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Relig St 2NO3 jan 8.docx

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Religious Studies
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Sherry Smith

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Relig St 2NO3 st 1 midterm readings: Aries article, badone, taylor, excerpts from shepherd hughes book, simone chapter Final 7 readings: Sharp, lynch, green, Thomas, bennet, latterman, graceman Changing Attitudes Toward Death Taboo or not taboo - In western society death is often characterized as taboo - Mass media makes death highly visible o Example on sep 11 , people watched the attacks or saw news reports o Programs such as six feet under, criminal minds etc. o Makes the dead body the new “pornstar” of pop culture o Death is a staple of newscasts, even cartoons, sports “ball is dead”, religious program - Images of death rarely add to understanding of death - Lack of themes in entertainment media= an impoverishment of death symbolism o Lack of talking about death in positive ways - Cartoon depictions of death o Daffy duck squished, but pops up later o Roadrunner and wylie coyote, dies over and over again - Death always seems to happen to people elsewhere o In north America, in photos don’t show bodies. Graphic images usually of the other o Death of the other is in the public eye o Photographs of dead people less common in western o Period in Victorian era people would take pictures of the dead - Death of the self o Very private o Process of death and dying in western society is increasingly privatized o People die in medical institutions in the care of medical professionals - Funerary ritual is in the hands of specialized professionals in n.america and Europe o Funeral home is a social space, separated from the rest of social world. A problem of meaning - Peter berger and Anthony Giddens state death presents a problem of meaning for all societies - Death calls into question basic assumptions about social life - Societies attempt to avoid or deny the basic fact of human mortality and at the same time attempt to explain the fact in a meaningful way o Uncertainty about the fate of the self after death o Societies must live and carry on despite death - Berger- one key role of religion is to provide a sense of meaning in the face of a lack of meaning o Death is given meaning in almost all religions o Eg. Abrahamic tradition  Believe in idea of soul, which continues to exist spiritually after the body dies  Resides in another realm after death  Kingdom of god, heaven, paradise, hell, purgatory  Believers think places are reward or punishment of how you live before you die. Phillipe Aries and Tony Walter- contemporary views of death - Phillipe Aries o French historian and medievalist o Wrote a book: the hour of our death o Used historical records, literary works, cemetery monuments, architecture and art to chart western ideas about death. o Patterns of death:  Tame death • In western history death was not always denied • Began with early middle ages: accepted as familiar occurrence, not feared, very natural th • Death seen as unavoidable and normal part of life. Between 6-11 centuries • Death was not personal, it was a social affair • Family and community present at deathbed, wake and funeral • When someone died, everyone in community was involved • Collective rituals that emphasized continuity of community accompanied death • These repaired broken ties in community • In this time it was members of the church that go to heaven • Death not desired, but not fought • State of death depicted as sleeping, which is a Christian view. • Sleep til second coming of Christ. • Put personal affairs into order before they die  Death of the self th • Arose in late middle ages, among the elite in society, 12 century to the renaissance period • Completely replaced tame death by 17 century • People began to view themselves as individuals instead of part of collective • People became more afraid of decaying corpse • Ideas about separation of body and soul were developed • Emp
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