Category : Death / Burial / Funerals

(WSJ) Tevi Troy–A Minyan in the Time of Social Distancing

Losing a parent is always difficult, especially as important financial and religious arrangements must be made during a time of intense grief. A global pandemic doesn’t help. But when my mother died on March 3, my family still had no idea how difficult it would be to stay safe while still honoring her in the Jewish tradition.

The Jewish response to death is communal. The local community comes together to support the mourners, who open up their home for a week of shiva. During this time the kaddish, or Jewish prayer for the dead, is recited at services three times a day. The mourner then may leave the home but remains obligated to say the kaddish three times daily for 11 months. According to Jewish law, these obligations must be fulfilled in the presence of a minyan, or prayer quorum of 10 men over the age of 13.

The current coronavirus crisis creates a challenge for those wishing to adhere to these Jewish mourning customs, especially in light of Judaism’s prioritization of public and individual health over ritual obligation. In Maryland, where I live, synagogues closed their doors last weekend to services and other community activities. In New Jersey, communities could not have communal prayer services in the home or even outdoors. In the interest of safety, similar changes are occurring throughout the country.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Reuters) ‘There are no funerals:’ Death in quarantine leaves nowhere to grieve

Struck down by coronavirus at the age of 83, the long life of Alfredo Visioli ended with a short ceremony at a graveyard near Cremona, his hometown in northern Italy.

“They buried him like that, without a funeral, without his loved ones, with just a blessing from the priest,” said his granddaughter Marta Manfredi who couldn’t attend. Like most of the old man’s family – like most of Italy – she was confined to her home.

“When all this is over,” she vows, “we will give him a real funeral.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Italy, Religion & Culture

(Vice) CDC Tells Morticians to Livestream Funerals

Even in grief, the rules of hand hygiene and social isolation apply.

That’s what thousands of funeral directors learned Monday when they joined a Facebook livestream to hear firsthand from the U.S. Centers for Disease, Control, and Prevention how coronavirus will change how Americans die and are buried.

The new disease, which has killed more than 6,500 people worldwide since it emerged in China in late 2019, has put an end to social gatherings around the world. In the United States, the CDC advised organizers to cancel or postpone any events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks across the country. This extends to “large funerals,” said David Berendes, an epidemiologist with the CDC. (It also applies to weddings, which should also be canceled.)

Other countries are grappling with similar issues. In Italy, which has Europe’s largest elderly population, 300 people died on Monday alone, according to the New York Times. Morgues are overflowing and funerals are illegal after the country banned civil and religious ceremonies outright to stop the spread of the disease.

Berendes recommended digital solutions to the mortician’s dilemma: “If livestreaming and limiting events to immediate family is possible, we encourage that,” he said. For those who do visit funeral homes, Berendes recommends having hand sanitizer at the ready and staggering funeral services so that different families don’t overlap.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine

(Christian Today) New Christian coalition launched to support the bereaved

A new coalition of Christian organisations has been launched to support churches of all denominations in caring for the bereaved.

Loss and HOPE was launched last week at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in recognition of an increasing openness in society to speak about death and bereavement.

The coalition brings together the Ataloss.org website with the Church of England, Care for the Family and HOPE Together.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “Over the last few years in this country, there has been a real opening up of conversations about bereavement in our society.

“We’re beginning to realise the huge impact that losing a loved one can have on every area of a person’s life. As a result, increasing numbers of people are likely to reach out for help to process loss – and this is presenting the Church with a special opportunity for outreach to our communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(DM) Church of England to launch a ‘Google Maps for graves’ within five years enabling family historians to search for burial records and locations in an online database

Tim Viney, owner and managing director of Altlantic Geomatics, told MailOnline: ‘Across the country there are thousands of burial grounds, each with important assets, buildings and infrastructure.

‘These valuable assets, in particular memorials and gravestones, must be maintained, records kept of where they are, what they look like.

‘The estimated 35,000,000 burial records relating to the Church of England burial grounds are a huge resource yet they are currently difficult to access.

‘We are delighted to be working with the Church of England with whom we propose a systematic approach across the country to map their churchyards.

‘Integrating the map with images of the memorials and the historic records will protect the records but also make them accessible online.

‘We are in discussion with potential partners to source investment to facilitate a rapid deployment across the country.

