In any place and time, the customs surrounding death say a lot about people's shared beliefs. Do I mean 'beliefs'? What I have in mind is not the consciously-chosen or stubbornly-clung-to position which that word may suggest. Rather, these customs reveal the deeper fabric of assumptions, usually taken for granted, which make up our understanding of reality.
What prompted this thought was a report in yesterday's Independent on Sunday that the British government is "considering radical solutions for disposing of the dead":
With options shrinking, the Government has turned its attention to the possibility of "boiling" bodies down to a handful of dust.
What I found most revealing was a comment from the company promoting this technique. Sandy Sullivan, managing director of Water Resomation Ltd, told the paper:
Cremation takes up to two hours to dispose of one body. We think we can do it in two hours, but we are telling people we can do it in three hours. Anything better than that will be a bonus – it would amount to three for the price of two.
What times we live in.