Category : Death / Burial / Funerals

(The Witness) Jemar Tisby–Reflections on the Anniversary of the Murder of the Emanuel Nine

The slayings at Emanuel AME sparked a surge or long-overdue reforms. It served as the impetus to finally remove the confederate flag from the statehouse grounds Charleston. Black people and their allies have long viewed the Confederate flag as the symbol par excellence of white supremacy. The murder of nine black people in a Bible study finally convinced enough white people that the Confederate flag might actually represent not heritage but hate.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu cited the Mother Emanuel tragedy as part of the motivation for his bold stand to take down the Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Landrieu first started calling for the monuments to come down less than a week after the Emanuel Nine were killed.

Racial progress is not a myth, but neither is it a completed project. We have come a long way from race-based chattel slavery. We have come a long way from signs over drinking fountains and riding the back of the bus. We have come a long way from preventing black people from sitting in the pews alongside white people.

But let’s not use racial progress as a reason to ignore the ways racism reinvents itself….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

Remembering Especially the Charleston 9 who died 4 years ago today in the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Local Paper) Emanuel AME church, shooting survivors form bonds with other traumatized houses of worship

Monday will mark four years since an angry young man with murderous intent slipped into Emanuel and headed for 12 people settling in for Bible study. He sat with them for about an hour, not speaking, until they shut their eyes for closing prayer.

Then he pulled out a gun.

Nine people died that night, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator who was sitting beside the killer.

And the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., a retired minister who led the study most Wednesdays.

And Myra Thomson, who led it for the first time that night.

And Susie Jackson, at 87 the oldest among them to die.

And her nephew Tywanza Sanders, the youngest at 26.

And their cousin Ethel Lance, the church’s sexton, a mother of five.

And the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, mother of four.

And the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, mother of three.

And Cynthia Graham Hurd, mother of none but mentor to hundreds in her decades as a beloved librarian.

Nine families, the survivors and the church’s entire congregation found themselves thrust into a journey through what the Bible calls “the valley of the shadow of death.” Then they relived their losses anew with each mass shooting in America, including the Pulse nightclub massacre almost one year to the day after their loved ones died.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(AP) Maine Becomes 8th State to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Maine legalized medically assisted suicide on Wednesday, becoming the eighth state to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with prescribed medication.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who had previously said she was unsure about the bill, signed it in her office.

Oregon was the first state to legalize such assistance, in 1997, and it took over a decade for the next state, Washington, to follow suit. While still controversial, assisted suicide legislation is winning increasing acceptance in the United States, and this year at least 18 states considered such measures.

Maine’s bill would allow doctors to prescribe terminally ill people a fatal dose of medication. The bill declares that obtaining or administering life-ending medication is not suicide under state law, thereby legalizing the practice often called medically assisted suicide.

The proposal had failed once in a statewide vote and at least seven previous times in the Legislature. The current bill

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, State Government, Theology

([London] Times) Frances Whitehead RIP

[Frances] Whitehead was fast and focused: her typing speed perhaps 80-90 words a minute on a manual typewriter. Phone calls were always brief, some would say terse. Yet those who knew her well encountered warmth and laughter. She brought a genuine care for people expressed through a huge correspondence, some 30 personal letters a day, over her own name or John Stott’s. A seminary library in San Salvador was named after her in 2006 to mark 50 years of service.

[John] Stott and Whitehead ran global endeavours on a shoestring, with help only from a study assistant. Using Charles Simeon’s phrase, Stott named the three “the happy triumvirate”.

In 2001, Archbishop George Carey conferred on Whitehead a Lambeth MA, for which she donned the Oxford gown and red silk. When news of this honour was announced in All Souls, it was greeted with a standing ovation.

Frances Whitehead was born in 1925 in Bovey Tracey, in Devon, the second child of Captain Claude Whitehead, and his wife, Evelyn Eastley. Her older sister, Pamela, died of leukaemia, aged eight. She would go on to Malvern Girls’ College, where she was head girl of Summerside House.

