For All The Saints

At church this morning, we sang the praise of all the saints, and tomorrow we will praise and pray for all the faithful departed. I’m still feeling my father’s death a year and a half ago, and just a few weeks ago my aunt Isabelle died. It’s been a hard while of dying, and (of course) popular culture witnessed a funereal procession of hearses this year, headlined by Michael Jackson.
Tom Long has been studying America’s theology of death and mourning for years now, and his perspective in today’s op-ed in the NYTimes shows some of what he’s observed. He doesn’t mention the surge of fascination in zombies and vampires (whose fictive grim existence serves, perhaps, to offer an ironically self-aware empty promise of deathlessness), but the whole picture illustrates a sad cultural aphasia in the face of death. One of the jobs remaining to me will be to work on articulating what we ought to remember about dying, how we may learn to grow up into death.
Still, when our own words fail us, our forebears willingly lend us theirs. Dad, Isabelle; Michael, Ted, Eunice, Walter, Farrah, John, Mary, all: May rest eternal be yours, and light perpetual shine upon you. May your souls, and the souls of all the righteous, rest in peace.

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