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REPOMEN, SPLICE AND MAN’S DENIAL OF GOD’S ORDER IN THE WORLD

Joel C. Sagut

In August 06, 2010, the Rector of the University of Santo Tomas, Rev. Fr. Rolando V. dela
Rosa, O.P., presided over the Eucharistic celebration for the feast of the Father and Founder
of the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic de Guzman. In his homily, the Father Rector stressed
that the Dominicans, Thomasians included, are always called to break new barriers and
discover new horizons. The University of Santo Tomas is in fact a concrete manifestation of
the greatness of the Dominicans’ missionary zeal. Without the first visionary men who
thought of putting up a valuable institution for learning, despite the uncertainty of what is to
come, the University would not be celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2011. The University
of Santo Tomas is itself a sign of a boundary pushed, and the act of transcending the
physical limitations faced by the missionaries at that time. But the Father Rector also
emphasized that to set forth for new things is accompanied by the invitation to be vigilant
and responsible so that whatever “new” thing we encounter would help us orient ourselves
into the Divine plan for the world rather than alienate us from it.

It is this call to “move forward responsibly” that comes into my mind as I recently watched
two movies that touched on the issue of breakthroughs in the field of science and medicine:
the Repomen and Splice.

Body parts for sale!


Repomen revolves around the story of two men whose job is to “repossess” the body organs
from clients who have failed to pay them. Their employer was able to convince the public
that immortality can be made possible if only failing parts of the human body are replaced
with the new and functional ones. Hence, their company’s business is selling any type of
bodily organs meant to replace those organs which already ceased to perform their proper
function. Their company brings the promise of freeing everybody from death and the
limitation of the human body. All that needs to be done is buy the much needed
replacement for the damaged ones.

Since their company provides the road to immortality, their commodities also come with
expensive tags. Eventually their clients fail to settle their monthly accounts, and the
repomen are expected to extract the unpaid organs. Each organ is likened to any other
commodity. In the same way as a car is repossessed when the client could no longer pay, in
the same way will these organs be.

People who have unsettled accounts with the company would have to run and hide, because
an overdue (unpaid) organ will be legally taken by the repomen at any time.

A hybrid Human, a sign of human genius?


The movie Splice tells the story of two young researchers who wanted to explore on creating
new species with the hope of probing deeper into the human capacity to fight the currently
known untreatable diseases. In their research, they have embarked on the controversial
work of including the human species in their experiment. This has eventually produced a
human hybrid, whom they have adopted as their own child. They had hidden the “new
creation” from the public eye in order to avoid further controversy.

The new creation, which obviously behaved like a human being, grew bigger and stronger
until it completely become “human,” though with features that resemble other animals. It
began to be interested in human activities, not excluding sexual activities. Reaching the
stage of adulthood, the new creation has become a fine young lady. It had even succeeded
in seducing his male “parent-creator” that eventually led to a broken relation with its female
“parent-creator.” With the conflict, the once meek and sweet “creature” has now turned to
become violent, asserting its own desires and wants, as a human person should do. The
conflict has become deadly and the “creators” have eventually decided to get rid of it.
Equipped with the instinct to survive, the “creature” has managed to evade death, and has
even metamorphosed to become a “male” species. It managed to kill his male “parent-
creator,” raped and impregnated the female “parent-creator” before it was finally killed.

Technology and Human Freedom


Pope Benedict XVI has clearly affirmed the value of technology. He says, “The challenge of
development today is closely linked to technological progress, with its astounding
applications in the field of biology. Technology – it is worth emphasizing – is a profoundly
human reality, linked to the autonomy and freedom of man. In technology, we express and
confirm the hegemony of the spirit over matter” (Caritas in Veritate, 69). However, the Pope
has also warned us about a possible misconception that could result from our current
perception of the greatness of the power of human technology. He says, “Produced through
human creativity as a tool of personal freedom, technology can be understood as a
manifestation of absolute freedom, the freedom that seeks to prescind from the limits
inherent in things” (Ibid., 70). This is where technology can become destructive in our
human vocation to nurture and care for this world. For when technology gets into the hands
of malicious hearts, it becomes a weapon that stifles the mysteries of human life and
therefore kills the transcendent character of the human spirit. Technology becomes an
instrument of control and manipulation, and provides the false conception that human
beings have now become the equals of God.

The two movies mentioned above clearly speak about man’s defiance against the order set
by God over His creation. It is a refusal to accept our own nature as “creatures” of God. We
are misled by the serpent to think that there is more to our limited human nature. Our
present human innovations can run the risk of becoming the contemporary voice of the
serpent telling us that the fruit is good to eat, and it can in fact provide us the knowledge of
good and evil, which is our gateway to becoming an equal of God.

Human sinfulness comes from that defiance against God’s order, and such defiance
engenders more death and suffering. Our defiance makes us lost beings, bereft with a sense
of purpose and direction. Our defiance has alienated us from God, and makes us wander
endlessly in a world that denies the Divine order.

But, as created beings, our fulfillment rests only in something that is beyond us. Our
ultimate solace is to find our own place in the order of God, prepared for us by Christ. Our
salvation rests in our admission of who we are: created, limited, and yet saved and
perfected by the salvific act of Christ on the cross. Limitation is an ontological aspect of our
creatureliness. There is no way out of it. This life is really limited. But, it is always perfected
by that hope that we will one day eventually find our place in the blissful presence of the
Father. Only then can we find our lasting rest and peace.

Any denial of our creatureliness and limitation is a rebellion against our nature. It is a
testimony of our ingratitude towards the Father. Human life is indeed full of trials and
inconveniences, and it is ultimately finite. Human life would have to meet its ultimate end.
No one could even deny our creaturely “mortality.” We need to accept the fact that we get
sick and we will eventually die. These are all part of our nature as creatures. We are surely
given the capacity to utilize the world and improve our human conditions. These are also
constitutive parts of our human freedom. But progress, in any form, becomes meaningless if
it does not fall within the Divine plan. Benedict XVI says, “when he is far away from God,
man is unsettled and ill at ease” (Ibid., 76).

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