Sunday, August 21, 2005

Body: The Exhibit

Today I received an e-mail from a Christian friend of mine. Committed and sincere in her faith, Dianne Zalewski is a member of an active prayer group. She ministers to the sick through a hospital program and has attended vigils and protests in regard to ethical issues. I know of no one who lives her faith more actively.

Dianne attended Bodies: The Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. This is what she wrote me:

"'Bodies' at MOSI affected me on as many levels as there were layers revealed throughout the exhibit. My mind reeled at the complexities of the human body. My eyes drank in the beauty of the systems (e.g., skeletal, muscular, circulatory, digestive). My heart raced at the expertise that preserved these human beings and their dignity.

At the end of the exhibit, comment folders were filled with praises for the scientists, promises to quit smoking, statements by doctors that all medical students and workers would benefit from attending, exclamations that there must be a God, and comparisons to the Chicago exhibit -- claiming that MOSI's was better.

I believe that those who declaim this exhibit as not respectful have not gone to see for themselves. The atmosphere inside is as reverent and quiet as a church. If the proof is in the pudding, one only need watch the people attending. There is no snickering, laughing or rude pointing. Instead, people display respect for the wonders of the human body and the majesty of God. This experience is nothing short of awe-inspiring and thought-provoking.

Unfortunately, we felt we had to race to MOSI Thursday morning before someone managed to close it down. Based on the crowds present on opening day, I hope public outcry will keep this amazing exhibit open for a very long time."

On August 19th, the St. Petersburg Times ran a story giving visitor's reactions.

Yesterday the New York Times published an article on this exhibit.

The reported reactions of attendees have been, far and away, positive.

My understanding is that the objections that were originally raised came from Christians who think the exhibit is demeaning to humans and an "insult to life."

As a result of their protests, Florida's state medical board and the Florida attorney general have gotten involved over "ethical" issues and have recommended the closing of the exhibit.

This is unfortunate, for as one visitor was quoted:

"You can't get this kind of education in a textbook."

Once again we have an unnecessary clash between a certain type of Christian and science. Once again, a certain type of Christian is denying the need for knowledge in the real world, a world that has a multitude of illnesses and diseases and which desperately needs education about how the body develops and works.

I wish I could embrace this person and reassure him or her that information is not his or her enemy. The truth about the human body and our universe will make us free if we are willing to look at it and have faith that "all things work together for good."

Fear is a terrible thing that can shut down what we most need. But as a great man once said: There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

May fearlessness be with you.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Romans 1:20


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