‘This is certainly an exciting and challenging project”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Sightings) Russell Johnson–Film Resurrections and the Denial of Death

The interesting question isn’t why so many filmmakers rely on the resurrection trope, but what effect this has on viewers and what this trope says about American culture in the twenty-first century.

In the 1973 book The Denial of Death, anthropologist Ernest Becker argues that human beings across cultures find ways of rejecting the idea that death has the last word. Societies construct myths, develop cultural practices, and invest in collective pursuits to overcome the anxiety about the inevitability of death. Ancient Greek codes of honor, Chinese practices of ancestor-veneration, and the construction of pyramids and ziggurats in the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica are all, according to Becker, instances of the same human psychological impulse to use collective meaning-making to deny the meaninglessness of death.

On Becker’s theory, religious conceptions of reincarnation or the afterlife are not exceptions to a general acceptance of death. Rather, these religious beliefs are particularly clear, codified expressions of the near-universal human phenomenon of rejecting and repressing the finality of death. In the absence of religious convictions, human beings undertake “immortality projects” and construct socially shared “illusions” to meet their psychological needs. Ever since the decline of religion as the unifying structure of meaning in Western societies—Nietzsche’s famous “death of God”—film and other art forms have increasingly facilitated these shared illusions.

We don’t need to agree with Becker’s more sweeping claims to recognize that he’s right about the pervasiveness of the human tendency to deny the finality of death, whether consciously or not. Seen through this lens, the resurrection trope in popular film and television serves a social purpose. Even if many viewers of these films don’t actually believe that people come back to life, repeated exposure to resurrections and pseudo-resurrections functions as a sort of secular ritual of denying death.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Wesley Smith–Death On Demand Comes To Germany

…even I never expected full-bore death on demand to arrive in the West for another decade. I was too optimistic. A recent ruling from Germany’s highest court has cast right-to-die incrementalism aside and conjured a fundamental right both to commit suicide and to receive assistance in doing it. Moreover, the decision has explicitly rejected limiting the right to people diagnosed with illnesses or disabilities. As a matter of protecting “the right of personality,” the court decreed that “self-determined death” is a virtually unlimited fundamental liberty that the government must guarantee to protect “autonomy.” In other words, the German people now have the right to kill themselves at any time and for any reason. From the decision (published English version, my emphasis):

The right to a self-determined death is not limited to situations defined by external causes like serious or incurable illnesses, nor does it only apply in certain stages of life or illness. Rather, this right is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence. . . . The individual’s decision to end their own life, based on how they personally define quality of life and a meaningful existence, eludes any evaluation on the basis of general values, religious dogmas, societal norms for dealing with life and death, or consideration of objective rationality. It is thus not incumbent upon the individual to further explain or justify their decision; rather their decision must, in principle, be respected by state and society as an act of self-determination.

The court wasn’t done. The right to suicide also includes a right to assist suicide:

The right to take one’s own life also encompasses the freedom to seek and, if offered, utilize assistance provided by third parties for this purpose. . . . Therefore, the constitutional guarantee of the right to suicide corresponds to equally far-reaching constitutional protection extended to the acts carried out by persons rendering suicide assistance.

Read it all.

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

(SA) Bishop Ivan Lee RIP–“We have lost a great champion for the gospel”

“We have lost a great champion for the gospel, for evangelism and for healthy churches engaged in ministry and mission,” said Archbishop Glenn Davies. “Our Diocese has lost a faithful bishop and teacher of God’s word. I have lost a good friend and loyal colleague. Virginia and her family have lost a loving husband, father and grandfather.”

Bishop Lee was the first Bishop of Chinese descent in Sydney Diocese and only the second in Australia. He served a record 17 years as Bishop of Western Sydney after his consecration in 2003. Even though his successor, Gary Koo, was appointed last year, he continued to serve as Bishop for Evangelism and Church Growth until he was forced to go into hospital in January.

Speaking to Southern Cross last year, Bishop Lee reflected on the fact that the cancer had been in remission after his initial operation and chemotherapy in 2015, until it reappeared in 2019.

