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Thursday, April 25, 2013


The coffin of the late Syrian Defense Minister Daoud Rajha at Cross Church in Damascus July 20, 2012.  REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

The subject of funerals has been in the back of my mind for a while, and just now I opened a letter from some cremation service. Hmmmph. Don't need that, at least not today. My parents, being parsimonious and not particularly religious (can you say ardent atheist?), thought conventional funerals were an unnecessary extravagance. Over on Military Photos dot net I see a fair number of memorial ceremonies. I don't really understand them. I suppose it's a chance to see people you don't normally see, which is good, but nobody ever says that.
    A long time ago I heard about a religious sect (the Parsi in India) who built hollow stone towers. They would put the bodies of their dead inside and close the door. Vultures would come in through the open roof and devour the dead. I thought it was a particularly gruesome way of getting rid of a body.
    Embalming seems silly. I mean, why are you trying to preserve the body? Is someone going to have some use for it in the future? I doubt it. You are interrupting the natural order of things.Cremation used to seem like a good way to go, until we got into all this global warming business, which I am not too concerned about, but how much fuel does it take to incinerate a body? And what's the point? Earthworms can do the same job for free.
    Recently I heard about green burials, which basically means putting the body in a gunny sack and dropping it in a hole in the ground. Saves land because the hole is only a couple feet in diameter, and the site could be reused eventually. I would think a hundred years would be long enough to allow the body  to decompose and people to recover from their grief. The bones would still be there though.
    Deer drop their antlers every year and grow new ones. Antlers seem to be made of durable material, I mean we use it for knife handles and the like, so where are all the old antlers? Why isn't the forest floor covered with antlers a hundred feet deep? Because somebody is eating them, that's why. Calcium is the basic element in antlers, so if the deer are going to grow new antlers, they are going to need to take in a large amount of calcium. I don't know how the old antlers get broken down and back into the deer, but it seems to be happening.
    Which brings up the theory on how to get rid of a dead body: you leave it out in the woods somewhere. It needs to far enough from any human habitation that the smell won't be noticed, but leave it out there for a few years and there won't be any evidence that there was ever a body there.
   Which brings us back to the Parsis. Maybe they were onto something. Build one stone tower and you have an eternal method of disposing of bodies. Or maybe not.

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