Flushing a friend

White_toiletI have long complained about contemporary funerals.  But I have learned about yet another way of honoring the death of a loved one.

A man is going to baseball stadiums around the country.  While the game is going on, he goes to the men’s room and flushes some of the ashes of his late friend down a toilet.

Thus he honors his friend, a baseball fan and a plumber, making him one with the cathedrals of the game.  Or something.

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An obituary for a contemptible life

Memento_mori_(3690813647) (1)Obituaries summarize the events of the life of the deceased, a way of honoring the dead by looking back on the life they have lived. They often turn into eulogies, praising the character and good deeds of the person who died.  Lutheran funerals try to keep the focus away from the person’s good works as something to comfort the family, instead emphasizing Christ, the Gospel, and the persons’ faith.  The funerals of non-Christians are trickier.  (I’d be curious how you pastors handle those.)

A woman recently wrote an obituary for her father, who, she said, would “be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend.”  He died at age 74, “which was 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.”

“At a young age,” the obituary said, he “quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive.” “Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides [quick-witted] sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.”  “Leslie’s passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.”  And that’s not all.  You can read the entire obituary after the jump.

My first impulse was to laugh, then to appreciate the brutal honesty, then to be disturbed.  Is this breaking the Commandment about honoring your father and your mother?  It certainly breaks the taboo against “speaking ill of the dead.”  A news story confirms that the man abused his family, having been arrested several times, including for pouring boiling water on his wife.

But imagine living a life that inspired your family to write an obituary like this. [Read more…]

All Saints’ Day, the Reformation, and the shadow of Death

As he mourns a death in his family, Mathew Block brings together the Reformation and All Saints’ Day.  [Read more…]

Putting flowers on graves

Many of us will observe Memorial Day by putting flowers on the graves of loved ones.  This custom seems almost universal.  In fact, archaeologists studying the burial site of a stone-age woman have found that the cave dwellers put flowers on her grave.

It’s a beautiful, touching custom.  It feels deeply meaningful, but what does it mean?  Why do you think people do this? [Read more…]

Google is investing in letting us live for 500 years

Google is putting some of its gazillions of dollars into a venture capital fund.  Its goal is to fund research that will let us live for 500 years. [Read more…]

The fastest-growing new religious movement

Several years ago,  I blogged about the adoration of Santa Muerte,  St. Death (as in a feminine saint), the hooded skeleton being venerated by Mexican drug lords.  But now prayers to this saint and the sale of her images and icons have come into the mainstream, and not just in Hispanic enclaves but throughout the world.  You can now find her images in Wal-Mart.

Although the Santa Muerte cult takes the form of the veneration of saints in Roman Catholicism, the Church strongly opposes the practice.   Taping dollar bills to her statue and leaving cigarettes and liquor as offerings are thought to cause Santa Muerte to provide good luck and protection.  One expert says that worship of “Holy Death” is “the fastest-growing new religious movement.”  I suppose it is fitting that a culture of death has a religion of death.

Read about the phenomenon after the jump.

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