Stem Cells

[recorded for NPR “Morning Edition” December 2003; postponed to wait for a “news hook,” eventually lost in a system crash]When reports of human cloning first began appearing in the news, a lot of us had the initial reaction, “You're kidding, right?” They weren't kidding. This bizarre field of medical research is rarin' to go. We don't have much time to consider the question: should it? The idea of a full-grown human clone is creepy enough, but what about cloning for medical purposes--making an embryo with a patient's cells, then killing it to use in the patient's treatment? Even here we know instinctively that something's wrong. We know it isn't right to mix up a baby in a test tube and then, when it starts growing, chop it up for medicine. It isn't right to make medicine out of people.

Roe v Wade 30th Anniversary

[NPR, “Morning Edition,” January 22, 2003] Thirty years ago, when I was an idealistic college student, I volunteered at a feminist newspaper called “off our backs.” The Roe v Wade decision happened the first month I worked there. Our editorial said it didn't go far enough, because Roe requires a woman to have medical reason for abortion in the third trimester. I thought abortion rights were going to liberate women.

Pascha

[NPR, Morning Edition, May 3, 2002] Every couple of years this happens. It's like living in the Twilight Zone. For weeks, everywhere I went, there were fluffy chicks and bunny-baskets, and the grocery store was stacked with bags of pastel M & Ms. It was all about Easter--and now it's done. But not for me.

Everyday Faith

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” June 6, 1996] Michael's been gone about a month now, and we miss him. In a small church like ours, you need everybody. Now the choir's down to just one bass, and the other Sunday School teachers have to do double duty. At the same time we're happy for Michael, even proud. Our little church started just three years ago, and we're almost all converts--some from various denominations, some from no faith at all. Michael was one of the few who'd actually grown up Eastern Orthodox. When he announced he wanted to join Holy Cross Monastery in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, we felt somehow honored.

The Thrill of Naughtiness

[Christianity Today, September 6, 1999] I didn't go to see “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me;” I went to see the historic theater where it happened to be playing. But when those psychedelic colors started spilling off the screen I couldn't resist. Austin Powers, the ersatz James Bond, is a weenie with a Herman's Hermits haircut

Tasteless Miracles

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” December 27, 1996] As I zipped open the cardboard envelope a sweet, heavy fragrance began to spill out. Rifling among the magazine and newspaper clippings I found it, a plastic bag containing a cotton ball. A drop of golden oil was soaked into the cotton. I gently opened the bag, and the scent of roses spilled into the room.

Kosovo

[NPR, ”All Things Considered, June 7, 1999] As a convert to Orthodox Christianity, I' ve been undecided about Kosovo. While most Orthodox take a pro-Serb position, I don't feel compelled to follow; when I converted I joined a faith, not an ethnic group. Throughout history members of my Church have done both good and evil, and Serbia's Orthodox identity does not alone prove their cause is just. On the other hand, I'm reflexively anti-war, and have been since my college days during Viet Nam. Perhaps war can be a justifiable last resort, but this situation doesn' t reach that standard.

Forgiveness Vespers

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” March 2, 1998] On the first night of Lent, as Vespers comes to an end, my husband turns from the altar. He asks everyone to form a circle around the interior of the church, and when we're in place, the person next to him--in this case, our son David--steps over to face his dad. My husband crosses himself, bows to David, then says, “Forgive me, my brother, for any way I have sinned against you. ” David says, “I forgive you,” and they embrace. Then it's David' s turn to bow to his dad and ask the same question, and receive the same forgiveness and embrace.

Holy Week

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” April 14, 1998] Holy Week is 501 pages long. My husband's Greek-English prayerbook begins with Palm Sunday evening, but the week actually starts the day before, Lazarus Saturday, when we commemorate the raising of Jesus's friend as a foreshadowing of Pascha. Some churches anticipate Lazarus Saturday with a service Friday evening. That's the Orthodox way: can we add a few more icing roses to the top of this cake?

Horse Trough Baptism

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” June 8, 1998] In this ranch house in an older suburb, the carpet in the dining room is vintage orange shag. But no dining table stands on it tonight; we moved out the table and moved in a giant Rubbermaid horse trough--the hundred-gallon size. The baptismal service is in full swing. As incense rises and the choir sings, my husband, the priest, floats blessed oil on top of the warm water. Then it' s time for Mitchell to step in. Some churches sprinkle for baptism, or pour water from a silver cup. But the Eastern Orthodox Church prefers full immersion, dunking the entire person underwater.