“That’s a pretty good run,” he said at the time, adding that people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer “typically last months, not years… so it’s quite a blessing (to be given that time)”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(NYT) With 4 Deaths in Iran and More Cases on 3 Continents, Fears of Coronavirus Pandemic Rise

An alarming surge of new coronavirus cases outside China, with fears of a major outbreak in Iran, is threatening to transform the contagion into a global pandemic, as countries around the Middle East scrambled to close their borders and continents so far largely spared reported big upticks in the illness.

In Iran, which had insisted as recently as Tuesday that it had no cases, the virus may now have reached most major cities, including Tehran, and has killed at least four people, according to health officials. Already, cases of travelers from Iran testing positive for the virus have turned up in Canada and Lebanon.

The number of cases also soared in South Korea, with the sudden spread tied to a secretive church where hundreds of congregants attended services with numerous people infected with the virus.

The United States now has 34 cases, with more expected, and Italy experienced a spike from three cases to 17 and ordered mandatory quarantine measures.

Read it all.


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Posted in China, Death / Burial / Funerals, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(EF) Spanish parliament starts the final process to decriminalise euthanasia

The first official debate to finally pass the draft law to decriminalise euthanasia, proposed by the social democrat party PSOE, took place this week in the Spanish Parliament.

It has the support of the majority of the parties. The draft law, inspired by the Dutch and Belgian model, proposes that those who suffer a serious and incurable or disabling illness, with unbearable suffering could ask for euthanasia.

First, the patient and a doctor will have to agree, afterwards a second medical opinion is needed, then the patient will have to confirm his decision two weeks later, and 15 days later it can be made. The process will not last more than a month.

Furthermore, the law foresees the creation of a Commission for Control and Evaluation in each region, in addition to a registry of health professionals who decide to be conscientious objectors. Doctors who allege this cause must do so in writing.

The draft law must now go through the Health Commission, go back again to the Parliament and, finally, to the Senate. A process that could be resolved before summer.

Read it all.

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

***Bishop Festo Kivengere’s account of the Martyrdom of Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum

In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970’s when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, “We live today and are gone tomorrow” was the common phrase.

We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.

As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, “How do you prepare yourself for death?” Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)….
It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.

…we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.

The archbishop’s arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.

For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum’s Memorial Service. She said, “This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn’t it?” And as a matter of fact, it did.

More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin’s guards to pack St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the “Martyr’s Song,” which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, “Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord.” They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.

–Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Janani Luwum

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

(Wired) The Future of Death Tech Has No Rules—Yet

When a company asks permission to pulverize a corpse—to freeze a body solid, then shake it till it shatters—how, exactly, should the government respond? Last September, Derek Schmidt, the attorney general for Kansas, sat down to ponder the specifics. Interest in a new process for disposing of the dead had trickled across the state; it was up to Schmidt to say whether the technology was even legal.

Schmidt’s analysis began on YouTube, where he landed on an animated demonstration that broke down the new mortuary method, known as promession, into steps: First, cadavers are cryogenically frozen; then they’re vibrated into bits, freeze-dried to get the moisture out, and filtered into an urn. In theory, promession would release significantly fewer emissions than fire cremation, which is responsible for 270,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. If true, that would make promession a big draw for the environmentally conscious. Schmidt cross-referenced each step in the promession process against Kansas law in the hopes of answering what turns out to be a highly consequential question: Is vibration into bits a type of cremation, and therefore a legal form of disposition?

Two months later, Schmidt issued his decision. Promession, he announced, “would not meet the requirements of a cremation process as set forth” in state law. His reasoning reads a bit like science fiction and a bit like a rabbi’s parsing of biblical law. Schmidt argued, for instance, that cremation requires “the separation of flesh from bone by the destruction of the flesh.” Promession certainly could be said to destroy the flesh, but the crystallization process doesn’t really separate it from the bone. In that sense, Schmidt concluded that Kansas could not treat it as cremation.

Schimdt’s predicament is not unique. In the last few years, state officials across the country have been forced to map a range of futuristic death technologies onto the creaky regulations of a prior age. Most state disposition laws are antiquated, premised on narrow definitions of “cremation” and “burial” that leave new technologies like promession without the legal grounds to establish themselves. But a few states—Kansas among them—have seized the opportunity. In a bid to attract death-tech companies, and perhaps a piece of the $2 billion fire cremation industry, they’ve been revamping regulations.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Crux) Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops call assisted suicide plan ‘deeply troubling’

As Canada’s government works to expand the criteria for individuals seeking medically assisted suicide, the head of Canada’s Catholic bishops has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his government has failed to provide an impartial consideration of the matter.

