Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Language of Death

I was reading "Reality" by J.C. Polkinghorne last night. I was also trying to figure out a way to engage my teenage daughters in a lively conversation without letting them know that was what I was doing. I came across a word that I'd never heard used before and it surprised me considering I'm a father of six children. The word was "neonate", or newborn baby(my twin sons stayed in the neonatal ICU for 11 days but never once were they called "neonates"). I started thinking of that word and wondered if there was also a similar word, such as "prenate", to describe the cluster of cells that make up a living fetus or fertilized embryo. I'm not a scientist or doctor so bear with my ignorance. Since both my daughters are going through a reproductive health section at school I thought it a supernatural answer to my longings as this question was posed in my mind. I asked them both, "Girls, what are the words to describe a baby that is not yet born? I mean, what is the school teaching you to call them?" They both agreed "fertilized embryo" and "fetus" were the terms that they identified with. Both of these terms are universal whether the organism is living or dead. I talked to them about this and they both agreed that they hadn't thought of that before (neither had I) and we had a great discussion on reproductive choice, preservation of life, stewardship of the lives that God has entrusted to our care, etc.. I think our family is going to start using the word "prenate" alot more often. I know its colder than "baby" but it might be a lead in for some good discussions. Besides, prenate has a certain positivity and hopefulness attached to it that cannot be described in any other one word. I wonder if the general public started thinking of these little lives as prenates whether we would see a stronger activism on the part of saving the unborn? I know of Christians that feel reproductive choice should not be legislated but yet they applaud the efforts of groups like PETA and the Humane Society for their activism in helping pets lead a more "humane" life. I say, "Save the Prenate"! They are endangered, unique to their own living environment, and regardless of how I've felt about some of those that are reaching or have reached maturity, wonderfully made by a loving God.


1 comment:

bluesbaby said...

Yeah, it has always confounded me that people support PETA and abortion. My husband has a song lyric about this "Meat is murder, but abortion is a woman's choice." So it seems christians are not the only ones that live between paradoxes at times...hmm interesting. Pre (before) nate (birth) In Italy Christmas is called Natale. You can make the connection. I love language like that. I think shifting language in this manner really has a powerful impact on how societies think.