Archive for June, 2011
As of 2010, roughly 38% of those who died in the United States chose cremation, while the remaining 62% chose a full burial.
By the time my generation starts hitting the cemeteries on a consistent basis the majority will be choosing cremation. Based on the current projections, roughly 60% of our dispositions will be direct cremations.
So, where are you at? I know it’s a morbid question, but where better to confront the question than on a funeral directors website?
You can take the survey below anonymously.
IF YOU’RE COMFORTABLE, SHARE THE SURVEY WITH YOUR FRIENDS (and your not-so-much-friends who need a little reminder of their own mortality)! The more people who take the survey, the better the survey will be!
And, if you’d like, let me know WHY you choose your particular disposition in the comments below.
Next Monday, I’ll post the results and I give what I see as the key to having a good funeral!
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.
On Saturday, I walked as a part of Biblical Seminary‘s graduating class of 2011.
As a testimony to Biblical’s attempt to move away from a more scholastically based education style and move towards a more missional approach, I can honestly say that I made just as many long lasting friends and mentors as I gained new ideas.
These pictures are the record.
The first pic is of Nicki and I. These past nine years have been a combination of me working full-time and going to school full-time, and Nicki sacrificing by picking up the many loose ends that I left behind. No more. If I pursue any more higher ed. degrees (which I hope to do), honey, I’m giving you more of me and less to work.
The second pic is of my parents, who also helped pick up the loose ends that both I and Nicki missed. All of us have been blessed by people who lend us their hands to help us along … I’ve been blessed to have those helpers also be my parents.
The forth picture is me receiving my diploma from Biblical’s President, Dr. David Dunbar.
The fifth picture is of my best friend from seminary, J.R. Briggs, who has authored a number of books, including When God Says Jump, he has the blessing of being mentored by Eugene Peterson, and is the pastor of cutting edge missional church, called Renew. He’s one of the best people I’ve ever met.
The sixth picture is of me and Jung Mo Koo (a MDiv. student who will graduate in about two years) and his lovely family who blessed me with so much of their wonderful Korean food and love that I’m probably a good five pounds heavier for it and a good 20 degrees happier because of their graciousness to reach out to an American.
On that note, one of the great parts of Biblical is the diversity of the student body, which is about one third white, one third Asian and one third African American, with nearly one third of the total being women.
The seventh picture is of me and my good friend, Dr. Derek Cooper, who is the professor of Christian history and author of So You’re Thinking About Going to Seminary and about three or four books that are forthcoming.
And finally, the ninth photo is of me and Dr. John Franke author of Beyond Foundationalism with Stanley Grenz, The Character of Theology [which is by far the best postconservative theology introduction] and Manifold Witness, as well as numerous other contributions. John’s had a bigger influence in on my thought life than I’ve allowed him to know, for fear that he might think I’m a stalker. The photo captures him telling me the most encouraging words of the day … he said, “When you do your Ph.D and need a reference, let me know … you’re a really bright guy.” Coming from John, the Oxford grad, it meant a lot especially as I consider the path ahead of me.
Church funerals often cause a proxemics dilemma. The dilemma comes into play when the family wants the open casket in the front of sanctuary.
When the time comes for the family to say their last good-byes before the lid’s closed, they have to do something incredibly intimate and tearful in a public setting, with often a hundred or so onlookers watching as they cover their deceased loved one with the blanket, give a final kiss good-bye and say their last “I love you.”
The way we solve the dilemma is by having the pall bearers come forward and surround the family, creating a human wall so to speak, which allows the family to let all their humanity out before the lid is closed.
Celebrity deaths create the same dilemma. And there’s nobody who uses that dilemma better than Westboro Baptist Church.
“Dumb ass. He had it coming.” That was my first thought when I heard about Jackass member Ryan Dunn’s death.
Ryan’s accident occurred roughly 20 miles from my house. Maybe you’ve read about it, or watched the video of Bam weeping at the crash site and heard that Ryan’s BAC was twice the legal limit when he crashed his Porsche at 130 mph, killing himself and Zachary Hartwell.
What should the public’s response be to Ryan Dunn’s death? We’re entitled to a response, right? I mean, he was a celebrity, he has a lot of young people who identify with him; and, his stupidity killed himself and his newly married passenger, leaving their friends and family with the ambiguous grief that has you wishing you could both punch and embrace the deceased all at once.
When you put your life in the public’s eye, the public is entitled to look into your death as well. Right?
Roger Ebert felt entitled to comment when he tweeted, “Friends don’t let jackasses drive drunk”. To which Bam Mergera replied in 139 characters, “I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterically for a full day and piece of s*** roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents”.
