Conception

by Francis Etheredge

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism



This is a 623-page book investigating philosophy, theology, embryology, the visual arts, and poetry in celebration of the beauty and inviolability of human life in the womb. It reminds me of the words of King David in the Psalm: “I praise thee for my wondrous fashioning.

A book to plunge into the debate on the beginning of life like a life-boat dropping into the stormy seas filled with a variety of arguments both simple and more complex, drawing on reason and expert human biologists, the wisdom of Scripture, the Fathers and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, an extensive contents for searching the many varied and diverse kinds of contributions and launched in the hope of helping the unborn, the frozen and all who are open to be launched by the wonder of the life but in a bewildering maze of difficulties.

Each one of us is a witness to a beginning. Learning to speak about that beginning is a personal work that we share with others. This book, then takes up those initial questions, sources, and terms that help us to make sense of human conception and express it in a new way. Each of us comes to exist through others: a child has a father and a mother and is embedded in a family. Indeed, if to be conceived is to be “conceived in a relationship” then we are an icon of the Beginning. Just, however, as the beginning of creation expressed an act of the mystery of God so does the conception of each one of us and therefore exploring human conception is at the same time an exploration of how human conception recapitulates the mystery of man’s creation.

The author writes with passion and a focus on purpose. The other authors write with passion and hope that their work will make a difference in the understanding of creation and all that it means.

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