Questions about life itself

Over the past year, I have regularly covered the topic of abortion as it intersects with my duties as The Times’ national religion correspondent. In the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a question has been asked many times: When does life begin?

This question is at the same time basic and complex. It has also become so politicized that it is difficult to participate thoughtfully. Even the question itself can be confusingly broad. Biologically, when is an organism an organism? Or philosophically, what makes a person? And spiritually, when do people have a soul?

People have grappled with the question of when life began through time and cultures. Over the past few months, I’ve talked to scientists, philosophers, and spiritual leaders to explore the question and learn how people think about it. The resulting story Publish online here.

One mother I interviewed told me that the question of life and when it began seemed so much bigger than the infighting we hear in politics — and she was right. This question also goes beyond the confines of law and science and goes to the heart of human experience.

When journalists cover a law or investigate a particular event, there are a number of obvious and discoverable answers. The discovery of a question itself is not quite so. My report doesn’t answer this one. Instead, I hope that by writing about my journey to find answers, I will give you some space and ideas to reflect on your own views and maybe even start a conversation. Talk to friends and family about a topic that might make you feel taboo.

Last year at this time, I discovered how people understand time. Last year, when the number of deaths from Covid increased, I wrote about How do we survive the winter?. I reported about Value of life in Americacycle of apocalypse in human stories and what it means to be transformed personally and culturally.

These are all questions of the spirit. And they are questions that people share.

Read Elizabeth’s Latest Story on a question that “goes beyond politics, law, and science to the heart of the human experience.”

Welcome to a new year of culture. Among the releases that Times critics are most looking forward to:

Margaret Lyons Can’t wait for “Success” Part 4: “Oh, now I can hear the piano theme jingle, and just know that the Roys are abandoned and broken, their beautiful devastating dialogue and the endless, dull quests for power that will be back on my screen will soon fill me with excitement.

Mike Hale is eagerly awaiting two crime dramas that take different approaches to a venerable, enigmatic format of the week: Fox’s “Accused” and Peacock’s “Poker Face.” Both are out this month.

Zachary Woolfe proposed production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” which has been absent for a while in 25 or 30 titles in the historic center of the Metropolitan Opera. “It will be a big event when, on February 26, the opera finally returns to New York in a new setting.”


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