Hello from Michigan! Classes are finished for the 1st term, and I am fortunate enough to spend the next few weeks with family and friends in the Midwest. As you may have noticed with the post dates, I’m a bit behind on writing… Alas, there are only 24 hours in a day, but as I have been often reminded: write now, cherish the gift of memories forever.
Since we are less than 1 week away from Christmas (!) I’ve bumped this post a bit higher on my priority list. Over the last few weeks (or really months, since Londoners don’t have Thanksgiving to delay the anticipation for Christmas) I’ve been soaking up the spirit that warms a cold chapel during a candlelit Advent caroling service… that shimmers in lights adorning Christmas trees in city squares… that radiates from a mug of mulled wine or tin of minced pie.
It is truly something to behold, and while I think I’ve done a good job of participating in and appreciating the Wonder, I guess it blends into the scenery after a while? Driving away from O’Hare with “Season Greetings” written in lights on the Blue Line train traveling next to us, traveling into a (comparatively) unlit city center was a bit… odd.
I’m not saying London is some holy land– it works the commercial end of the holiday season just as much, if not more than the average American city– but this Advent season makes it quite clear that the UK countries are officially Christian (England = Anglican) while the US does not have a state religion. Interested in whether or not this was representative of the citizens in those countries, I did a quick census consult. Fun fact: 59% of UK citizens and 76% of Americans self-identify with a Christian religion. Hmm.
This incongruity doesn’t just have an effect on December festivities, though. It also shows up in the bioethics classroom. Take for instance organ donation, a topic I considered for one of my papers this month. Views on organ donation vary quite a bit between different religious (or ethnic) groups ranging from a “commanded obligation” to donate to (essentially) an obligation not to donate. (See UNOS Theological Perspectives for more info.) Should these religious views be taken into consideration in determining bioethical practices? This is up for hot debate among bioethicists and my interest in the intersection of philosophy, theology, and healthcare has placed me smack in the middle of this debate. Though I think I’ve derailed the post enough, this topic will certainly be returning in future months. 🙂
Until then, Merry Christmas & to be continued…
(Featured Image: One of many Christmas trees & ice skating rinks in London– this one happens to be right next to my KCL Strand campus!)