In April I flew to Iowa to meet my family and bury my great Aunt. She was an amazing woman who grew up on a farm during the depression, won a state basketball championship in high school, and was one of the most honest, spirited persons I have ever known. She loved the Lord, served her church faithfully, and upon her death was cremated. Since then several people in my family have talked of being cremated when they die. This includes my mother-in-law who asked me about this very subject last night. I have given it some thought but wanted to see where others stood on the issue. John Piper gives several reasons why he does not counsel people to be cremated:
1. Burning people was associated with pagan religions in Scripture. “The biblical pattern is that burning your children is pagan and burying your loved ones is a sign that you believe in the resurrection.”
2. Scripture speaks of believers who die as though they are asleep. This is most symbolically represented by the placing of a body in a casket and then burial in the ground. You want to symbolically put it to rest, not destroy it.
3. The bible has such a high view of the body. It is God’s creation. God will redeem it upon his return. It is the temple of God while the believer lives on earth. All of these truths should lead every believer to treat the body with respect, and Piper does not feel that cremation necessarily does this.
4. Although the financial cost may be cheaper, the emotional cost on family members who don’t want to see this happen to a loved one may outweigh the material cost.
He makes good points here, but there are arguments on the others side as well.
1. The Bible never explicitly states that cremation of a deceased loved one is a sin. When Piper says that “burning your children is pagan,” he is referring to child sacrifice in the OT which was murder and an abomination. Those who speak of cremation are dealing with a person who is already gone, although a funeral is a religious ceremony as well.
2.If our desire was really to follow biblical patterns for burial, we should be placing bodies in catacombs wrapped in linen and spices.
3. In a hundred years it will be as though the body had been cremated when it returns to the dust of the ground. Furthermore, many people have died in various ways that have affected the body and this will not hinder God in creating a new-redeemed body for the believer.
So my question is whether or not this issue is more a matter of preference, or if there is clear biblical teaching and principles that should be followed?
I had a few more random links that I didn’t include in this morning’s Flotsam and Jetsam post. And, I didn’t want to leave you with insufficient resources for wasting time on Friday. So, here you go.
- This is how you wash your lion in public.
- Here’s a slideshow comparing the main characters from Mad Men and their 90210 counterparts. The parallels are rather eerie.
- Here’s a list of 30 awesome college lab classes. I need to find a way of including some of these labs in my theology classes. HT
- It sounds like they’re finally gaining some traction for turning Neil Gaiman’s Sandman into a TV show.
- Peter Leithart explains why we should read and read broadly.
- And, check out the Socrates Argument Clinic if you want to match wits with Socrates himself. HT
I took this video during my Th.M. seminar last spring, and it clearly shows our Th.M. students excitedly gathering to learn more amazing theological truths from their esteemed program director. I’ve tried to tell them that they really don’t need to squeak like that all the time, but we were discussing the Greek Fathers, so I can understand why they’d have a hard time constraining themselves.
- Apparently iMonk has been getting some pushback for their recent posts on the New Calvinism (anyone surprised?). So, today Mike offers a few responses “with all due respect.”
- You’ve probably heard by now about Stephen Hawking’s declaration that God didn’t create the universe (for good comments see here, here, here, and here). If you want to read more about the book in which Hawking makes this argument, The Grand Design, here is the Washington Post review.
- James Smith explains why you need to pick a specific discipline for your graduate studies.
- Collin Hansen has some great thoughts on the difficulties of pastoral succession.
- Scot McKnight summarizes Allister McGrath’s four ways in which theologians actually have some value for the church. I’m really hoping that there’s more than four, but it’s a start.
- Justin Taylor offers some great resources for reading the Church Fathers.
- Peter Leithart has some great comments on the relationship between low sacramentalism and Arianism.
- Christopher Hitchens responds to the idea that God gave him cancer as punishment for his atheism: “The vengeful deity has a sadly depleted arsenal if all he can think of is exactly the cancer that my age and former “lifestyle” would suggest that I got.”
- And, just in case you’re tempted to get something productive done today, Joe Carter offers 30 videos to distract you while you wait for the labor day weekend.
The American Library Associated has published a list of the top 100 banned/challenged books from 2000-2009. Here’s the top 10:
- Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
- Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
- Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
- His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
- TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Apparently, I need to read controversial books a bit more, since the only ones I’ve read in the top 10 are the Harry Potter books, Of Mice and Men, and the His Dark Materials series.
Some interesting inclusions from the rest of the list:
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn comes in at #14. Still? After all these years, there’s still controversy. That by itself is a pretty impressive accomplishment. Go Twain.
- My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier hit #27. What’s the deal with this one? This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I don’t know how many times I read it, and I don’t remember anything particularly controversial. Maybe I just wasn’t sheltered enough as a child.
- I have the same question with the Bridge To Terabithia at 28. Is this really controversy worthy?
- #35 on the other hand is one that I haven’t read, but the title alone probably explains the controversy: Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison.
- The fact that The Kite Runner comes in at #50 is just a shame. Sure there’s a pretty tough scene in the book, but can’t we get past that and appreciate the power of the story?
- The Junie B. Jones books (#71)? Really? Did we run out of things to complain about?
- And, of course, there’s the normal list of great literature that touched on difficult themes and therefore should be kept from our children: The Color Purple (17), Catcher in the Rye (19), To Kill a Mockingbird (21), Brave New World (36), Fahrenheit 451 (69), and The Handmaid’s Tale (88).
I could keep going. There’s some great literature on this list. (It also looks like there’s some real garbage, but I can’t comment on books I haven’t read). Since I obviously haven’t read everything on the list, I’d be curious to know what books you think are on here that kids really should be reading.
For those who will be taking Marc’s philosophy class I thought I’d mention that you can watch a long list of videos from Academic Earth that seemingly deal with some of what we will be covering in classes and in our reading. The philosopher is Shelly Kagan of Yale. You can find the lectures here.
I’ve been out of town for a while, so I haven’t posted many links in the last couple of days. Here are some of the more interesting ones, just in case you missed them.
- Phillip Clayton discusses “Big Tent Christianity” (aka emerging church).
- Sheffield Biblical Studies has started a new blog. (HT)
- William Black discusses the Trinity in evangelical and Orthodox thought.
- The most recent 9Marks ejournal focuses on Hell: Remembering the Awful Reality.
- Brian offered a nice roundup of links on the controversy between Al Mohler and BioLogos.
- Michael Patton deals with the professional weaker Christian.
- Nick explains (again) why he thinks perichoresis has nothing to do with dancing.
- James McGrath offers a nice set of links dealing with online scholarship.
- And, here’s a reading list for new science fictions readers.