Friday, December 29, 2017

The end of cremation. . .

Read about it here. . .
Eight times a year a funeral director sets off by boat from Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base carrying about two dozen plastic bags filled with unusual human remains. The powder he pours overboard is from corpses that have been “cremated”—not by fire, but by liquid.

That’s how the University of California, Los Angeles, disposes of bodies donated to science: by dissolving the flesh off their bones. The bones are then ground to dust and scattered into the sea two miles offshore, forming white rings that slowly float away into the Pacific Ocean.

U.C.L.A. is the only place in California that liquefies the dead. But after five years and hundreds of bodies processed, Dean Fisher, director of the university’s Donated Body Program, hopes to change that. He has been working with state legislators on a bill allowing funeral homes to use this process, called alkaline hydrolysis. The state Senate has until September 15 to consider the legislation, which has already sailed through California’s lower house with a vote of 71 to 3. “The science says this technology is safe and has environmental benefits,” Fisher says. If California approves the new death rite, it would join a club that includes parts of Canada and several U.S. states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Wyoming.
For the first time in the U.S. 2015 saw more people cremated than buried in the ground.  It is not a fad but it is a reasoned choice by those who do not believe in burials that take up valuable property and a reasonable choice by those who find the average cost of a funeral shocking.  Cremation usually costs less than a third of a burial, saves on some natural resources; and relieves the demand of valuable real estate (right now the most expensive land in the world is a cemetery plot close to the place where Marilyn Monroe is buried).

The process is called alkaline hydrolysis and goes by names of biocremation, aquamation and resomation.  It may well become the replacement for cremation by fire which we are seeing replace traditional burial in the earth.  So what do you think about this?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Bible gives us the pattern of burial and respect for the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, even in death. Our Lord's body was cared for with dignity. Burning up bodies or dissolving them is not in accord with Scripture and the testimony it gives us.

Carl Vehse said...

In its FAQ on Life issues (p. 4) the Missouri Synod concluded that cremation "is a matter of Christian freedom and no Christian who chooses to have a loved one cremated rather than buried should be led to think that such a decision is sinful or in opposition to the Word of God."

Three other Lutheran church bodies (CLC, WELS, and ELS) have similarly explained on their websites or in their official publications that cremation has no Scriptural or theological proscription, so long as the motivation is not unchristian.

Those who do assert or imply with rhetorical jargon, eisegetic wordplay, or sophistic handwaving that Scripture mandates a Christian be buried, or that by choosing (some method of) cremation or donating one's body to medical science a Christian’s decision is not God-pleasing and he is failing to testify to the Gospel in the clearest possible way, are arrogantly claiming to speak for God what God has not spoken.

Carl Vehse said...

"The process is called alkaline hydrolysis and goes by names of biocremation, aquamation and resomation."

The process is a hi-tech version of the pioneer method for making soap by boiling scraps of animal fat in solutions of lye leached from wood ash.

Anonymous said...

Vehse is correct, the body is God's creation and has no meaning or value and you can do whatever you want with it when you are done with it, and it's all God-pleasing. Treat bodies like they are insignificant. Great idea!

The Bible doesn't say anything about a lot of things; so if God doesn't directly address it in the Bible, its all good to do whatever you want and you can it call it God-pleasing (since He doesn't prohibit it.)

And if anyone speaks against your pragmatic, self-sanctified God-pleasing decisions, call them a legalistic Pharisee and accuse them of speaking for God. And be sure to say its "freedom of the Gospel" because that makes you always right and no one can ever be against that.

Anonymous said...

Can you give cremation the same Biblical answer; when someone says, it doesn't specifically say to baptize babies, and no where does it ever record a women getting communion. Jut like with the Church of Christ has no instruments in their worship because the New Testament is silent about that.

Does the Bible say we can't have clown-themed worship service? So it can be God-pleasing? The Bible doesn't prohibit us from bringing our dogs and cats to church? And many churches have Rites, and it's all God-pleasing?
Why can't I bring coffee and donuts to the Service, where is that in the Bible? If someone tells me not to bring my starbucks into the Nave I will be sure to use the "freedom of the Gospel" "don't speak for God" card.

David Gray said...

The Trinity isn't in the Bible either.

Carl Vehse said...

Anon on December 29, 2017 at 11:15 AM, those are your own word droppings. Get some TP, Anon, to clean up from what you stated, and before you excrete any more.

Supported by statements from numerous Lutheran church bodies, my words are that cremation has no Scriptural or theological proscription, so long as the motivation is not unchristian.

David Gray said...

Mr. Strickert

You are standing in opposition to the catholic tradition. 2000 years of Christian teaching and interpretation are not subject to revision by synod committees. Burning has traditionally been for pagans. Christians have rejected these pagan practices in recognition of the hope of the resurrection. We should not reject the Christian tradition because sub-committee B of some bureaucratic quango has said it is peachy.

Carl Vehse said...

Despite your feckless whinings about tradition, Mr. Gray, cremation itself is not a sin according to Scripture and Lutheran doctrine. This is further supported by the FAQ quotes from LCMS pastors Norbert H. Mueller and George Kraus in their Pastoral Theology (used by LCMS seminaries).