MTV took a surprising moral stance when they stated, “even someone as seemingly immortal as the daredevil couldn’t survive the risk of drinking and driving.”
And, of course, the lovely people from Westboro embraced their right with this pithy comment: “(the) drab pervert hawked … filth to get rich off a perverse generation.” And, they plan to protest his funeral.
And I wonder if those of us who want to use Ryan’s death as an object lesson aren’t so different from Westboro? I wonder if my response wasn’t that different? We might not have the same message, but are we using the same means?
Grief is sacred.
Grief is holy. It should be treated with reverence and maybe Bam’s response was right. When someone dies, shouldn’t we walk softly, speak graciously and allow for privacy? And while it may be true that Dunn’s friends are celebrities, today they’re mourners.
This sacredness of grief is the reason so many of us hate the Westboro picketers, who picket the funerals of fallen soldiers, and any other funeral that can grab them some limelight. We dislike what they’re doing because it transgresses one of the most sacred aspects of both our love and our humanity: the grief that comes from the loss of personal love.
As tempting as it is to use Dunn’s tragedy as an object lesson for the living, the lesson we should learn here is that even the celebrities that Dunn’s death affected need the space and permission to be human … they need the public to turn their back. They deserve the space to grieve … as humans, they need the grace to grieve the loss of the person Ryan Dunn, their friend, that I too easily turned into an object for a life lesson.
What do you think is the right response? Are we wrong to say something, or are we wrong to say nothing?
The funeral business is one of the few businesses where payment is based almost purely on trust. You go to the grocery store, you pay right away … there’s no IOUs. You buy a car, you either pay up front or you get your credit run to make sure you can front the load. You buy a house, same deal as buying a car.
But the funeral business, you can beat us pretty easily. And as I’ve mentioned before, getting beat happens too often. People will come in, pick out a rather expensive casket, expensive vault, etc. with no intention of every paying for it.
Some funeral homes will make families pay upfront, but we’ve never been able to bring ourselves to do that.
The trust and goodhearted grace that exists around death is the reason why funerals allow for the BEST in humanity, and — for those who are selfishly advantageous with that trust – the WORST in humanity.
The worst includes some pretty and petty imaginable things, like siblings somehow writing their other siblings out of Dad’s will. Fighting over money is typical.
The Westboro Baptist Church protesting funerals is a rather well chronicled example of the worst in people coming out around death.
But, there’s been some rather creative douches. For instance, a couple years ago all the bronze military markers that are placed by a deceased serviceman’s grave … the one’s that hold the flags … began to disappear in our area. Turns out some losers were stealing them from the graves and selling them to the local scrap yard for a couple bucks.
Perhaps the latest acts surrounding the death of Ryan Dunn display even greater acts of douchery.
As the photo above captures, guys are scrumming through the accident site, picking up pieces of the destroyed Porsche with the hope of being able to sell the pieces on Ebay. Awesome display of humanity. The only positive to actions like this is that it farther forestalls any possible alien attack on earth, as such actions probably confirm to the aliens that we’re not a comparative power threat … we’re a parasite threat.
There’s a big difference between weeping and crying. Crying is having a couple tears streaming down your face. Weeping is when you get snotty nose, your body starts convulsing, you often burst small veins and arteries in and around your eyes and after you’re done with the process, you need sleep.
I’ve rarely seen very religious people weep. They’re so used to putting on a front and/or trying to accept the belief that “it all happened for a reason”, that when it comes to grief and loss they have a hard time realizing it and can only eek out a couple tears.
Jesus wept. Proof, that he was truly human … not a religious cyborg.
For those of us from very religious backgrounds, it’s rare that we see people weep over death, dying and loss.
On Monday, one of the crew from Jackass died while driving his Porsche at about 100 mph on Rt. 322 … which is only about 25 miles from my home. One of his buddies, Brandon “Bam” Magera, was caught weeping on camera. I’m tenative to recommend a clip like this because it’s my opinion that capturing grief is borderline exploitation as grief is one of the most sacred acts of love … an act so sacred it shouldn’t be used. But, if you want to watch the clip, here’s the link.
There’s a couple short pieces of footage in this clip that depict Bam weeping … not crying … weeping. There’s the snotty nose, the convulsing body, the haggard posture ….
Writes Karen Araiza of NBC Philadelphia:
Bam Margera cried so hard his body shook Tuesday night when he went to see where best friend and Jackass co-star Ryan Dunn died in a fiery crash.
Margera rocked back in forth in agony at the guardrail that Dunn pierced with his Porsche Monday morning ….
Have you ever wept? Have you ever consoled somebody who was weeping? Do you know what I mean by it being “sacred”?