Cake and death

Eddie Izzard, known for his acerbic wit and original dress, presents the Church of England as a choice between 'cake' and 'death.' On youtube you can find this episode in his stand-up routine enacted with lego.

But cake and death are now to be found in a cafe near you!

Death Cafe has launched and I wonder about the challenge such a place might pose for the church.

Often people's first encounters with church are during the loss of a loved person in the planning of their funeral. It could be that 'Death Cafe' equips people in ways from which the church could learn. On the other hand, it could be that the church realise that theirs is a distinctive message that needs to be communicated in different ways. If Death Cafe culture impacts people's reactions and resourcing for this inevitability, the church might need to up its game.

Take Philomena, for example. Next week, a Death Cafe will open near to me in Hampstead. Philomena, a Marie Curie volunteer, will become an an End-of-Life-Doula when she has finished her training. She describes herself as a friend at death or ‘death missionary’ and will be  available to listen to next week when this venture launches in an upstairs floor of Cafe Rouge on Monday 9th June.

Death Cafe's mission statement is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'.

Jesus comes with a message that is not dissimilar in John 10:10 about a fullness to life although 'making the most' would only describe an aspect of what he means.

It might be cynical to detect a note of the individualism in a statement like 'make the most of.' Afterall, Death Cafe advocates do believe that it is the rise in individualism and loneliness that has in part led to death becoming such a taboo and such an underground conversation. 

Death Cafe is wanting to bring death into the light.

I wonder where their aims and those of the church overlap.

Afterall, their finite is in brackets.
Are they hinting here at an openness to a life that continues?
Is there room for an exploration of the Christian belief in eternal life at a death cafe?

I wonder what offering the light of Christ at a Death Cafe might look like.

I wonder what Christian mission might look like into a context such as this one. 

Hopefully it would begin with a good deal of listening.

1 comment:

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

If the taboo of death is increasing, it is only because individuals are living longer and contact with death is lessening. What is good is that death when it comes is increasingly being met by biographical funerals. Unitarians do good funerals, based on the person, as do humanists. I once thought that funerals would be the most resistant to dropping religious dogma, due to superstition lingering, but it seems I was wrong. People aren't interested in beliefs of a former age, such as resurrection (whatever that is) but are interested in recognising the contribution the person made to life, that they were alive and made a difference, even if small and particular.


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