“Suffering and death are indeed terrifying and the instinct to flinch from pain is universal. But euthanasia and assisted suicide are not the answer,” wrote Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter dated January 31.

“We strongly urge the Government of Canada, before proceeding further, to undertake a more extensive, thorough, impartial, and prolonged consultation on the question, in order to ensure all pertinent factors – social, medical, and moral – are carefully and thoroughly considered,” he continued.

The letter is in response to the Trudeau’s government’s efforts to extend the categories of individuals who are allowed to seek medical support to end their lives, following a ruling from the Superior Court of Quebec saying it is unconstitutional only to allow the practice to individuals who are already near death.

Gagnon, who is also the archbishop of Winnipeg, called the move “deeply troubling.”

Read it all.

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

(Kate Bowler) The Burden of Love

Says Lewis, “There is nothing we can do with suffering, except to suffer it.”

We know that advice from other people can sound a lot like well-meaning white noise. Or like a line separating the grieving from everybody else in the normal world. It makes me wish we learned a bit more from cultures who carve out space for mourning, like the Jewish custom of “sitting Shiva” where friends and family gather for seven days together in silence. Or how people in Greece and Portugal encourage widows to wear black for months, creating a reminder for others of their loss.

We all need a bit of permission to allow ourselves time and space to feel the weight of loss, and move through it in our own way. My friend and former cello teacher lost her husband last year, and the week after the funeral, to the chagrin of those thought she should be taking a break, there she was at the piano accompanying the services as she always did. That was her way of living through her loss, with keys under her fingers, helping others the way she always did.

So my dears, what can then be said of grief except that is the burden of love? It can’t be defined or drawn, only suffered. But what must be said, what must be given, is the permission to feel it. All of it. Not as a state, but as a process. No one can tell you what that process must be for you, just now. So gently, gently, let it lead you through.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(NYT) George Steiner, Prodigious Literary Critic, Dies at 90

George Steiner, a literary polymath and man of letters whose voluminous criticism often dealt with the paradox of literature’s moral power and its impotence in the face of an event like the Holocaust, died on Monday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by his son, Dr. David Steiner.

An essayist, fiction writer, teacher, scholar and literary critic — he succeeded Edmund Wilson as senior book reviewer for The New Yorker from 1966 until 1997 — Mr. Steiner both dazzled and dismayed his readers with the range and occasional obscurity of his literary references.

Essential to his views, as he avowed in “Grammars of Creation,” a book based on the Gifford Lectures he delivered at the University of Glasgow in 1990, “is my astonishment, naïve as it seems to people, that you can use human speech both to love, to build, to forgive, and also to torture, to hate, to destroy and to annihilate.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, France, History, Judaism, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the [four] Dorchester chaplains

Holy God, who didst inspire the Dorchester chaplains to be models of steadfast sacrificial love in a tragic and terrifying time: Help us to follow their example, that their courageous ministry may inspire chaplains and all who serve, to recognize thy presence in the midst of peril; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

(ABC Nightline) Important but difficult Viewing– The Children of Auschwitz: Survivors Return 75 years after Liberation

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Germany, History, Judaism, Military / Armed Forces, Poland, Religion & Culture, Violence

(CNS) The Roman Catholic faith of Kobe Bryant RIP

In 2015, the basketball player told GQ that after the matter was resolved, he decided to shed some superficiality he felt he had built up in his public persona.

“What I came to understand, coming out of Colorado, is that I had to be me, in the place where I was at that moment.”

Bryant said it was a priest who helped him to make some important personal realizations during the ordeal.

Describing his fear of being sent to prison for a crime he believed he had not committed, Bryant told GQ that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Roman Catholic, Sports

Patricia Hamill “Pat” (Teale) French (1926 – 2020) RIP

Patricia “Pat” Hamill Teale French, 93, of Woodstock, Virginia died Friday, January 10, 2020 at her home.

Pat was born October 17, 1926, in Baltimore, Maryland, the first of two children of the late Gladys Adelaide Hamill Teale and Edward Painter Teale. She was a member of the Class of 1943 of Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond, Virginia and attended Harcum Junior College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. After college, she worked in a division office of AT&T Long Lines in Washington, DC, where she met her future husband Warren Ballinger French, Jr.

