"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, September 24, 2018

Death and Dying

Earlier this year I published an article based on a lecture I gave at Baylor University in 2015. In it I examined contemporary Western Christian funeral rites, starting with the Latin tradition after Vatican II. The scholarship by other Western Christians was quite critical of those reforms, as I went on to be in my lecture, all of us arguing that those obsequies work at cross-purposes from the necessary eschatological proclamation that funerals are uniquely situated to convey. In other words, funerals fail not only to adequately convey an understanding of death, judgment, heaven, and hell; but they fail to do other things, too. I went on tentatively (and non-triumphalistically) to suggest that one place to look to begin to repair this damage would be to the Byzantine funeral rites.

Before that lecture and since, I have, then, maintained an ongoing interest in the practices (or, increasingly, the disturbing lack thereof) surrounding death and dying in our culture, and changing practices around funerals. I have noted on here in the past fascinating and disturbing studies--such as that of Candi Cann--which I again commend to your interest.

All this is prologue to saying that a new book just published this summer looks to deserve a place in this burgeoning syllabus on Christian obsequies: Christian Dying: Witnesses from the Traditioneds. George Kalantzis and Matthew Levering (Cascade Books, 2018), 284pp.

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