The culture surrounding death has changed for me. Maybe it's the move from Minnesota, with the strong Scandanavian, Lutheran, Roman Catholic culture where formal rituals were practiced with somber duty to the more informal, laid-back "warmer" culture of California, where everyone stays young as long as possible and conversations and images of death are avoided. Maybe it's also a culture morph that has more to do with these times than a region of the country. I don't know. What I do know is that dying is different our here than back there. Oh, the dead are just as dead. It's just that we go about it differently.
As a pastor, one of the chief responsibilities is to identify with and understand the culture in which you serve. There was a cultural difference between rural Indiana and industrial Muskegon and large city, high-tech Minneapolis. But all were clustered in the same midwestern environment. I'm far from done enjoying examining the way life works here in California. But an article by Thomas G. Long in last Sunday's New York Times (another culture altogether!) reflected on the way we bury our dead and the way we care for our living. Take a look.