I have always been baffled by the Christian view of death. Obviously, all things – plant and animal – die. But with the Christian view on death, there seems to be a lot of confusion.
Let’s dissect out this religious concept on death. First, for Christians, they are only here for a while in the Prep School or Junior Varsity, ready and being prepared to take the big leap into heaven. Heaven is of course, the afterlife, along with hell, of the carrot and stick theory of Christianity.
Believe in the Savior of Jesus or do good works or both and you get to go to heaven where Jesus went to “prepare a place for you.” It is a nice thought, even if ridiculous.
Assuming that the Christian deceased is going to heaven to be with Jesus and God, shouldn’t there be shouting with joy about this wonderful event of the dead Christian brother? Should this not be a time of happiness about a loved one going to live with Jesus?
The irony comes with the follow up funeral plans and services. The scum of the funeral businesses are preying on those highly vulnerable after the death of a loved one. They are trying to ramp up the cost and services available from embalming to caskets to vaults to vault liners to urns to headstones to anything and everything that they can add to squeeze more money out of the living who want to do the best for their deceased loved one.
The idea, according to the funeral industry, is that you should use a casket (read expensive) and a vault liner to keep oxygen out of the vault that might break down the body of the dearly deceased. The truth, as outlined by Jessica Mitford in her book THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH, is that anaerobic (no oxygen) bacteria will decompose a body quicker than aerobic bacteria.
You would be better off putting a loved one in a large manila envelope and mailing it out of town (sure, I am being facetious here) than using containers sold by the funeral and cemetery industries.
The irony is that all burials used to be on the same day or within 24 hours of death as per Jewish tradition. The deceased would be viewed for a day in the parlor of the family home and then taken to the cemetery.
The idea of embalming with all the silly trappings that go with funerals seemed to arise with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. To honor him and for public viewing, he was taken on a three-week circuitous train trip from Washington to Springfield IL.
The irony of all this how most Christians view death and burial. In the Christian philosophy, all have souls and upon death, that soul either goes to heaven or hell if the deceased has been a bad boy.
Why then all the emphasis on the body? Why the concerns about the right suit or dress, the right makeup, the right hair style, the best (read expensive) casket and the gaudiest headstone? Why a viewing at all? Would it not be better to remember a person as they were when alive and vibrant, rather than deceased and caked with powder?
After all, from the Christian viewpoint, the soul is gone to be with Jesus and all we have left is the shell of a body. This shell is no different than a shoe box without the shoes, a refrigerator without the food or a peanut shell without the peanut.
Does this give you something to think about with your Christian faith? If not, it should. Does some of this conflict with your Christian faith and belief about honoring an empty shell instead of remembering the real person? If you do not feel a little uneasy – or if you do feel uneasy – then perhaps you should review your faith in your Christian belief.