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In Vitro, In Utero, In Trouble

I am a Catholic, yet am concerned by the Vatican's statement tonight that the awarding of the Nobel Prize for a "father" of "test tube" conception is "unacceptable".  Theologically, it may well be - but surely, the jury in selecting its winners should be guided by scientific criteria alone.  Ironically, there is a sense that the "Literature" Nobel often goes to persons for extra-literary reasons, reasons of moral or socio-political nuance.  So perhaps the Church feels that the same moral conditions should be considered when deciding on the scientific and medical awards.  Yet, it seems the Church is making a cardinal error  - it should continue to feel able to express its own position on IVF treatment (which could change in time, and under renewed leadership later in the 21st century) - yet not propose to question the secular authority of a body like the Nobel committee.  In another paradox, Dr. Edwards has brought four more million souls into the world, with his work, than might have been otherwise.  Infertility affects 10% of all couples, and is a heart-breaking and life-changing experience.  For those millions of couples helped to have a biological birth child through this process, the joy and relief brought to them, the lifting of great sorrow, cannot be considered a moral evil.  On the other hand, the Church's position - that the infertile should adopt - is also, in some ways, admirable - and many of those for whom IVF fails, will turn to that option.  In terms of the concerns of the misuse of conjugal conception via the petri dish, as it were, I am unable to speak, as I am neither a priest, nor a scientist.  I personally feel that science and religion should work more closely together, to help shed light upon the confusion of our lives in what is still a hugely strange world of wonders, rather than divide the darkness of ignorance between them - one side morally blind, the other blind to the benefits of medical advances.  Always, though, the tension must be between "playing God", and respecting the individual's sacred self.


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Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
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of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.