Discussing Death

Liberty of DeathIt was trendy a generation ago to talk about ‘sexual repression’. The idea being that until the Sexual Revolution, the topic of sex was something that could not be raised in society.
Everyone knew it was going on, but there was a silent conspiracy of silence.

It seems that death has taken over this mantle.
We are struggling with ‘Death repression’

There is something strangely similar in the experiences of speaking about sex and death.
When we hold forth on either topic we are transgressing social boundaries and therefore consciously taking on ourselves a position ‘outside’ society.

Yet at the same time we are directly addressing society about issues that stand close to the core of how we define our identity. We are talking about what it means to be human.
Speaking about sex or death draws us inevitably into a relationship with society that is something akin to prophetic speech.

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3 thoughts on “Discussing Death

  1. On a slightly tangential note, is this not why people find the goth subculture so threatening. I'm not sure how goths define themselves these days, but I got the impression that at least for some it was a reaction against white, middle-class repression of the unpleasant realities of life–especially death.

    I've sometimes commented with friends of mine who are connected with goth culture that Christians seem to have a surprising amount in common with goths.

    Of course, gothic shock-therapy approaches are a long way removed from the revivalists' emphasis on dying well.

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  2. there's an interesting thought.
    I think that identity/power relations are at the heart of why subcultures develop. The Goth is defining his/her identity through stepping outside 'normal' society. This identification gains power through its association with death. The Goth has claimed the freedom to associate with death, something which is the subject of taboo in 'normal' society. There is a rhetoric of liberation at work, similar to the sexual revolution and the 'hippie' subculture of the 60's.
    The important question for Christians is whether our freedom to talk about sex and death is merely an identity forming discourse, situating ourselves outside 'normal' society – or is it rooted in a real, fundamental change in the nature of sexuality and dying?

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  3. The simple truth is, in life, lots of people understand what to accomplish, but very few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must act

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