During the war she worked as a mathematician at the Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE) in Malvern and then, from 1951, she worked at the BBC, under the producer Mary Treadgold. She was a good horsewoman, and enjoyed the BBC riding club, hiring horses in Victoria, and riding up to the barracks of the Household Cavalry in Knightsbridge.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry

(AS) Wesley Smith–Canada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ Harvesting

How do you convince society to embrace euthanasia as a means of attaining utilitarian benefit — while also convincing yourselves that your culture remains both moral and compassionate? Once you get past the squeamishness of allowing doctors to kill patients, it isn’t that difficult: First, legalize euthanasia of the seriously ill and disabled. Once the community becomes comfortable with doctors committing homicide as a means of eliminating suffering, you next allow those who want to be killed to donate their organs. After all, they won’t need their livers anymore, so why not let others have them? Next, ensure that the potential of euthanasia to add to the organ supply becomes well known, both to normalize doctor-administered death and to induce people to believe they or a loved one might personally benefit from doctors killing the sick. Finally, over time, you expand euthanasia/organ donation eligibility to patients who are far from death, such as those with neuromuscular disabilities or psychiatric illnesses — better organs, don’t you know — justifying it as you go along with soothing words of respecting autonomy and preventing suffering.

Lest any reader believe that I am conjuring a paranoid dystopian fantasy, this very scenario consumed the medical and organ transplant ethics of the Netherlands and Belgium, nations in which patients with mental illnesses and other diseases are admitted to hospitals, killed by lethal injection, and then wheeled immediately into a surgical suite for organ harvesting. When I bring up these facts in domestic debates about assisted suicide, supporters of doctor-prescribed death sniff that the Netherlands and Belgium are not the United States, and that such crass utilitarian exploitation of the despairing would never happen here. But why? Once we deem certain categories of people to be killable — which is precisely what legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia does — it becomes all too easy to conclude, as Belgians and Netherlanders have, that since these patients want to die we might as well benefit societally from their deaths.

That is precisely what happened in Canada, the United States’ closest cultural cousin, and indeed, a country many Americans see as having more enlightened public policies than our own. In the three years since lethal injection euthanasia became legal in Canada, at least thirty people were organ harvested after being euthanized. That number may soon increase dramatically as the Canadian medical establishment has come out solidly in favor of letting people who die by euthanasia to also become organ donors.

A major ethics “Guidance” was just published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association that establishes euthanasia kill-and-harvest (my blunt term) protocols. It makes for a chilling read.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Remembering D-Day–The Poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(Guardian from 2014) Giles Fraser–If Christianity is a romance, helping those we love to die is an abandonment

One of the main things that many atheists (and some believers for that matter) fail to register about Christianity is that it’s not so much a metaphysical account of the nature of the universe, nor a codification of ancient moral principles, but primarily a romance, a sort of love story.

…the logic of the romantic is that the centre of gravity in human life has to be outside of oneself to be meaningful. If it’s all about my choices, then human life has withered to the dimensions of my paltry imagination. Some will believe the control held out by autonomy to be liberating. I think it’s about trying to limit our exposure to that which is beyond our control.

If I ever got so low as to be close to suicide, I don’t want anyone respecting my choice. I want them to come looking for me and to try and love or bully me out of it – even if I am lost to a settled decision for self-destruction.

I would be secretly very unhappy if my children didn’t attempt every trick in the book to overrule me. The thought that they would go “OK, Dad, it’s your choice” feels like a terrifying form of abandonment.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Suicide, Theology

(CEN) Peter Mullen–Music to end by

We’ve known for a long time that some funny things go on at funerals, and some of the funniest are the musical choices. When I was ordained – just after the Norman Conquest – the favourites were such as O God our help in ages past and Abide with me. But in a survey published a couple of weeks ago, these stalwarts were shown to have been supplanted by a pop version of Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie Mercury’s These are the days of our lives. Other popular choices were Robbie Williams’ Angels and the anthem of the Liverpool Kop You’ll never walk alone.

Though I can’t imagine why any Christian should request John Lennon’s nihilistic doggerel which goes:

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try,

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

That recent survey revealed that many – “mourners” doesn’t seem the right word somehow – want “something to make us giggle” when we are saying good bye – or hopefully au revoir – to our loved ones. An old lady in the parish of St Mary, Oldham, where I was once curate, asked for George Formby’s When I’m cleaning windows and a colleague told me of someone else who had If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake. So that’s what the messianic banquet is all about, is it?

