Category : Death / Burial / Funerals

Theologian R C Sproul, RIP

When Reformed theologian and Ligonier Ministries founder R. C. Sproul was once asked what he wanted written on his tombstone, he replied cheekily, “I told you I was sick.”

That was in 2015, after the esteemed teacher and author’s health declined severely following a stroke. This December, the 78-year-old was hospitalized and was forced to rely on ventilator support to breathe during his 12-day stay, due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He died on Thursday.

“His tombstone wouldn’t be able to hold the words of what he’s meant to so many,” tweeted Kansas pastor Gabriel Hughes. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Now great is your reward.”

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Posted in Adult Education, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Theology

(NYT) Raphaël Louigene and his burial team, tending to Haiti’s Dead

Like the country itself, Burial Road stretches between those who have everything and those with nothing. Even modest funeral parlors offer elaborate services starting at $1,100 — far beyond the means of most Haitians, who live on $2 a day or less.

No matter how rich in love they may be, most people can’t pay those fees. And so, the bodies of their sons and mothers wait here so long that their faces melt, their skin unravels. They are stacked one atop another in gruesome, wet piles that resemble medieval paintings of purgatory.

The men who have finally come to their rescue aren’t friends or relatives. They don’t know their individual stories. But they recognize poverty.

“They didn’t have a chance,” says Raphaël Louigene, the burial team’s stocky, soft-spoken leader. “They spent their lives in misery, they died in misery.”

Mr. Louigene and the other men work for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a charitable organization started in 2000 to help the country’s poorest.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Pastoral Theology, Poverty

(China.Org.Cn) Some cemeteries in Shanghai yesterday offer cash incentives to convert cremation ashes into “life crystal”

The life crystal subsidy marks the latest effort by local civil affairs authorities to prevent traffic congestion for the winter solstice.

The cost of making one “life crystal” is 998 yuan (US$155), and a 400 yuan subsidy is offered as an incentive for families who sign an agreement to visit cemeteries at non-peak times.

“‘Life crystal’ serves as an indication or permanent reminder which allows people to observe traditional mourning at home,” said Wei Chao, deputy director of the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center affiliated to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

“In the past, people didn’t have a medium if they wanted to pay tribute to the deceased at home, and by using this practice we hope to encourage them to avoid peak times when they visit cemeteries,” said Wei.

“The crystal is equal to cremation ashes as Chinese people don’t want to have urns at home.”

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Posted in China, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture

(TCT) Robert Royal–Memento Mori – and More

When you reach a certain age, you start to reflect on the end, but something like this makes it real. You not only don’t have a young person’s sense of invulnerability any longer, but you know in the most concrete terms that the end will come – and that you have to prepare for how to meet it. This is not solely a Christian concern, by the way. Classical scholars have come to realize how much several schools of ancient philosophy were really something like spiritual direction. In the Phaedo, Plato reports Socrates as saying “those who do philosophy right are preparing to die.”Among the many things we’ve lost in the meltdown of Catholic culture in the last half-century is attention to the most important end-of-life-question: how to die. It’s much more than a decision whether to treat or not to treat. One of my patron saints, Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), after a life of intense intellectual activity – combating Protestant errors, trying to mediate in the Galileo case, and writing serious theological works including a highly influential Catechism – towards the end of his life “now free from public business,” composed The Art of Dying Well.

In the modern world, we’re supposed to know that thinking about death is morbid. Bellarmine, the heir to both pagan and Christian wisdom, knew differently: “what folly can be imagined greater than to neglect that Art, on which depend our highest and eternal interests; whilst on the other hand we learn with great labor, and practice with no less ardor, other almost innumerable arts, in order either to preserve or to increase perishable things?”

There’s probably no clearer indication of the distance between traditional wisdom and our age than this:

Now everyone will admit, that the “Art of dying Well” is the most important of all sciences; at least everyone who seriously reflects, how after death we shall have to give an account to God of everything we did, spoke, or thought of, during our whole life, even of every idle word; and that the devil being our accuser, our conscience a witness, and God the Judge, a sentence of happiness or misery everlasting awaits us.

 

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Roman Catholic

(The Australian) Euthanasia laws passed in Victoria’s upper house

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

Visibly emotional government MPs including Jaala Pulford, Jaclyn Symes, Cesar Melhem all embraced in the wake of the vote, which occurred in front of a packed public gallery where pro-euthanasia advocates including Andrew Denton, Dr Sally Cockburn sat alongside pro-life campaigners including Australian Christian Lobby Victorian chief executive Dan Flynn.

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

The scheme, which is expected to come into play by 2019 will grant terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months the ability to choose when they die.

The government has not yet released details on the lethal formula that will be given to patients, but has drafted the plan in which the drugs will be issued to patients in a locked box to which only they have the key.

