alex and i went to a concert last night by trio mediaeval, a trio of scandinavian [two norwegian one swedish] sopranos who did a beautiful concert of medieval music originally written for male voices, as well as a short program of norwegian folk music. imagine three absolutely pure voices filling Rockefeller Chapel in the cold, miserable gloom of a Chicago winter night, and you will realise why their music brought tears to my eyes. the medieval polyphony, in particular - i can almost, on the edge of my mind, go back hundreds of years to a time when churches were all filled with polyphonic latin chants, while the candles cast flickering light on male choristers dressed in robes - none of them holding music and with no conductor to keep time, only the music that flowed inside their blood to keep them together. from a time before the Church decided that it needed some way to keep its believers together and alert during Mass, and made everyone sing -and as a consequence had to make the music English [so that its non-Latin-speaking congregation could understand what it was singing] and simple [so that its non-specialist congregation would be able to follow along without the ability to read complicated music]. while i enjoy singing in church, there are times when i wish the Church had left the singing to the specialists; somehow it puts me in a more God-mindful mood to listen to voices like the trio mediaeval singing the Latin words to the Mass.
the South Koreans have done what everyone has been dithering about for the last few years, since Dolly the Sheep proved that cloning animals is technically possible: they have cloned a human being. i guess since Dolly the Sheep was cloned, we knew that human cloning was techically also a possibility -- because human beings are really sort of a larger kind of animal, at least physiologically speaking. but i always hoped that the ethical issues -the fear of playing God- would stop us. clearly, that hope was misconceived. of course, i'm not going to deny that stem-cell research might be important in the search for a cure for diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. i just don't believe that it is something to be undertaken without due care for the ethics of the situation.
when you weigh the difference between using stem-cells from aborted fetuses and using stem-cells from cloned embryos, i really don't know which is the lesser of the two evils. they both come back to the same question: the definition of 'life'. the notion of playing God really only makes sense if you think of the creation of these cloned embryos as creating life, because of the possibility that if they were transplanted into a womb they could potentially reach maturity and be born. just like in IVF. i guess i would really like to believe in humankind's ability to refrain from actual cloning of human babies -as in having cloned children born; as in playing God and creating life- but have not the faith that they will. the slippery slope and all. plus you have the argument that the people who accomplish the deed might just be thinking 'i wonder if it's actually possible for me to do this' rather than 'should i do this?'
happy valentine's day, everyone.