Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection..."

By chance this morning I came across Chad Bird's "The Tragic Death of the Funeral" in which he argues that a "celebration of life" is "necronarcissism," and doesn't serve well the real needs of the mourners:
.... Whereas a funeral, at least in traditional Christianity, takes death seriously, and balances the truth of grief and loss with the hope of life and resurrection, the Celebration of Life looks neither to the present of grief nor the future of hope, but solely to the past. Its focus is neither faith nor hope but only love of what was lost. .... Call it a celebration all you want; life is not so much celebrated as death is ignored. Therein lies a great tragedy, for a Celebration of Life is a missed opportunity to understand death aright.

.... When a funeral degenerates into a Celebration of Life, mourners may find temporary relief in the nostalgia of the memories, but they will be deprived of true and lasting healing that comes only after confronting death and finding life in Another.

While the old adage, “A funeral is for the living,” is true, it is an ambiguous truth. It leaves unanswered the question: for what purpose is it for the living? The assumption behind the saying is that death creates a need, or needs, that must be addressed. While these needs vary in kind and number from individual to individual, at the core of them all is this: the need to find that death is not the end, that life will have the last word. Call it a celebration all you want; life is not so much celebrated as death is ignored.

Despite its name, a Celebration of Life is ill-equipped to address that. It’s focus is upon a dead person, not a living and vivifying God. Nor does it take seriously the reality and cause of death, without which life cannot be understood. Indeed, it seems an ideal Trojan horse to roll into a religious service, for inside it are hidden many of the same errors that devalue life in our culture.

The bereaved need, and deserve, something better. They deserve a service that speaks frankly and honestly about death, while anchoring the survivors in a hope that extends beyond this world. If any life is to be celebrated, let it be the life of the One who alone can lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, and who shines a ray of his life into the gloom of death. [more]
The Tragic Death Of The Funeral