June 25, 2006
Yesterday was the memorial service for my Great Uncle Frank Moody. We learned he used to quip that with a name Nathaniel Francis Moody he had all his bases covered... Nathaniel the disciple of Jesus, Saint Francis so revered among Catholics, and the great protestant evangelist DL Moody.
He had been cremated, so there was the urn (a sealed green marble box) at the front, with some photographs of him...when he was young he looked a bit like Valentino, actually. He was a Brigadier in the Salvation Army and so the service was Salvationist, with a small brass ensemble, and everyone singing... the upbeat rendition of Beulah Land with clapping during the chorus (after the presiding officer mentioned Uncle Franks love of shaking a tambourine to that song) was really moving, I think more so than a somber song would have been at that point.
Afterwards I got to catch up with the Scheinfeldt cousins, always a blast. I learned some of them check out this site from time to time, guess I have to watch myself in this place.
Sometimes when I hear scripture these days, I'm struck at the similarities among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam... sometimes I realize that the tone of the Bible is often closer to its "desert religion" roots than the Westernized interpretation I grew up in, a little more harsh, a certain Middle Eastern spiritual vibe. It's hard to put my finger on exactly.
Actually, something in the service made me think about a theological point. One of the readings was from 1 Corinthians, about the resurrection of the dead at the world. But also during the service, the idea that Uncle Frank had already received his place in Heaven was expressed. I've definitely heard more about the second idea, from cartoons about people up at the pearly gates to words of comfort during funerals. The two ideas aren't easily reconciled, though I guess they don't quite contradict each other either.
I got to talking to Ksenia about Russian Orthodox thought. It has a few interesting ideas...after someone's death there's a 40-day period before the person's fate is determined. Friends and Family can pray and try to help the person get into Heaven and not Hell...but then, it sounds like that's not the eternal reward or punishment, but just what goes on until the end of the world, at which point the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ should allow everyone to live in the new kingdom. It's an interesting idea, and I appreciate the relative lack of eternal hellfire.
In reading the full 1 Corinthians chapter, it resolved one thing for me... I that that bodily resurrection is an important idea for many sects, which is why some shun organ donation (that shunning is a tremendous humanist sin, I'd say) and cremation. But verses 35-38 cover that, and use a metaphor how just like you plant a seed, not wheat itself, to get wheat, there might not be a 1:1 correspondance between this body and the next.
Tangent, in writing about this I wanted to find out if the traditional Jewish dislike of tattoos has any roots in an idea about resuurection and I found this page. Ideas like not wanting to echo the tattoos Holocaust as well as "this body is like a loaner car, you want to keep it in good condition" get more play than any talk of resurrection. But I did learn that there's Jewsploitation band, probably a parody of the White Supremicist group Skrewdriver, called "Jewdriver".