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

Food for Thought from the TEC Bishop of Dallas reflecting on a recent “advert of the Hemlock Society”

I recently read an advert of the Hemlock Society, presenters at a diocesan convention, believe it or not. “We’ve moved far past these primitive notions of a God ruling life – perhaps now we can see how in such cases taking life enhances quality life – and our powers to affect this may be God’s will in our time – who is he anyway to command life and death – our methods are so pastoral now… .” The soft offer of half-truths to an opposite end – to learn whose soft voice that really is where spiritual safety lies. To hear God’s voice plainly as His, even in the modern hall of mirrors – what if that is the higher wisdom? To reject the soft, spiritual, skeptical voice, Girma Wormtongue’s, may be the key to Christian ethics.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

On the Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Take the Time to read it once more

From here:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General

My Favorite Veteran’s Story of the last Few Years–An ESPN piece on the Saratoga WarHorse Program

Saratoga Springs, N.Y., famous for its historic racetrack, is among the most idyllic places in America. But on a recent fall weekend, not far from the track, horses were serving a different mission: retired thoroughbreds were recruited to help returning veterans at Song Hill Farm. A group from the US Army 2nd Battalion, 135th infantry, united in grief over the death of a fellow solider, gathered for the first time in five years to be part of Saratoga Warhorse, a three-day program that pairs veterans with horses. Tom Rinaldi reports the emotional story of the veterans, paired with their horses, undergoing a rebirth of trust and taking a first step toward healing.

Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex–KSH.

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

An NBC story for Veterans Day 2017–‘A Soldier’s Child’ Foundation Helps Children Cope With Military Losses

The foundation was started nearly 10 years ago by Daryl Mackin, a retired Navy cook, after his 8-year-old neighbor’s father was killed in battle.

Watch it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of All the Faithful Departed

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for All Hallows Eve

Lord Christ, your saints have been the lights of the world in every generation: Grant that we who follow in their footsteps may be made worthy to enter with them into that heavenly country where you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen

-BCP 1979

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

(Scientific American) Dissolve the Dead? Controversy Swirls around Liquid Cremation

Proponents note that traditional cremation is trending upward in the U.S. In 2015 more people in this country were burned than put in the ground for the first time, according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association. This fad is driven in part by price: A fire cremation usually costs less than a third of a burial, according to an industry report by market research firm IBISWorld. It also saves on some natural resources; a burial requires land as well as the stone, steel, cloth and wood used to make the casket and gravestone.

Some see alkaline hydrolysis—versions of which go by the names biocremation, aquamation and resomation—as the next big thing for those who want to make an environmentally friendly exit.

The technique has its origins in an 1888 patent for making fertilizer and gelatin, which describes dissolving animal parts in an alkaline solution such as potassium hydroxide. In the 1990s two researchers began disposing of lab animals this way at Albany Medical College in New York State. Their work informed the construction of the first machine that could handle a single human body, built by a company called WR2 and first used in the Mayo Clinic’s anatomical bequest program in Rochester, Minn., in 2006.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Eschatology, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Secularism

(Diocese of Melbourne) Please reject euthanasia: Church to Victorian Government

Melbourne Anglicans have pleaded with the Victorian Government not to legalise medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia just before the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed in the lower house of the State Parliament.

The church’s synod discussed the bill on 19 October at their annual synod at St Paul’s Cathedral as a few blocks away Victorian MPs debated the bill in State Parliament.

Medical ethicist Dr Denise Cooper-Clarke told the synod the bill’s proposed safeguards were inadequate, that it was inherently discriminatory, and that improved palliative care was a much safer and more compassionate way to address “bad deaths”.

She said the bill would fundamentally change attitudes to suicide at a time when the Government was trying to reduce youth suicide.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) Liquefaction, An Alternative to Burial and Cremation, Gains in popularity

What do you want done with your body after you die?

It is an unnerving but important question, and for most Americans there have long been only two obvious choices: burial or cremation.

But a third option, a liquefaction process called by a variety of names —flameless cremation, green cremation or the “Fire to Water” method — is starting togain popularity throughout the United States.

This week, California became the 15th state to outline commercial regulations for the disposal of human remains through the method, chemically known asalkaline hydrolysis.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Secularism

(NPR) A Mortician Explores Cultures’ Many Paths For ‘Sacred Transition’ Of Death

In 1980, only 6 percent of Americans were cremated. Now, just a generation later, 50 percent of Americans are choosing cremation. But unlike the intimacy of the experience in Japan, cremation in the U.S. is still quite industrial.

That’s one reason why, when we visited Undertaking LA, we were the rare guests that Caitlin Doughty ushered into the brick, factory-like space that contains two cremation machines running at full blast. There, we met Mike Munoz, the crematory operator, who handles first the bodies, and then the ashes. At 22 years old, he is committed to spending his life caring for the dead. He offered to open the door to show us one cremation that was nearly complete. It was a surprisingly peaceful sight: just a hint of bones, white as lace, lit by slowly undulating flames. “It’s beautiful,” said Doughty. “You don’t want to be the one who says a cremating body is beautiful, but cultures all around the world have open air pyres because it’s a sacred transition for many people.”

Caitlin Doughty, is just 32, but is accustomed to thinking ahead. She wants a green burial. Dust to dust. Unless there’s a way to be laid out above ground.

“The model for this is the Tibetan sky burial, where when someone dies they are laid out to be eaten by vultures. Hence the name “sky burial.” The Buddhist idea is that your body isn’t worth anything to you anymore, so why are you trying to hold on to it? Why don’t you give it back to other animals to take up into the sky? And I think that’s gorgeous.”

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Posted in Buddhism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths