The Tragic Death Of The Funeral

The Tragic Death Of The Funeral

Like most people, I don’t particularly relish encounters with death. But, welcome or not, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve clasped a woman’s hand as her breathing slowed, became sporadic, and finally ceased. Through the cramped hallways of an ancient farmhouse, down which no stretcher could be maneuvered, I helped heft the sheet-wrapped body of a family’s matriarch to carry her to the waiting hearse. When a small Oklahoma church mourned a member who’d fallen asleep at the wheel, late at night, early in life, I was there, thinking of the joyless “Joy the World” the band of believers had choked out the day before that December 26th funeral. In each of these situations, the death of the young or the old, there was within me a desire to lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, to shine a ray of life into the gloom of death.

Because of that desire, when I first heard about families opting to have a so-called “Celebration of Life” service for their departed loved ones, instead of a funeral, my interest was piqued. Perhaps here was a viable alternative. The name alone effuses a positive, uplifting appeal that “funeral” or “memorial service” can’t begin to match. Celebrations are good, right? And, life, well, who can possibly have any qualms about that? Perhaps this approach to confronting death, at least the ceremonial part of saying goodbye, would help alleviate some of the pain associated with, and expressed in, a more traditional rite. Maybe it was time to have a funeral for the funeral.

So what makes a Celebration of Life different? Rather than a focus upon the loss of a loved one, this service rewinds the present into the past, to draw the mourners back into the life lived by the deceased. It’s like a miniature, enacted biography of the person, with a focus upon those qualities, interests, and achievements that his family and friends found most endearing about him. Whereas a traditional funeral is structured around a liturgy, in this ceremony stories about the person—serious or lighthearted—take center stage. It is his funeral, after all, so shouldn’t it be about him?

Read on here.

 

Is Global Chaos The New Normal?

It’s a chaotic world out there. But we’d better get used to it; this may be the new normal.

The Middle East is in flames, not only Gaza but Syria, Iraq and Libya as well. Russia is massing troops on the border of Ukraine. Central Africa is a mess, as are Afghanistan and Pakistan. Parts of Mexico and Central America are ruled by criminal gangs and drug cartels. And those are merely the crises big enough to command front-page attention.

“This is historically unprecedented,” former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski told Foreign Policy magazine recently. “Huge swaths of global territory are dominated by populist unrest, anger and effective loss of state control.”

Brzezinski’s point wasn’t merely that disorder is loose in the world; that’s happened in earlier periods of war and revolution (think of Europe in the aftermath of World War I, for example). His point was that chaos is breaking out simultaneously in many regions, and that governments are less capable of meeting those challenges than before.

Moreover, in an age of instant communication, conflicts can spread more readily…

Read on at the Irishanglican’s Weblog.

 

World War I Soldier Survives Attack to Later Find Bullet in Bible

GMB 310714 WW1

‘I am sending in a parcel, my pocket Bible and three shrapnel bullets, of which the following is the story’.

These are the opening words of letter 28 year old George Hever Vinall sent to his parents in July 1917 which tells the story of how he survived an artillery attack at the Frond and later found a bullet from the attack lodged in his Bible. It stopped at the verse in Isaiah which reads, ‘I will preserve thee’. George Vinall was so convinced that God had saved him, he became a Bible translator after the war.

Do read on here. The whole letter is here.

HT

 

What Good Shall I Do This Day?

ITS TACTICAL:

Golden Gate Bridge

It’s the 1970s. A 30-something man makes his way across the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s passed by pedestrians and cyclists, and steps around tourists taking pictures of Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the channel of water below that runs between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. He gazes up at the reddish-orange towers soaring above, and then climbs over the bridge’s four-foot safety railing. He steps out onto a 32-inch wide beam known as “the chord,” pauses, takes one last long look out at the bay, and then jumps. His body plummets 220 feet and violently hits the water at 75 mph. The impact breaks his ribs, snaps his vertebrae, and pulverizes his internal organs and brain. The Coast Guard soon arrives to recover his limp, lifeless body.

When the medical examiner later located and searched the jumper’s sparse apartment, he found a note the man had written and left on his bureau. It read:

“I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump”…

It’s a great post.  Do read it in full here.

What good will you do this day?