Black Hole Funeral

BBC Hereford and Worcester News recently reported a woman’s funeral which had a Star Wars theme. The coffin bearers had obligingly dressed as stormtroopers and the Funeral Director as Darth Vader. You may be reading this and thinking ‘what great fun’. I just rolled my eyes. Culturally, funerals are increasingly about 'celebration' rather that mourning. If this dead woman loved that particular film plot, why not use it to mark her passing?

I think this funeral- and there have been others like it and shall be many more to come- is a symptom of the national rejection of our Christian heritage. I don’t just mean that the funeral is not Christian, for that much is obvious. Rather, the spiritual emptiness bequeathed us by seventy years of secularisation has now come home to roost. As we continue to die and seek meaning, we find it not in ancient scriptures and millennia of tradition, but 1970s movie franchises. I would also suggest it is the depth of self-indulgence. Using one’s estate to fund a memorable funeral, to be the talk of the town, to advertise to an admiring world one’s taste in music or film, is tiresome and sybaritic. You liked Lord of the Rings: great. You enjoyed Frank Sinatra: whoopie doo. Meat Loaf’s lyrics perfectly describe your world view: super. *Yawns*.

Perhaps I am culturally snobbish. I should be more accommodating, more understanding. Yes, let those who lived without hope die without hope. Those who reject Him who is the Meaning of Life may seek substitutes where they can. As Arnold wrote in Dover Beach:

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath.

The sea of faith might be out, but it doesn’t stop the tide of fearsome emptiness washing ashore all manner of tasteless and tacky detritus. As Jesus Himself said: "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60)

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.