Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bodies and More Bodies

The fuss over Robbie Williams' new song continues unabated. It seems to me like a bizarre mishmash of bible words, phrases and concepts thrown together without any understanding or coherence. For further thoughts on the song, you would do well to see David Keen's writings, and also the summary of other discussions he has compiled.

The song Bodies as reminded me that I intended to write about one of the most fascinating parts of our recent trip to New York: The aptly named Bodies Exhibition. Reading about it in the guide book on the flight over, I wasn't overly fussed on going to see it. I'm not great with blood, guts and gore in actual real life (despite enjoying a good horror film or two). Casualty or Holby City aren't on my must-see TV list. All rather amusing, given that I'm married to a real life doctor!

We went to see the exhibition, and it made a pleasant change from both churches and shops. Ever wondered what happens when people donate their bodies to medical science? Wonder no longer. Some are used for medical research, some are used for dentist and doctor training in medical schools for dissection, and some appear in the Bodies Exhibition in New York.

The displays are all former people, amazingly preserved using chemicals, and carefully dissected to show the various systems of the body- skeleton, muscles, skin, nervous system, blood system, reproductive, digestive, and anything else you can think of. In some cases, the dissection is of a particular organ, or joint, or structure, but in some, it's a full body striking a pose to highlight a particular body function - stretching, throwing, holding. One display is worth mentioning: it looks like two people holding hands and leaning backwards, balancing away from the other - but on closer inspection, it is the skeleton on one side and the muscle structure on the other, expertly dissected from each other, to show how muscles and bones need each other to function properly.

I've told some people about the exhibition already, and while it sounded interesting, there were a few moral questions raised, concerning the use of remains in this way. I think it's fine, though, as it's not sensationalist, but rather educational and informative. It's very tasteful, and throughout was a cause of wonder, at the strength, purpose, and wisdom of the Creator who knits us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139). Nowhere was this more evident than in the section with preserved stillborn foetuses - with human features and distinguishable hands, feet and more long before the 'legal' cutting-off point for abortions in the UK. How anyone could continue to favour abortions having seen these infants, and deny that they are people like us is incredible.

So from Robbie Williams and his bodies to the New York Bodies, one is just confusing, while the other is illuminating!

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