Also, the CLC states:

"But the bottom line is that cremation is a matter of Christian freedom. Burial may be preferable, but as long as the weak are instructed concerning cremation so as to avoid offense (See Rom. 14:15, 1 Cor. 8:9), and so long as the motivation is not unchristian, nor for purposes of greed, we cannot forbid it. Nor do we want to place man-made laws on our people to burden them (see 1 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 5:1)."

WELS notes:

"The Lutheran Church has avoided legislation on the subject of cremation. Scripture gives no explicit prohibition or approval....

"Today the practice of cremation has been largely dissociated from religious implications. Limited burial space, disfigurement of the body, and health concerns are more practical reasons for cremation. With such reasons Lutherans have no argument. Some may even suggest that God and his resurrection promise are a more obvious focus of funeral worship when there is no embalmed body on display.

"God will raise 'cremains' as well as remains."


The ELS in its Lutheran Synod Quarterly (June 2001) has stated:

"There is nothing inherently wrong with cremation. It simply hastens the process of 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust,' which takes place under any method of disposition...

"Clearly, what we do with the mortal remains at death remains an adiaphoron, but the motive behind the action is of some concern...

"Actually, in some respects cremation may be preferred over burial, which for many years has suffered from the excesses of funeral directors."

Joseph Bragg said...

Oh, what a tangled web is woven by Sola Scritura and adiophera.

Carl Vehse said...

To avoid such entanglements in adiaphora, Lutherans subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions, including the Solid Declaration, Article X, which exposits from Scripture and states:

26] 1. Therefore we reject and condemn as wrong when the ordinances of men in themselves are regarded as a service or part of the service of God.

27] 2. We reject and condemn also as wrong when these ordinances are by coercion forced upon the congregation of God as necessary.

David Gray said...

Mr. Strickert often confuses wordiness with effectiveness. The Christian world has understood this issue for thousands of years. Johnny come lately's with their committees can't alter that and neither can empty verbosity. Good Lutherans don't start their theology in the 16th century.

Carl Vehse said...

Mr. Gray had contributed nothing of Scriptural or Lutheran substance to this thread.

William Tighe said...

"Good Lutherans don't start their theology in the 16th century."

Some don't, many do, IMO.

John J. Flanagan said...

The Bible has absolutely no example of cremation as a suitable choice for followers of God, but pagans were often burned, as well as heretics( a fine Roman Catholic tradition of disposing of those deemed apostate). No, my friends, cremation or liquification of a corpse is not Biblical when it involves the natural death of a Christian, However, an exception might be during war, when large numbers of putrefying bodies cannot be suitably buried, or in a pandemic setting, when diseased corpses may threaten the health and safety of the population. I find no example of an Old Testament figure creamated by their family, and as a child myself, I remember very few earnest Christian families cremating a loved one. Cremation is a product of the post Christian Era, when even the dead are not shown due respect, even in the Christian community as well.

Carl Vehse said...

"The Bible has absolutely no example of cremation as a suitable choice for followers of God."

The Bible has absolutely no examples of many medical, communication, transportation, occupational, technological, and funeral things which are regarded today as acceptable choices for followers of God, and for which Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions has no proscription, so long as the motivation is not unchristian.

Anonymous said...

Grandpa had a respectful funeral in a LCMS church, with full military honors conducted outside the church afterwards. His ashes are kept in an urn that was made by a local potter and friend of the family, using mud from the riverbank in our town. Now his ashes rest in an urn in Grandma's living room, and the urn wears Grandpa's WWII veteran hat. During Green Bay Packer games, the urn might sport a Packers hat. Eventually, the ashes of Grandpa and Grandma will be interred near other family members in the churchyard of a Lutheran church founded by our ancestors. In the meantime, Grandpa's memory is cherished.

Anonymous said...

What then shall we say? That cremation is a matter of the heart or conscience more specifically. What does it say to the pagan world when we give our loved ones a Christian burial in the ground? It sends a signal that we’re not like them and we choose ground burial over cremation in anticipation of the Resurrection and to accentuate our credal differences. A Christian funeral is about Christ and we take the opportunity of a funeral or memorial service to confess Him in word and deed. We wouldn’t want the world to confuse us with their own so the disposition of the remains becomes a witness and a testimony to God’s goodness and mercy in the Gospel of our Lord.
Having said that disposing of a corpse is a way to differentiate the Christian worldview from the pagan, it is neither prescribed nor proscribed by Scripture. It is neither commanded nor forbidden by God’s word and may be of greater or lesser import depending on the circumstances. While it may be a reverential and devout way in keeping with the Ancients, ground burial is nowhere codified in canon law, no matter how off putting cremation may be. So, practical matters can take precedence such as one’s budget, availability of a grave site, time, distance, next-of-kin, advance planning, the deceased’s last will and testament, etc. One might say that one type of disposal is a luxury over another type of disposal; one for the more fortunate among us, the other for the less fortunate. The bottom line is that Christ be honored in a conspicuous way and that the remains or cremains be handled with respect whether scattered or enshrined.