I recall one particularly hilarious apocalypse at the crematorium – I’d better not say which crematorium in order to protect the innocent. I was warned that when you pushed the button at the end of the service there would be a nasty surprise. The mechanism was old and crabby. I pushed the button for the coffin to start its mechanical journey through the curtains and into the beyond. There was a great CHUNG! And everyone looked up, startled. But that little disturbance was only for starters…

The coffin was supposed to pass through the curtains and on to a trolley placed in the anteroom by the two cheerful necrophiles who acted as vergers. Supposed to. Only this time they had forgotten.

So off goes Uncle Fred through the crack of doom. And suddenly there’s an almighty CRASH! Followed by the loud utterance of two words from what I suppose we must call the other side – the second word was hell! The first word is altogether unmentionable! The congregation were paralysed, no doubt thinking that those two words were Uncle Fred’s first disapproving comments on the life of the world to come. I went behind. What a scene: imagine the dead Scrooge in his nightshirt, the vergers’ copy of The Sun having fallen across his face.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(Daily Monitor) The story of Anglican martyrs

The story of the Uganda martyrs is said to have started in January 1885 when members of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) asked the king for permission to leave as they were going to Kagei in Tanzania to have some letters sent back home.

They were officially seen off by the kingdom, with Katikkiro (Buganda’s prime minister) Mukasa presenting Alexander Mackay with gifts such as foodstuff to be used during the journey.

On January 30, 1885, Mackay, Robert P. Ashe and three native boys as their helpers set off for the journey to Kagei from the mission house in Busega. Three hour’s into the journey, they were attacked and ordered back to where they had come from without explanation.
Upon reaching near the CMS mission house where the Anglican martyrs’ church in Natete is today, the missionaries were released and their two servants taken away.

Mackay and Ashe went to see the prime minister and to seek an explanation as to why they had been forced back. Unfortunately, the prime minister was indifferent to their inquiries.
To get his attention, they sent him gifts hoping they would soften his heart. But the gifts were rejected.

On January 31, 1885, the three teenage boys who were with the two missionaries – Mark Kakumba, 16, Joseph Lugalama, 12, and Noah Serwanga, 19 – were killed at present-day Busega Anglican Martyr’s Church.
Their executioner, Mudalasi, a Muslim, first asked them if they admitted being followers of Jesus Christ before burning them.

Mudalasi went on to ask the boys if they believed they would resurrect if they died. Their answers angered him and he threatened to burn them. But they never relented in their resolve.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Clarence Thomas’s Dangerous Idea

In any other area, the left would look at a history like this and ask whether those formal convictions are the only thing that matters, or whether the eugenic past still exerts a structural influence on the present. And in any other area of policy Thomas’s point about how legal abortion appears, in the aggregate, to act in racist and eugenic ways would be taken as an indicator that something more than just emancipation is at work.

Yes, in their theoretical self-conception, pro-choice institutions are neutral custodians of the right to choose. In theory the genetic-screening industry exists only to provide information. In theory the high abortion rate in black America is just the result of countless individual decisions.

But in practice, liberal technocracy still has a “solve poverty by cutting birthrates” bias inherited from a population-panic age, and abortion-rights rhetoric still has a way of sliding into Malthusian fears about too many poor kids in foster care. In practice the medical system strongly encourages abortion in response to disability, with predictable results. In practice Planned Parenthood clinics are in the abortion, not the adoption business — and the disparate impact of abortion on black birthrates is shaped by that reality and others, not just by free choice.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

A Highly Recommended New Blog–Malia Dunn’s ‘Party of One, or Life after Death’

I am not going to spoil it for you by saying anything about it except go and check it out for yourself.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Theology

A Movie Scene for Memorial Day 2019 from Mr. Holland’s Opus

Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Movies & Television

In Pictures: The US Observes Memorial Day 2019

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Photos/Photography

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Patterns

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

–Amy Lowell (1874–1925)

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

A Message from the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs for Memorial Day 2019

As you and your family prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you remember the true meaning behind the day. Memorial Day is the day that we’ve set aside to pay tribute to our heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and all those who have served our Nation.

These heroes are not the only ones who have sacrificed. Behind each of these brave men and women are the families that shared their loved ones with us. The gave up holidays, milestones and achievements with their Veteran so that we can sleep soundly at night.

