Biology of Misfortune, Some Folks Lives, and God.

While daughter Jess was at her accidental pig roast, Kathy and I had a fascinating dinner discussion Saturday with Jill Boyce and her husband Dr. Tom Boyce regarding his theory of “A Biology of Misfortune.”

It prompted me to go online and there I found a You Tube of a panel in which I learned that Tom’s research shows that early childhood is a “crucial time for establishing the brain architecture that shapes children’s future cognitive, social and emotional well-being …children growing up in a disadvantaged setting show disproportionate levels of reactivity to stress, and it shows at the level of hormonal studies, neurological brain imaging studies and at the level of epigenetic profiling.”

His work draws on pediatrics, genetics, sociology and economic and he believes “the nature versus nurture debate is all but over, they are intertwined.” Jack Shonkoff, MD (Director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University), the symposium organizer, commented on Boyce’s research: “Tom’s work is so important, because what biology is telling us is that maybe the reason we’re not getting a bigger bang for the buck in early education is because … there is a biological embedding of adversity in the early years … enough to diminish the impact of rich learning experiences.”

Sunday Grant did a masterful job on the Philippians text, “God who has begun a good work in you will complete it…” Immediately after we counseled with a young woman who was in grief because her dog had died, and deeper grief at her own sense of aloneness.

Monday I saw Steve on the ferry and gave him a lift to the hospital for a checkup. We explored the modifiers of the word “wit,” nitwit, halfwit, witless, and concluded that we were each ½ wits that combined together became a whole wit!

Steve asked me why some peoples lives fall into place and others don’t? I mentioned Tom Boyce’s research, on the “biology of Misfortune,” but also played him the Paul Simon song, “Some folks lives.”

“Some folks’ lives roll easy as a breeze, drifting through a summer night, heading for a sunny day. But most folks’ lives, oh they stumble, Lord they fall, through no fault of their own, most folks never catch their stars.

And here I am, Lord, I’m knocking at your place of business, I know I ain’t got no business here. But you said if I ever got so low I was busted, You could be trusted. Some folks’ lives roll easy, Some folks’ lives never roll at all, Oh, they just fall, they just fall; some folks’ lives.”

Determinant genetics and God juxtapose uncomfortably unless you know of Tolkien’s invented word, “eucatastrophe.” His invention combines the Greek words for good, “eu” and “catastrophe,” a synonym for misfortune.  Boyce is describing catastrophe’s impact on our lives. Tolkien viewed God’s intervention in history as “a “eu-castrophe,” a good catastrophe.

Is not God one factor in resetting our biology in the aftermath of misfortune? What is the relationship of the “biology of misfortune” and the “theology of misfortune?”

Steve put it this way, “All I know is I need God.”

Now on the Isle of Wight, thinking of another Island, Orcas, where dwell such interesting folks as Tom, Steve, Grant and a young woman whose misfortune is the loss of her dog.

Small is beautiful and local is magic.

 

 

Posted in Staublog in June 23, 2011 by | 1 Comment »

One Response to Biology of Misfortune, Some Folks Lives, and God.

  1. ST062311 | Dick Staub on June 23, 2011 at 3:47 am

    […] Now on the Isle of Wight, thinking of another Island, Orcas, where dwell such interesting folks as Tom, Steve, Grant and a young woman whose misfortune is the loss of her dog. Small is beautiful and local is magic. Read more. […]

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