09 January 2007

Of Christian Burial.


Russell Moore contemplates the meaning of Christian burial and why so many Christians now choose funerals in the pagan fashion:

"I knew my grandfather’s funeral wouldn’t be elaborate or expensive. He was a big-hearted Baptist, generous with his grandchildren but spending little on himself. This was a man who refused the “luxury” of air-conditioning in south Mississippi, a place where most people consider air-conditioning a necessity.

He left instructions that he didn’t want anyone spending money on a casket, embalming fluid, or an elaborate funeral. He wanted to be cremated, the cheapest way possible to dispose of his earthly remains. No one asked my opinion on this, but I wept bitterly at the thought of this great man being reduced to ashes in the twinkling of an eye.

I could understand my grandfather’s request. He was a practical man who wanted to save money for his family. And the financial racket of cushioned caskets, catered “celebration services,” and steel-vaulted graves is a scandal, to be sure. What I couldn’t understand was how few of my fellow Christians joined in my horror at the thought of a Christian man’s cremation.

Of all the issues of controversy among Christians, I find few more incendiary than whether or not we should, well, incinerate the bodies of our loved ones. I find that Christians become agitated, defensive, and personally insulted more quickly on the question of cremation than on almost any other contemporary question. And I find this odd.

A Christian burial seems, in this culture, more and more nonsensical: a waste of money, a waste of otherwise usable land, a waste, perhaps, even of emotion, as we try to “hold on to the past” and fail to “move through our grief and get on with life.” But if someone had asked any previous generation of Christians or of pagans if cremation were a Christian act, the answer would have seemed obvious to them, whether they were believers or infidels: Christians bury their dead. . ."

Here's the whole thing. Timely reading - I opened this can of worms in an adult Sunday School class several weeks ago to the agitation of many.
 

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