The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Personal Property

''We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God's words are a solid reality''.
Pope Benedict XVI addressing Synod of Bishops - October 2008

The news is awash with stories about the economic crisis that has sent world stock markets into a nose dive, frozen up credit, and crippled banks. If one attempts to understand it all, one quickly starts to become familiar with a new set of terms and phrases like, "breaking the buck," "credit default swaps," "leverage and hedging." Such is the language of those serving mammon.

What is of true value?

As one looks around at the material possessions one has acquired over the years, it proves a humbling exercise to examine each object and ponder its relevance in the grand scheme of things. Certainly a dollar value can be set upon the car, the jewelry, or a work of art, but even that is subjective. A dent in the car, a flaw in the diamond, or a tear in the canvas suddenly diminish their value. Nevertheless, regardless of condition a price can be affixed to one's personal property.

Prior to the Civil War in America, human beings from Africa were bought and sold as personal property to wealthy plantation owners or really anyone who wanted someone else to do the hard labor or menial tasks. And while the war between the states ended slavery in these United States, there are currently, today, approximately twenty-million people in human bondage in places like Sudan, India, Haiti, and Pakistan. Life is cheap in these places. For about $15 one can purchase a slave in southern Sudan. It costs more to have a pizza delivered to one's home in America.

A sense of outrage should resonate within the heart at the thought of human life as personal property to be bargained to the highest bidder. And yet the smaller and more innocent the life is, the greater probability it has of being treated as less than human. A vast majority of slaves, today, are children.

In the state of Oregon, human life as personal property has extended into the womb. Dr. Laura Dahl a pediatrician and her now ex-husband, Dr. Darrell Angle, an orthodontist, engaged in a custody battle over the disposition of six frozen embryos they had produced for in vitro fertilization. According to an Associated Press news article, Dr. Angle wanted to donate the embryos to another couple; however, Dr. Dahl objected to this because she did not want anyone else to raise her child and she feared that one or more of six might one day try to contact her son who was naturally conceived. Her choice was to destroy the embryos as was her right under the contract she had with Dr. Angle.

Presiding Judge Rex Armstrong of the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that there was a contractual right to determine the fate of the embryos as personal property. Assuming the case does not get appealed further, these six human beings, innocent, vulnerable, and signifcant, will be unceremoniously destroyed.

What is of true value?

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
Luke 12:24

How ironic that were one to find a birdsnest with six eggs, one would likely take care to leave it be and allow those chicks to hatch; yet human life get summarily extinguished. Small wonder that a culture who cannot figure out that which has true value has such a difficult time handling its finances, which as our Holy Father so adeptly pointed out, is of no value at all.

Put in the vernacular of Wall Street, human life is subject to being sold short.

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