Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Archive for the ‘Science and Religion’ Category

Spring, Mitochondria, & New Life

As I crawl out from under a bout of influenza A, which was made dangerous for me by my anti-rejection drugs, I contemplate genetics, and how my family has been seriously impacted by auto-immune disease. Somehow aspects of my environment triggered my immune system to go into overdrive and attack the biliary mitochondria in my liver as though attacking a foreign body. My transplant has not eliminated my body’s tendency to do this; it was not a cure. It has given me some more years if I am fortunate, and I struggle to understand what has happened to me and to adjust to my new chimeric life.

 

While spending day after day in bed recovering from the flu, I read Carl Zimmer’s book She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, about the history of heredity and the impact of science upon our understanding of it. The book ended with the author pondering about gene editing of human eggs and embryos (CRISPR), which is currently in the global news as scientists struggle with the ethics and wisdom of using this powerful technology. My head is spinning with all this: I am creeped out by it, and can envision disaster resulting from gene editing, but had the gene(s) responsible for my immune system’s unwarranted attack  been successfully edited away, my transplant would have been unnecessary, and I would not have passed such genes on to my children and grandchildren. That is a heavy burden. If, if, if.

 

Although I learned about mitochondria in science class in high school, it was Madeleine L’Engle’s science/fictional account of Charles Wallace’s illness in A Wind in the Door that first reawakened my curiosity about mitochondria when my children were young. At that time I had no idea how important mitochondria would become in my life. However, it was not L’Engle’s forces of cosmic evil which messed with my mitochondria, but genetics and environment. My love of science fiction is accompanied by my life-long love of science. After all, my father taught genetics at the university level. <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wind_in_the_Door”>

 

Myth, science, science fiction, religion, folklore, myth….I love it all. It is about trying to understand our place in the cosmos and on Earth. In a confusing, fast-paced, and precarious world, Spring brings me hope. Spring = new life. Today is my donor’s 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Robb! I would not be here without your extremely generous and miraculous gift of part of your liver. I am grateful every day.

Ecstatic Naturalism

Just learned about the First International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism, at Drew University on April 1 & 2, 2011. Very tempting.

From the conference website:

An ecstatic naturalism is a perspective that seeks to move toward an aesthetic phenomenology of nature’s “sacred folds”—special centers of numinous meaning and power that may be found throughout nature, where “nature” may be understood to mean an encompassing reality that has no other, there is no referent “for” nature nor any outside “to” nature.

I recently started reading Robert S. Corrington’s book Nature’s Religion, to learn more about his concept of “sacred folds.”  If you’ve read the book, please leave me a comment with your opinion of it (or of any of his other books), or leave a note about your own experience(s) with “sacred folds.”

Another quote from the conference page:

Corrington probes into the correlation of psychosemiotics with the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Rank, Jung, Reich, and Kristeva wherein the human unconscious shows itself to be the multiform gateway to the vast underconscious of nature.

Wow.

Summer Gatherings

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After spending a week at a science and religion conference with more than 100 people,

IRAS on Star Island 2010

I came home to my husband’s college reunion at our home, with about twenty of his college friends, some of whom he hadn’t seen for forty years.

Photo by Art Nager

This morning I was on a radio show about the upcoming series for women Growing Older, Growing Wiser: Becoming an Elderwoman –

and now I’m planning for the annual campout of Wellspring Haven.

Photo by Sharon Lips

The weekend after that, I’ll be attending a college reunion of my own.

Reunion, Callicoon 2009

It’s been an intense summer of gathering in communities of diverse people. And it will continue into September, when I’ll be attending a Céile Dé gathering.

So much richness, and so little time to blog about it!