Sunday, August 20, 2006

Genes

In church today, in keeping with the theme this summer of having lay people talk about their faith, the speaker was a Biblical scholar, and her focus was the subject of her PhD thesis, the book of Ruth. She had some interesting points to make that I had never considered. The book starts out Once Upon a Time and thus announces itself as a story rather than history. Because Ruth is a Moabite, she is surprised that Boaz is kind to her, a foreigner. What I didn’t know is that the legendary foundation of Moab is chronicled in the Bible: Lot’s two daughters seducing him so that they can have a child. The Moabites come from that ignominious beginning.

Our speaker didn’t say this, but I was thinking that from a genetic point of view, Ruth was wise to go into Judah to find a mate. What a great thing it has been for North Americans to have the genes of many countries. I come from a small village, and I can’t think of one of my contemporaries who married someone from the village. I have read that there is something in women’s makeup that prevents us from wanting to mate with our brothers and the boys in our neighbourhood are too much like brothers. We don’t often marry the proverbial “boy next door.” The aim of our complicated method of reproduction seems to be to have as many different kinds of unique individuals as possible.

I have noticed that people often speculate that a child looks like so and so or acts like so and so. It is interesting to try to figure out which genes are responsible for making us what we are. My mother-in-law, husband and daughter all have the same wiry hair and dark blue eyes. On the other hand my brother and I are left-handed, but our parents were right-handed. We don’t look like either of them nor do we look like each other. I would think I was adopted except that I have my mother’s feet. My daughter does too. I also like mayonnaise, as my mother did. My parents-in-law both had a strong addiction to cigarettes, as does my husband. This bad gene is more than compensated for by his getting their smart genes.

3 comments:

litlove said...

I'm always fascinated by the processes of inheritance. We are our parents' children not just in the genes we inherit but in the way we view life, the choices we think we have, the eccentricities. My brother and I are 7 years apart - he left home when I was only 12. Years later we constantly surprise each other (at least, it surprises me) by how alike we are, when it seemed as children we were completely different.

Poor Mad Peter said...

The Ojibway people had a custom that members of the same clan could not marry. One had to marry outside the clan.

zhoen said...

And why bigoted parents are destined to angst and misery from their children.