Category: death, mortality, the dead

The Lord & His Woman

  The Gospel according to C. J. Jung   I’ve written a series of articles that transform scholarly articles into the stories they imply. This is an example.  No person owns a sacred story, because a story is sacred only if it is the story of Everyperson. Though the story of Lord Yahweh, the Holy Antinomy, sounds…


Composting Human Bodies

Nation’s first human-composting funeral home is now open in the state of Washington


Rockin’ the Coffin

How does creativity help us cope? What role does the imagination play in allaying our age-old fears of loss and separation?  Filmmaker Cailleah Scott-Grimes leans into these questions in the short doc she’s made in collaboration with her father. Rockin’ the Coffin, a contrarian’s guide to the good death, was made possible by the CBC’s Creative Relief…


Death by the Book

In 2013 I almost died. Same thing in 2016. I’m 77. My Dear Companion says, “Those events made me a widow twelve-times over.” During COVID I built a coffin that spooked my daughter. Fighting off fear, she built a mini-coffin, “My little coffin can checkmate your big coffin.” CBC, the Canadian public broadcaster, then commissioned…


Intimacy and Exposure

Friendship in the Covid Era Amigos por siempre The year is 1970. I’ve just finished a PhD. This is my first academic position. Hugo and I are teaching at the same university. He is teaching Spanish. I am teaching religious studies. One morning I hear an articulate stream of Spanish swearing echoing down the hall….


Cápsula del Tiempo (Time Capsule)

Earlier I wrote a post about coffins: Before the pandemic arrived, I had begun building a coffin with my friend Ted not because I’m dying but because, as my daughter put it, Dad’s not afraid of dying. Truthfully, Dad is a bit afraid, but he displays his fear by defying death. Dad is self-inoculating, staving…


Ritual in a Pandemic World: Coffins

April 5, 2020, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams announced, “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives…. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.” What a…


Ritualizing in the Time of Coronavirus

by Barry Stephenson Dating from the 4th century, Rome’s San Marcello al Corso houses a crucifix that began its famed career by surviving a devastating fire in May of 1519. Three years later, during the height of a plague, friars of the Servant of Mary, disregarding the prohibitions imposed by the civil authorities, carried the…


Mardi Gras: A Virological Accelerant

The first epicenter of Covid-19 was Wuhan Province, China; then northern Italy, then Spain. The US is likely to become the next epicenter. And the epicenter of the epicenter will likely be New York City or New Orleans. New York City has a population of 8.6 million people crowded into in 302 square miles. New…


Ritualizing in a Pandemic World: Masking

On this day, March 11, in the year of 1988, my daughter was born 2011, a tsunami hit Japan disrupting Fukushima Daiichi 2020, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic On other days, in other years, people survived and thrived, died and were memorialized. From 1347-1352, the Black Death (bubonic plague), killed 25 million people, 1/3 of…


Holocaust remembrance

  Remembrance is supposed to be good for a community, but much depends how those who remember actually remember. The Daily Beast reports on Mike Pence’s way of remembering the Holocaust: “Many Jews have pointed out that Pence, who is an evangelical Christian, imposes a Christian narrative on the Holocaust, comparing victims of the Holocaust to Jesus. His tweet…


We croak?

Want to be reminded fives times a day that you’re gonna croak? We Croak will do that for you. Presumably based on an old Bhutanese saying about the secret of happiness, the app sends you wise sayings or poetry or a line to remind you that you should contemplate death at least five times daily….


When the celebrant dies, you what?

During holidays, you could call the labor “just cooking” or “just cleaning” or even “just fretting.” But if the family gathers, laughs, argues, reconnects, and remembers what it often forgets, maybe you should call the work something else. Whoever engineers, or designs, the event is a celebrant, a ritual-maker. Describe the job this way, to…


The day the clock stopped

Norwegians sometimes refer to July 22, 2011, as their “9/11,” the day their perceptions were changed forever by an act of violence. An assassin exploded a car bomb beneath a government building in Oslo, then ferried to Utoya island, where he hunted down and shot Labour Party youth attending a summer camp. In the end,…


Making it up as we go

In 2012, Cailleah imagined I might die while she was in Japan. She worried that I would never know what she could become, so we improvised a ritual with her in Toronto and I in Waterloo. Then, she made this film. I didn’t croak (although I almost did in 2013). We’re both still going, making…


How shall we commemorate lives unjustly cut short?

When you have the time and freedom to circle the deep, that’s glorious. When you don’t have either the time or the freedom–when you’re draped over the edge by another hand–that’s dreadful. When someone else cuts your life short by lynching, angry questions burn the air. The Equal Justice Initiative is building the National Memorial…


How shall we question our big questions?

This bit of musing is an experiment in querying your big question.   Ron is me. Don is Ron playing the Devil.   Ron: Am I going to die? Don: Of course. Silly question. Get serious. Ron: Okay, when will I die? Don: You really want to know that? Don’t you get anxious just waiting for…


Bury me where?

I have retired five times. Now I’m blogging about the little things to which life and death appear to be tethered. Some call Big Questions “religious;” others, “spiritual.” Both terms are troublesome, so I try to avoid them. I don’t believe in blogs any more than I believe in what most people call religion. Too…


How to keep your dead family photographically alive?

Susan talks about downsizing. I’m not ready for such a move even though people our age are doing it. For one thing, it would cost us more, not less, to move into a condo. For another, I am still capable of maintaining the house, so enjoy it. In a condo I’d have fewer reasons to…