Grace Church in New York

The Rector’s Letter 

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I read in the newspaper that the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to two scientists – Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna – for developing a gene editing technique called Crispr. Crispr promises many blessings to humanity, such as the elimination of inherited diseases. But it also raises many ethical questions. How much control should we exercise over the natural evolution of any species, especially our own? Do we really want to live in a world of designer babies, whose parents get to choose the hair and eye color of their children?

My younger brother is a genetic scientist with a pharmaceutical firm, so I decided to have some fun and text him about Crispr. The thread ran as follows: A Crispr, I began, is the cardboard sleeve you put your Hot Pocket in before microwaving. What’s with the Nobel Prize? He took the bait and immediately replied, Hey, that’s a huge breakthrough. Who doesn’t love Hot Pockets? I answered, True, I don’t know why some are worried about an ethical quandary. To which he typed, There are a few idiots out there who don’t like their Hot Pockets crispy on the outside. I resisted the urge to give him a pastoral scolding for calling people who disagree with him idiots. Instead I wrote, That’s their choice but they shouldn’t be allowed to force the rest of us to live diminished lives. My brother ended the exchange with a hearty, Agreed! 

Later on I thought to myself how nice it would be to live in a world so simple that the great debate was whether you preferred your Hot Pocket crispy or doughy on the outside. We don’t live in such a world. Our time is complicated, combative, and for the vast majority of people, exhausting. The pandemic, the economy, the political process, and the same old societal ills that keep rearing their ugly head have left people exhausted – spiritually, psychologically, and financially exhausted. But asking if the clouds will ever lift is probably the wrong question. You see, it’s been the arrogance of many a generation to conclude that no time ever has been more evil, more stressful, and more difficult than their own. The truth is, we merely occupy one place in a long line of people who were exhausted by life and still managed to press onward and upward. We will too.

But not alone. As people of faith we know that we struggle not alone. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold, sings the Psalmist (46). Last Sunday I was struck by the reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (3). After acknowledging much suffering, he wrote about how knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection gave him the strength to press on towards the heavenly call of God.

Come to church on Sunday at 11 am, or tune into the livestream as we gather in the presence of Jesus, who promises that by the power of his Spirit, we shall be more than conquerors. In the meantime, treat yourself to a tasty Hot Pocket – either crispy or doughy on the outside. It’s your choice.

The Reverend J. Donald Waring