Ashes to dishes

In the spirit of my recent post about the Catholic's Church's edict against keeping or spreading of the ashes of loved ones comes Justin Crowe's Nourish dinnerware, made from the remains of over 200 people.

More specifically:

Nourish is a dinnerware series designed to infuse a sense of mortality into everyday moments. It was made using the ashes of 200 people, each with their own previous lives and stories, distilled into their elemental essence. It’s inspiration to celebrate, share, and live full while reflecting on our very existence. The series is functional dinnerware for daily use.

I strongly suspect that the Catholic Church would not approve of this method of disposal, either.

I'm not entirely sure I do.

nourish dinnerware.jpg

Catholics should be able to scatter their ashes wherever they damn well please.

My wife once said that amongst the many noble reasons that I became a teacher, it was also because I don't like to be told what to do.

This has never occurred to me before, but she's probably right. Teachers spend most of their day deciding how and when and what they will do. There is curriculum, of course, and procedures and schedules, but in the end, teachers dictate the course of each day.   

It occurs to me that perhaps this is one of the reasons why I struggle to find faith as well, particularly in light of the Catholic Church's recent announcement on how to handle the ashes of the cremated (though they continue to stress that burial is preferable to cremation):

Ashes must be kept “in a holy place, that is a cemetery or a church or in a place that has been specifically dedicated to this purpose. The conservation of ashes in the home is not allowed."

“Furthermore, in order to avoid any form of pantheistic or naturalistic or nihilistic misunderstanding, the dispersion of ashes in the air, on the ground, on water or in some other way as well as the conversion of cremated ashes into commemorative objects is not allowed.”

I'm not Catholic, but this still annoy me.

The words "is not allowed" repulse me.

The rationale ("...to avoid any form of pantheistic or naturalistic or nihilistic misunderstanding") is essentially admitting to a fear that cremation and the spreading of ashes might lead people to believe that religion need not be so codified, structured, and authoritarian. 

The decision over how a person's remains will be handled following their death should absolutely be made by the deceased. Death is hard enough without a church adding complication, unnecessary specificity, or guilt to the process by supposing that God would give a damn about how a person's atoms are returned to the universe.

I don't believe in God (despite my desire to do so). I don't speak or pretend to know God. But I am nevertheless fairly certain that if God exists, the disposal of a soul's earthly vessel is not on his radar.

And what about all the Catholics who have come before this edict? What about all the believers who have had their ashes spread over hill and dale? Were they given the stink eye by God upon their arrival in Heaven? Has their decision caused unhealthy levels of pantheism or naturalism or nihilism their loved ones? Have they doomed their family members to a lifetime of doubt?

This whole business strikes me as unnecessary, silly, and a little cruel. Also, Elysha is right. I can't stand it when someone tries to tell me or anyone else what to do.

A simple geographic reminder to those overly insistent, overly-aggressive people of faith

When someone becomes overly insistent and overly aggressive about the truth behind their deeply held religious beliefs, I like to remind them that their deeply held religious beliefs are almost certainly predicated upon geography.

For the vast majority of people, religious belief simply correlates to where they spent most of their childhood. It is not a found or discovered belief but an inherited one. In the United States, for example, 56% of people affiliated with organized religion were born into that religion, and another 20% have merely changed church affiliation within the Christian or Jewish faith.

As a result, more than three-quarters of Americans espouse a religious belief because they were born in the United States to parents who had the same belief. 

But let's be honest: 

If these same people were born in Saudi Arabia, they would almost certainly be Islamic.

If they were born in Tibet, they would almost certainly be Buddhist. 

If they were born in India, they would likely be Hindu.

Considering that 23% of Americans are nonbelievers, this means that less than 3% of Americans are currently affiliated with a religious belief that they did not inherit upon birth and is not based upon their childhood mailing address. 

So relax, you overly aggressive religious interlopers. 

I'm not saying that your geographically inherited religious belief is any less important, meaningful, valid, or spiritually satisfying as a belief (or absence of belief) that is realized only after careful study and introspection.

I'm only saying that this is true if you are attempting to impose your geographically-based beliefs upon others through some political, legal, or economic means.

Your religious belief may be true to you, but just remember why you probably think it's true and let the rest of us believe what we want, absent of any judgment or persecution.