Because of this, NCA has installed “Tribute to the Fallen and Their Families” plaques within our cemeteries. These plaques are but a small remembrance of incredible service, but I hope they are a gentle reminder of how appreciative our Nation is for the sacrifices of not only our Veterans, but their families.

At NCA we have one sacred mission, to ensure no Veteran ever dies. It is said that we all die two deaths, the first when breath leaves you for the last time and the second, the last time someone speaks your name or tells your story. It is the second that we are committed to ensuring never happens and I task all of you with the same.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

Facts About the National Cemetery Administration

• NCA maintains 3.7 million graves with approximately 700,000 additional developed gravesites available: 418,000 available gravesites for casketed remains, 119,000 in ground gravesites for cremated remains and 162,000 columbarium niches for cremated remains

• NCA manages approximately 21,400 acres within its cemeteries. Approximately 57 percent isundeveloped and, along with available gravesites in developed acreage, has the potential toprovide approximately 5.3 million gravesites.
• Of the 136VA national cemeteries, 78 are open to all interments; 17 can accommodate crematedremains and the remains of family members for interment in the same gravesite as a previouslydeceased family member; and 41 will accomodate only interments of family members in thesamegravesite as a previously deceased family member.

• Since 1973, when VA managed 82 national cemeteries, annual interments in VA nationalcemeteries have increased by more than 366 percent, from 36,400 to 135,306 in FY 2018. Interments are expected to increase annually until the year 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces

More Poetry for Memorial Day: Tomas Tranströmer’s The Half-Finished Heaven

From here:

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Music For Memorial Day: If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Theodore O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Dead”

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow’s strife
The warrior’s dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(CT) Retired General Roger Brady–Memorial Day: For What Shall We Live?

Most Americans will never serve in the military—actually less than one percent of our population do so. And even among those of us who do, very, very few of us are asked to give that last full measure of devotion. So what is the question for us on this day as we remember those Americans who died on our behalf? I believe that question is —for what shall we live?

Whether or not we wear the uniform of our country, we all have a service to offer, a service to those ideals that reflect God’s universal truths and that our American ancestors captured in the formation of this country. When Jesus left this earth to take his place at the right hand of the Father, he left us, his bride, the church, to carry on his work. So when evil strikes in the form of a school shooting or when nature unleashes its fury and devastates property and lives, when children suffer, when people are hungry or homeless and ask “Where is God?!” we must be there and have them see him in us.

We must bring his comfort and his healing to this world. When we live lives of service to those around us, we honor the God who saved us and we honor all those who gave that last full measure to secure for us all the things we enjoy in this nation.

Someday we will find ourselves at the end of our lives looking back, and we will ask ourselves what it was all for. At that moment, we will all want to recall a life of service to something larger than ourselves, to children who needed our teaching and our example of service, to people whom we gave a hand up in time of need, to friends and colleagues whom we comforted in times of sorrow, lives with whom we shared the many physical and spiritual blessings that have been bestowed on us. If we live that life of service, we will have fulfilled the challenge of the Savior when he said, “Whatever you did for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

So on Memorial Day, and every day, we need to ask ourselves, for what shall we live? How are we doing at fulfilling not just the ideals of our American forefathers but those universal values set in place by the one who made us in his image, who sent his only begotten son to secure our salvation, the one who “created us in him to do good works?”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Military / Armed Forces, Theology

Poetry for Memorial Day–Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

A Great NBC Story for Memorial Day–Nationwide Vet Centers Help Combat Veterans Readjust To Everyday Life

At Vet Centers across the U.S., part of the federal Veterans Administration, combat veterans and their families can get help through readjustment counseling, talk-therapy and activities. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez travels to Spokane, Washington, where grateful service members say therapist Dave Baird changed their lives.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology

In Flanders Fields for Memorial Day 2019

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serveKSH.

P.S. The circumstances which led to this remarkable poem are well worth remembering:

It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrea had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: “I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.” The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer. Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrea composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: “The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.” Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

(CEN) Richard Bewes RIP– A man with a Bible in his pocket and Jesus in his heart

Christian leaders from across the world responded with warm tributes to the news of Prebendary Richard Bewes’ peaceful release from months of suffering from cancer at 6.25pm on Friday 9 May at his home in Virginia Water, surrounded by Timothy, Wendy, Stephen and his wife Pam.

