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Western culture often prides itself on its openness. Yet death remains a taboo subject for many, or at least one that is skirted around rather prosaically in many situations.
However, the one thing we human beings can be certain of is that we will all die.
Traditionally, religion and other spiritual paths have been committed to enabling us to face death positively, not simply because of particular and differing beliefs about what might follow, but in order to be able to live without fear and make the most of life.
In the Christian tradition, the promise of 'life beyond life' (as it is better put) is not about denying death, but an act of trust in the life-giving possibilities of God. This is true also of the separation, pain and loss that death causes, and the injustice that occasions it in untimely ways.
Baptism is about being taken into the waters of death and raised out of them so that "death shall have no dominion" over the way we love, life and life.
There is a lot to think and talk about when it comes to death and dying. But humour and defiance have their place, too. At 'Death Cafés' people come together in a relaxed and safe setting to discuss the subject, to drink tea and to eat some delicious cake.
It might sound unusual, but a natter can the darkness out of the subject, whether you believe in life beyond death (and life) or not.
Two such Cafés are taking place as part of the 2013 Just Festival, both at Punjab’n De Rasoi on Leith Walk, EH6 5DT.
The first is this afternoon, 3-5pm, Saturday 10th August. The second is next Saturday, 17th August, between the same times.
On both occasions, Punjab’n De Rasoi will provide traditional refreshments served at a Sikh funeral.
Just Festival, also known simply as Just, runs from 2-26 August 2013. It is based at St John's Church (corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road) and some 27 other venues, and combines artistic and performance style events with conversations, talks, films exhibits and other ways of exploring how to live together creatively in a mixed-belief society.
* Ekklesia is a sponsor of Just Festival. Our news, reporting and comment is aggregated at: www.ekklesia.co.uk/justfestival
© Anna Schwoub is a writer and academic from Northumbria specialising in the link between culture, religion and social change.Tweet