News you may have missed: The default tendency of our bodies’ *antigens to combat previously known invaders, but not necessarily their newer mutations. An example: Those infected with earlier forms of COVID19—or immunized against Delta, Omnicron and their viral cousins—might not develop or maintain the antigens necessary to combat newly emerging variants. Epidemiologists have dubbed this phenomenon “original antigenic sin” (OAS) or “antibody imprinting.” One way to think of this matter: Our immune systems are better at fighting previous wars.
This idea might apply to my older adult sense of purpose, my ongoing calling. This is especially true of those places where I want to protect and defend against, or confront the dangers that might plague us individually and collectively. Some of these widespread problems are very basic—e.g., self-idolatry, greed or lying. Others have been tagged as isms—e.g., sexism, racism, materialism or ageism. Still other corrosives have been recognized more recently. (Examples: Anger-addiction, growing income inequities or over-reliance on social media.) And on the near horizon: Frightening perils such as world-wide famine, growing fascism or environmental collapse.
Which of these dangers, disasters or damnations do I work at? On the one hand, it makes sense to keep at what I’ve always done: Work on the basics—idolatry, greed, lying, etc.—and the time-honored isms. It would be a shame to set them aside while I confront trends that are newer or seemingly more harmful. On the other hand—here’s where original antigenic sin might fit—fighting the previous wars doesn’t deal with what’s happening right now. (And to make this more difficult: I’m not even sure “oppose all of it” is the most effective answer.)
One thing is sure, whichever protective calling(s) I choose: I hope to continue working as one of God’s providential antigens!
*These small immunological miracle workers defend our bodies from bugs of all kinds–protection that, once in place, remains over our lifetimes. OAS-inclined or not, antigens patrol our blood streams at every moment, challenging and destroying harmful bacteria, viruses and other substances that can harm us. Soli Deo gloria!
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