A child of the East African Revival in the 1930s, he treasured his African roots and was the UK chairman of African Enterprise for 32 years. The son of missionary parents, Canon Cecil and Mrs Sylvia Bewes, he was born in 1934 in Nairobi and spent his first five years in what became (over 40 years later) the library of St Andrew College of Theology and Development in Kabare, founded by Archbishop David Gitari in 1977.

The family moved then to Weithaga where — along with his two brothers and sister — he had ‘the most tranquil upbringing a child could have’ on the lower slopes of Mt Kenya.

He told the story of how he first experienced revival as a child to the sound of thousands of African voices singing, in his most recent and final book Under the Thorn Tree – when Revival comes.

Coming to England at the age of 13, he was educated at Marlborough College, (and Iwerne Minster Camps), Emmanuel College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He was ordained by Bishop Chavasse of Rochester in 1959 and served a six-year curacy under Herbert Cragg at Christ Church, Beckenham. Then successively he was vicar of St Peter’s, Harold Wood, Emmanuel, Northwood and finally successor to Michael Baughen as vicar of All Souls, Langham Place.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(AP) Washington is 1st state to allow composting of human bodies

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains.

It allows licensed facilities to offer “natural organic reduction,” which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil in a span of several weeks.

Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.

“It gives meaning and use to what happens to our bodies after death,” said Nora Menkin, executive director of the Seattle-based People’s Memorial Association, which helps people plan for funerals.

Supporters say the method is an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide and particulates into the air, and conventional burial, in which people are drained of their blood, pumped full of formaldehyde and other chemicals that can pollute groundwater, and placed in a nearly indestructible coffin, taking up land.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Secularism

A NYT Review of Jennifer Berry Hawes’ New Book on the Charleston 9 and the Mother Emmanuel Massacre

Hawes is a poised writer and a patient observer who trains her focus on the present. She gestures briefly to Charleston’s role as the epicenter of the nation’s slave trade (“as the Civil War approached almost three in four white families here had owned slaves”) and the long history of attacks on black churches, including Emanuel, which was first burned to the ground in 1822. Her primary interest is in the lives of the survivors and the families of the victims, “the people who will live this story forever.”

For most, trauma begat trauma: health problems, even sudden deaths. One widower lost 60 pounds and became unable to return to work. Bitter divisions flared. Eleven months after the shooting, Sharon Risher and Nadine Collier, two daughters of Ethel Lance, one of Roof’s victims, couldn’t even agree on a headstone for their mother. When Risher finally had one erected over the grave, Collier installed her own version directly in front of it. At one point, according to the author, Risher felt it was more likely that she might forgive Dylann Roof than her sister.

Even those who fought to return to some semblance of normalcy found that their lives had become uncomfortably public. Private people felt forced into activism and advocacy even as the shootings had left them adrift — and they felt spiritually abandoned by their church (which itself became mired in controversy after donations went missing).

Roof remains a shadowy figure in the narrative (see the journalist and critic Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s Pulitzer Prize-winning profile for a more detailed look at his life and radicalization). He is not even named at first, referred to only as “a young white man, lean of frame…”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

Sunday Food for Thought from an Epitaph

From there:

Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me.

(Shared by yours truly in a talk to high school graduating seniors this morning).

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals

(Premier) Paul Blackham–Richard Bewes (1934-2019) RIP: An outstanding preacher who loved the Word of God

Richard Bewes was one of the most outstanding preachers, Bible teachers and Church leaders of our age.

Through his books, sermons, hymns and video series he opened up the Bible to show us the Lord Jesus and the great adventure of Church life with him.

Richard was most of all a mighty preacher. Others gave good lectures on the Bible, full of accurate information and solid content, but Richard’s sermons were always so much more than that. He worked so hard at getting the Bible right and would never be satisfied until that truth was shown off in bright, warm and living colours.

He was loved by so many because he cared about people so much. Many of us were drawn into Church life because Richard spoke with integrity, compassion and warmth. He was always looking above and beyond the current fads and conflicts to the Kingdom of God over all the empires and ages. He loved the book of Daniel because it portrays the Kingdom as a stone that becomes a mountain and covers the whole world. He always lifted our vision to the heroic and colourful characters of Church history, all over the world, on every continent. No one could tell stories the way Richard did!

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry