explained.

 

 

The defining element in Christian art

Let me propose this thesis, drawing on the recent post about what Bruce Springsteen said about Hank Williams:  All distinctly Christian art must be, in some sense, about the agonizing struggle between sin and grace.

Mere moral lessons, while perhaps commendable, are  not enough to be distinctly Christian, since Mormons, Muslims, and ethical humanists could agree with them.  And mere optimistic positive messages are not enough and may even be harmful, since they can create the illusion that we can achieve righteousness by our own efforts.  Works of meaning and beauty have their own value.  But to be explicitly “Christian,” a work needs to be, directly or indirectly, about sin and grace and what Christ has to do with them.

To test the thesis:  Let’s consider classic Christian works of literature.  The Divine Comedy.  check.  Paradise Lost.  check.  The poems of John Donne and George Herbert.  check.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  check.  Flannery O’Connor.  check.  Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory.  check.

Pro-life dissident’s great escape

Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese lawyer who has been battling China’s forced abortion policy.  For his efforts, he has been in and out of prison since 2005.  After his last release in 2010, Mr. Chen has been under house arrest even though he has not been charged with a crime.  That means that his home is surrounded by armed plain-clothed guards who prevent him and his wife from leaving and from receiving any visitors.

Last week Mr. Chen somehow escaped and made his way 300 miles to Beijing.  Oh, yes.  Mr. Chen is  totally blind.

He has reportedly taken refuge in the U. S. Embassy.  American diplomats are saying that this comes at the worse possible time because Secretary of State Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner are coming to Beijing this week for high-level talks and they fear the incident may harm  relations between the two countries.

via Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese lawyer-activist, escapes house arrest – The Washington Post.

So why are we worried about how this makes China feel?  Shouldn’t China be embarrassed, at the very least, about its brutal treatment of Mr. Chen and, much more importantly, the untold numbers of women whom it forces to get abortions after they have the allotted one child?

What grates about the Secret Service scandal

Still more from that brilliant column by Peggy Noonan, America’s Crisis of Character:

There is the Secret Service scandal. That one broke through too, and you know the facts: overseas to guard the president, sent home for drinking, partying, picking up prostitutes.

What’s terrible about this story is that for anyone who’s ever seen the Secret Service up close it’s impossible to believe. The Secret Service are the best of the best. That has been their reputation because that has been their reality. They have always been tough, disciplined and mature. They are men, and they have the most extraordinary job: take the bullet.

Remember when Reagan was shot? That was Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy who stood there like a stone wall, and took one right in the gut. Jerry Parr pushed Reagan into the car, and Mr. Parr was one steely-eyed agent. Reagan coughed up a little blood, and Mr. Parr immediately saw its color was a little too dark. He barked the order to change direction and get to the hospital, not the White House, and saved Reagan’s life. From Robert Caro’s “Passage of Power,” on Secret Service agent Rufus Youngblood, Nov. 22, 1963: “there was a sharp, cracking sound,” and Youngblood, “whirling in his seat,” grabbed Vice President Lyndon Johnson and threw him to the floor of the car, “shielding his body with his own.”

In any presidential party, the Secret Service guys are the ones who are mature, who you can count on, who’ll keep their heads. They have judgment, they’re by the book unless they have to rewrite it on a second’s notice. And they wore suits, like adults.

This week I saw a picture of agents in Colombia. They were in T-shirts, wrinkled khakis and sneakers. They looked like a bunch of mooks, like slobs, like children with muscles.

Special thanks to the person who invented casual Friday. Now it’s casual everyday in America. But when you lower standards people don’t decide to give you more, they give you less.

via America’s Crisis of Character – WSJ.com.

HT:  Doug Reynolds

Lutheran Anglicans

I met an Anglican priest the other day who, it turns out, was a big fan of Spirituality of the Cross and my other “Lutheran” books.  As I talked with him, I was astonished at how much he was into Lutheranism.  He explained that there is currently a strain in Anglicanism that is seeking to recover its Lutheran roots.

He said Anglicanism generally has had four theological strains:  (1) The mainline Protestantism of the Episcopal Church in America; (2) Anglo-Catholicism; (3) low church evangelicalism, which is often distinctly Reformed; (4) the charismatic movement.

But now, he says, a number of  Anglicans, especially young theologians, are rediscovering Luther, who was a major influence on the founders of Anglicanism, especially Thomas Cranmer.   They are finding that it is possible to be both sacramental and evangelical, liturgical and Biblical.  Above all, they are discovering that the Gospel as Luther understood it–radical, liberating–speaks powerfully to our own times and to the specific struggles of both Christians and non-Christians today.

The main force in this movement of Lutheran Anglicans or Anglican Lutherans is the Mockingbird Ministry, run by David Zahl and friends, whose main presence is the blog known as Mockingbird.  (Read the FAQ for why it’s called that.)  I have been reading and linking to it without realizing its role in a movement.  It’s a brilliant website, in both design and content.  Much of it is taken up with commentary on music, film, literature, and the culture as a whole.  But it’s also full of discussions of the distinction between Law & Gospel and the Theology of the Cross vs. the Theology of Glory.

It draws on ELCA theologians who are still Lutheran, such as Stephen Paulson and Gerhard Forde (who inspires a regular feature called “Forde Friday”), but also Missouri Synod stalwarts such as C. F. W. Walther and Rod Rosenbladt (who is called “our hero” and a formative influence).

And the design and tone are very cool and cutting-edged, not stodgy but young, sophisticated, even avant garde.

I’m not saying it’s all completely on target or could in every instance pass Missouri Synod doctrinal review–a recent post quotes Rudolph Bultmann, though one in which the liberal theologian sounds Lutheran–but it’s a good site to visit.

And it’s a challenge to us Lutheran Lutherans to remind us that, even as some of our own churches play it down, outsiders are finding our theology compelling.

 

The actual crisis in America

Peggy Noonan cuts to the heart:

People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.

Now I’d go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.

Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing.

She then runs down the list:  The GSA scandal, the Secret Service scandal, the soldiers posing with body parts scandal, the YouTubes of the tourist getting beaten in Baltimore while passersby laugh and the woman crying as she’s being felt up by the TSA.

In isolation, these stories may sound like the usual sins and scandals, but in the aggregate they seem like something more disturbing, more laden with implication, don’t they? And again, these are only from the past week.

The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective.

Something seems to be going terribly wrong.

via America’s Crisis of Character – WSJ.com.

Could it be cultural breakdown, a state in which there is no longer a sense of community that exerts any kind of social pressure to do what is right?

What do you think?  And is there any way to restore a sense of civilization and character?  (Politics will clearly not do that, since it provides so many more examples of this crisis of character.)

HT:  Doug Reynolds


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