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January 31st, 2012

MY JOB AS A KILLER

I once had a job as a killer.  Funny, but I never thought of it like that until now, 60 years later.  I had no sooner gotten my job with a pathologist at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago than I found out I was pregnant.  Very early in the pregnancy I started to bleed and started cry, thinking I had perhaps lost the baby.   That was another funny thing.  Until then I hadn’t realized that at some visceral level I cared about – wanted – that baby.   But – back to the job.

My boss, Dr. Cloudman, was doing experiments studying the effects of various carcinogens on white mice.  The only two carcinogens I remember being involved were methylcholanthrene and yttrium 88.  Part of my job was to examine all the mice in the cages every day and keep a record of tumor growths, making diagrams of tumor locations and size.   When I noticed that a mouse’s ears, usually pink, had turned white, that meant it was bleeding internally and I had to kill it.  It is very easy to kill a mouse.  You just grab its tail, hold the dull edge of your scalpel at the base of its skull, and pull on the tail.  This breaks its neck and you have a dead mouse.

The doctor would then autopsy the mouse and give me tissue samples which I would imbed, section with a microtome, mount on slides and stain.  Doctor would read the slides and record his findings.   I had no idea, then, what he learned from his studies,  but I see from his archives that he moved to Argonne National Laboratory in 1947, the year that I married, and some of his publications are on line.

It did not bother me, to kill a mouse.  It was my job.  Because of this job, I can understand how people can work in an abortion clinic and hardly think about what they are doing.  Its just a job.   Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the narrator in the following video, The Silent Scream, was a killer, too.  As a  gynecologist in New York City he was responsible for thousands of abortions, was founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, and even aborted his own child. Filmed in 1980, The Silent Scream was ground-breaking in that it showed for the first time, using ultrasound, what goes on during an abortion. Back then ultrasound was a new tool, and grainy compared to today’s ultrasound pictures, but for the first time one could actually see the unborn child quietly moving around in the uterus, then the agitation when it senses invasion of its sanctuary, and then the silent open-mouthed scream in its final agony. And no one is more compentent to talk about it than Dr. Nathanson.

Nathanson finally understood  what really  happens during an abortion, saw hundreds of Operation Rescue people blocking abortion mills, praying and singing, and became the most influential pro-life gynecologist ever. He authored several books describing this journey, became a Christian and then a Catholic. Dr. Nathanson died this past year. May he rest in peace.

January 2nd, 2009

MORTIMER J. ADLER, CATHOLIC

Mortimer Adler, (December 28, 1902 – June 28, 2001) professor, educator, author, once claimed to be the most highly paid philosopher in the world. That may well be true as he was a long time professor at the University of Chicago, a popular lecturer and teacher, and author of over 50 books. He first burst into public consciousness with his best-seller non-fiction book, How to Read a Book, in 1940. His last book, Adler’s Philosophical Dictionary, was published in 1995.

I first met Dr. Adler at the University of Chicago when he and Milton Mayer were teaching a course on the Great Books. Unregistered students were allowed to sit in during the classes and enjoy the interaction as Adler and Mayer sat at the head of a long rectangular table with registered students seated all around it. I kept attending because I found the discussions fascinating and I could enjoy them without fear that I would be called on. My interest must have been obvious because at one point a note was sent from the head of the table to me, seated off to one side. It read: “Why are you here?” Under that I wrote: “Trite as it may seem, I’m seeking the truth” and sent the note back on its way.

That little incident seems to what led to my being invited to work for Mr. Adler as the Syntopicon was being put together. The Syntopicon was an index to the 102 ideas in the 54 volume set of The Great Books of the Western World, the first edition published in 1952.(Here is a link to our picture in LIFE magazine on 1/26/48.) The job certainly was nothing I applied for–I did not  know there was such an opening or even that such a thing was  happening.   (See my previous post on evolution.)

I soon married and started having children but still followed Adler’s career with interest. He was fond of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas and there was talk, even then, in the 1940’s, about his being seen praying in a Catholic church.  I learned he was accused of converting students to Catholicism because he taught St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica and Jews and Protestants were turning Catholic. He preferred to blame this on his friend Dr. Herbert Schwartz, a Jew who also had converted to Catholicism. Read the rest of this entry »

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