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Is Cremation any Way to Honor Our Dead?

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Rachel Lu - published on 11/06/14

I personally find it a little bit heartbreaking that people should be so relentlessly focused on ease and convenience that they can hardly spare a thought for commemorating the dead. Keep in mind, before giving these kinds of instructions to family, that your surviving relations may want to take a little trouble over you. Honoring the lives of parents, grandparents or other relatives is the kind of “blessed burden” that can bring comfort to the bereaved.

The appeal of cremation probably also says something about the rootlessness of people today. Christians with a strong connection to a particular earthly place normally want to be buried there. Today, however, people are continually changing their address, and that may increase their desire to be literally scattered to the winds in death. It is also possible that modern people, because they have such difficulty disciplining the bodily appetites, are especially attracted to the symbolic “discarding” the body in the post-mortem. The body feels like more of a weight than a blessing to the soul, so it seems better to live without it.

As Christians, we know better than to indulge these errors. Though subject to the effects of the fall, our bodies are still good; that’s how God made them. They will accompany us in perfected form through all eternity. And, as St. Paul told the Corinthians, the last enemy to be destroyed shall be death. In anticipation of that day, we should bury our beloved dead, and hope for good things to come.

Rachel Lu teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas and writes for Crisis Magazine and The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @rclu.

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