Friday, April 5, 2013

Here lies religion...

Death. Eventually we all die, and some of us fear that greatly. Luckily I am among those that do not fear the inevitable day that I cease to be. The reasons for that are many, but that's not what I want to talk about today. Rather, lets talk about what happens to our bodies after we die. I for one have donated my body to science, and will then be cremated. However, many still opt for a traditional burial in a casket and a headstone. This is a practice I do not understand, and actively moved to avoid with my decision. A plot ties you down to one location... well, not you, since you'll be dead. But it forces those that want to 'visit' you to either stay in that area, or make a trek when they come to remember you. Scatter my ashes, keep them, launch them into space... I won't care. I feel it's better to remember ones memory, rather to fixate on a body buried in a box.

Lets fill the land of the future with parks rather than the dead.

Actually, I see cemeteries as a profound waste of space. In fact, other than a body being buried free of containment in order to decompose and return to the Earth, I see cemetery burial to be wasteful. A plot of land is left to forever contain your slowly decomposing remains. The plot itself is usually quite expensive, as well as the marker which an range from basic to elaborate. So there is a large initial investment that is usually left to those you left behind. And there is the problem of available plots becoming fewer and fewer in number. When I see a graveyard, I see unnecessary waste. Yes, the markers can be interesting works or art, and the grounds can sometimes look as if it's also a beautiful garden.

I fully realize that there is an emotional aspect at play as well. But I don't feel that this fact necessitates the existence of expansive cemeteries. You don't need that physical place where the body lays in order to remember your loved one. To me, that head stone and ever still body focuses on death... that they are gone. Isn't it better to return to a loved ones favorite place and remember them there. Or to just sit back and remember the fond memories of the deceased's life. To focus on the positives of their life, rather than the negative of their death.

Then there's the curious fact that so many churches also keep a graveyard on the grounds. This really is an interesting question. Christianity looks at the body as a vessel for the soul, and opines that the soul is what makes you, you. The soul matters, and the body is but a necessity in this physical world. That we will cast off the body when we ascend into the next life. So if the sole is considered THE thing, and the body is simply a necessary containment vehicle, why the graveyards? Cemeteries are for bodies after all, and under Christianity you (the soul) leave the body when you die. So the body isn't really 'you' anymore... actually, it never was. It was only holding 'you'. So why honor an anonymous construct of flesh? Technically, it can't be to horror the passed, since the body that would be buried there wouldn't be the deceased.

Under the sole = you construct, a body in a church graveyard would be like honoring a car to in remembrance of  the first tank of gas that you ever ran through it. To me, it feels like the churches recognized the emotional need for people to have a place to remember their loved ones. So why not provide one and make a profit to boot? Maybe that's the case, and maybe not. I suppose that it's more likely that the church once again failed to recognize the incompatibility of that practice with their beliefs. But that's a question that only they can answer.

Of course, the brain and it's functions are what make us who we are, not a 'soul'. What makes us who we are does not leave us at death, but rather dies along with our body. So I ask that we make the responsible choice to spur cemetery burials and opt for cremation instead. Lets not focus on death and loss, and instead remember the joys of life and love. Life may eventually end for us all, but lets gasp it and recognize it as that beautiful gift that it is.

-BH


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