Pat’s greatest pride was her family. She married Warren on September 17, 1949 in Silver Spring, Maryland. In the fall of 2019, they celebrated their 70th year of marriage. They were the parents of four children. Pat was predeceased by her son Warren Ballinger French, III, who passed away April 19, 1981. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her three remaining children and their spouses: Anne Elizabeth French Dalke and Jeffrey Alan Dalke of Philadelphia and Edinburg; Cynthia Ellen French Mullen and Wesley Grigg Mullen, Jr. of Rockbridge Baths; and Christopher Edward French and Rhonda Harris French of Woodstock. Pat is also survived by her grandchildren and their spouses: Lena French Dalke and Sameer Gupta of Brooklyn; Lillian Stover Dalke and Angelina Lim of Brooklyn; Samuel Shaffer Dalke and Katharine Baratz Dalke of Harrisburg; Marian Ballinger Dalke and Elizabeth Nadia Pisarczyk of Philadelphia; Wesley Grigg Mullen, III and Accacia Max Mullen of Rockbridge Baths; Andrew French Mullen and Melissa Ann Falkenstern of Albuquerque; Rebecca Blythe French of Harrisonburg; Warren Ballinger French, II of Woodstock; and Stuart Teale French and Tiffany Marie French of Harrisonburg. Five great grandchildren also survive her: Naima Belle Dalke Gupta, Mahalia Vati Dalke Gupta, Andy Bo Tian Dalke-Lim, Julia Baratz Dalke, and Audrey French Dalke. She is also survived by her brother Robert “Bob” Edward Teale and his wife Carol Rogers Teale of Lincoln, Nebraska; her sisters-in-law Doris French, Emma Randel, Marian French, Ellen Fuller, Joyce French and Sally Weber; and her brother-in-law John Weber, and many, many nieces and nephews.

In addition to being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, Pat was an active supporter of her church and an advocate for her local community. She became a member of the Woodstock United Methodist Church in 1954, later served as a member of its Board of Trustees and the Administrative Council, and was active in the church’s Tape Ministry, Food Pantry, and Clothes Closet. She was a member of the Shenandoah Garden Club, where she served as corresponding secretary.
Pat’s love of children and reading led to her involvement in and support of libraries at the town, county, and state levels. She served on the Board of the Woodstock Library and was appointed by Virginia Governors Godwin and Dalton for five-year terms on the State Library Board of the Virginia State Library, serving as chairman for one year. Pat also worked to gain support of the Shenandoah County Supervisors for the creation of the Shenandoah County Library, which opened in 1985 and led to the creation of the Shenandoah County Library System. She served two terms on that board. Pat was also involved in the founding of the Shenandoah Community Foundation in 1999.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Harmon Family

On our Way to a Family Funeral in Virginia this Weekend

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Harmon Family

(GR) Any darkness to report? The cathedral dean (and bishop) who led St. John the Divine to relevancy

[Dean James] Morton was a liberal Protestant hero who led an Episcopal sanctuary that served as a Maypole around which activists of many kinds danced. However, his career was closely connected with an even more famous liberal Christian hero — Bishop Paul Moore — who was hiding secrets.

Read it all and the NYT article to which it refers.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(EF) TobyMac writes a song about the passing of his son

TobyMac, former member of DC Talk and an influential Hip Hop artist with seven solo albums, has written a song about the experience of losing a son.

“‘21 years’ is a song I wrote about the recent passing of my firstborn son, Truett Foster McKeehan. I loved him with all my heart. Until something in life hits you this hard, you never know how you will handle it”, the artist said on his Instagram account. He said he was thankful for all those who have surrounded his family with “love, starting with God’s”.

He and his wife Amanda have four other children.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Music, Theology

The Rev. Jerry Dubose RIP

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Post-Gazette) Buck Henry, ‘Graduate’ screenwriter who co-created ‘Get Smart,’ RIP

“The Graduate,” based on Charles Webb’s 1963 novella, remained their most enduring project. The film made a star of Dustin Hoffman, who played Benjamin Braddock, a college graduate who has an affair with his parents’ friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Mixing wry comedy, sexual drama and a soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel, the film captured the alienation and rebelliousness of the era and was later ranked No. 7 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American movies.

