Funerals or Celebrations? image

Funerals or Celebrations?

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Carl Trueman is always thought-provoking, especially when it comes to contemporary habits in historical perspective. Here's an incisive comment on the replacement of funerals by "celebrations of life" in the modern church, from his (excellent) lecture on death at The King's College:

If sex and death are the two big forces, then why not look at our attitudes to death as a gauge of our worldliness?

Take for example the creeping intrusion of so-called “celebrations of life” into Christian churches as the default liturgy of death. Such things deny death its due by attempting to numb the pain the strangest of ways. If ever there was a way to underline the devastating trauma of death, it is surely to recollect the joy and laughter which the deceased brought to the lives of others. If one is bankrupted, the devastation of one’s bankruptcy is not ameliorated by the memories of all the money once possessed and now spent – yet we seem to think the same principle is a cause for celebration at death. Perhaps Dante expressed it best, through the words that he puts in the mouth of Francesco di Rimini in Canto V of the Inferno: “Life brings no greater grief than happiness remembered in a time of sorrow.” And Dante was of course using those words to describe the second circle of hell, not suggesting an appropriate liturgy for a Christian funeral service.

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