Much to his frustration, Henry shared his Oscar nomination for “The Graduate” with Calder Willingham, who had worked on previous attempts to adapt the novel and sued to receive partial credit for the screenplay.

The book provided much of the film’s dialogue — including the oft-quoted line “Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” — but it was Henry who devised the “plastics” exchange, in which a business associate of Benjamin’s parents offers career advice to the lost young man.

“I just want to say one word to you, just one word,” the businessman declares. “Plastics. … There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”

The suggestion neatly encapsulated what some viewers saw as the artificiality and materialism of older generations.

“I was trying to find a word that summed up a kind of stultifying, silly, conversation-closing effort of one generation to talk to another. Plastics was the obvious one,” Henry told the Orlando Sentinel in 1992. “I was embarrassed some years later. I got to know some people in the plastics business, and they were really nice.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Movies & Television

(NR) Yuval Levin–The Historian as Moralist: The remarkable life’s work of Gertrude Himmelfarb

The passing of Gertrude Himmelfarb, who died on December 30th at the age of 97, is a loss felt keenly by all who had the good fortune to know her.

To family and friends, she was known as Bea Kristol, and embodied character and decency, good humor, and good sense. To Americans with an interest in our country’s intellectual life, she might have been best known as the wife of Irving Kristol. This always suited her humility (let alone her pride in Irving), and you would surely gain some real insight into the aims of the original neoconservatives by reflecting on the fact that Irving Kristol’s wife was a scholar of Victorian England.

But as such a scholar — one whose life’s work spanned an amazing seven decades of wise, independent-minded, reliably fascinating, and brilliantly expressed historical analysis — Himmelfarb has never been sufficiently appreciated. There will no doubt be many remembrances of her unique mix of personal warmth and dignity in the days to come, from many who knew her far better than I did. But a reflection on the ambitions and significance of her work is very much in order too.

She was among the most important American historians of the last century. Her path-breaking work illuminating the intellectual life of 19th-century Britain not only helped transform our understanding of what the Victorians were up to but also provided a rich vocabulary for describing the place of the moral in the social and political lives of liberal societies. And in the process, she helped several generations of politically minded intellectuals in her own day understand themselves, their roles, and their goals more profoundly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Politics in General, Theology

The story behind the Longfellow poem that became a Hymn–I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, A Carol for the Despairing

Like we do every year, my parents took my brother and me to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit (which is no small feat at the end of November). The story is familiar and heartwarming, but the song they ended their production with struck me: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Set to music a few decades later, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written over Christmas of either 1863 or 1864, in the middle of the bloodiest war in American history.

The carol is not cotton candy; it is a beating heart, laid bare in seven stanzas with simple language. At the second-to-last verse, I noticed dimly that I had begun to cry; by the end of the song, my face was wet with tears.

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”

It isn’t quite right to call this a cynic’s carol, but in this verse it is a desperate and bitter one. It’s a carol from a man who has had the nature of the world uncovered before him. It’s one of the only carols that still rings true to me in 2018.

Like all good poets, with “Christmas Bells” Longfellow reached out across almost 155 years of history to take my hand.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(NYT Op-Ed) Esau McCaulley–The Bloody Fourth Day of Christmas

This feast suggests that things that God cares about most do not take place in the centers of power. The truly vital events are happening in refugee camps, detention centers, slums and prisons. The Christmas story is set not in a palace surrounded by dignitaries but among the poor and humble whose lives are always subject to forfeit. It’s a reminder that the church is not most truly herself when she courts power. The church finds her voice when she remembers that God “has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble,” as the Gospel of Luke puts it.

The very telling of the Christmas story is an act of resistance. This is how the biblical story functioned for my ancestors who gathered in the fields and woods of the antebellum South. They saw in the Christian narrative an account of a God who cared for the enslaved and wanted more for them than the whip and the chain. For them Christianity did not merely serve the disinherited — it was for the disinherited, the “weak things” that shamed the strong.

Christians believe that none of this suffering was in vain. The cries of the oppressed do not go forever unanswered.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents

We remember this day, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by the order of King Herod. Receive, we beseech thee, into the arms of thy mercy all innocent victims; and by thy great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish thy rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Children, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Stephen

We give thee thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to thy Son Jesus Christ, who standeth at thy right hand: where he liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer