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Author Topic: Is burial a requirement after death?  (Read 2399 times) Average Rating: 0
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SouthSerb99
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« on: November 29, 2007, 11:29:50 AM »

I was looking online but really couldn't find a definitive answer on this question and the only relevant stuff seemed to be with regards to cremation.

My question is, whether an actual burial is a requirement upon death or are we permitted to be placed in an above ground mausoleum (not even sure if that is the right name), but one of those places where you are pushed into a wall?

I found (on the OCA website) some info saying that cremation is permitted under certain specific circumstances and I assume the same would be so for this type of post-death placement.

I guess my question would be, if there is NO specific need to be placed in such a place, other than the reposed individuals preference to be above ground, is it permissible?

Thanks in advance.
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2007, 11:35:26 AM »

I was looking online but really couldn't find a definitive answer on this question and the only relevant stuff seemed to be with regards to cremation.

My question is, whether an actual burial is a requirement upon death or are we permitted to be placed in an above ground mausoleum (not even sure if that is the right name), but one of those places where you are pushed into a wall?

I found (on the OCA website) some info saying that cremation is permitted under certain specific circumstances and I assume the same would be so for this type of post-death placement.

I guess my question would be, if there is NO specific need to be placed in such a place, other than the reposed individuals preference to be above ground, is it permissible?

Thanks in advance.

Above ground burial is permitted.  At St. Tihkons monastery they have a mausoleum behind their "in ground" burial properties.  What Orthodoxy frowns on is cremation except in extra ordinary situations such as Japan.

One example of above ground burial is St. Alexis Toth who is entombed above ground in a sarcophagus at the monastery.   Prior to that he was laid to rest in a marble above ground mausoleum just outside the main church.

« Last Edit: November 29, 2007, 11:40:29 AM by JoeS » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2007, 11:40:38 AM »

It may be one of those things where in ground burial is preferable if possible.  Sort of like the rule against cremation which for economia has been allowed in certain countries under specific conditions.  I spent Thanksgiving week in south Louisiana (Cajun country) and because of the flooding and the soggy ground, above ground individual crypts are the norm.  There are a fair number of Orthodox in New Orleans - I'd expect that their burial sites are the same as the famous New Orleans cemeteries.
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2007, 12:22:27 PM »

What did they say was an allowable reason to cremate?
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2007, 12:25:12 PM »

Yes, I would always assume that we would have exceptions for special circumstances (like Japan and the flooding in the south), but JoeS seems to indicate that an above ground interment is acceptable even if done out of simple preference, rather than need.

I was unaware that it was okay, thanks for the info.
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2007, 12:26:22 PM »

What did they say was an allowable reason to cremate?

In Japan it is apparently the law that all citizens must be cremated (probably a land/space issue). In those circumstances it is deemed permissible according to the OCA website.
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2007, 12:27:00 PM »

What did they say was an allowable reason to cremate?

I can only think of one country that being Japan where land is at a premium and in ground burial is not allowed.  I dont know if Japan authorized mausoleums. Orthodox there have no choice.
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2007, 12:30:26 PM »

I can only think of one country that being Japan where land is at a premium and in ground burial is not allowed.  I dont know if Japan authorized mausoleums. Orthodox there have no choice.

I suppose they could be flown out of the country to be buried in another country... better save your Yen!!!  Shocked
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2007, 12:36:26 PM »

I suppose they could be flown out of the country to be buried in another country... better save your Yen!!!  Shocked

An idea that never occured to me.  Good post.
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2007, 04:15:00 PM »

One must remember the original purposes of  burial  versus cremation was that pagans often cremated as they viewed the body as unnecessary  and would burn it to release the soul or in cases of non-belief in afterlife to rid the earth quickly of the unneeded body.  Orthodox Christians however believe in a bodily resurrection, they view the body a sacred and something that should not be  desecrated or knowingly destroyed as it is God's creation.

The Church has permitted the oeconomia at special times or circumstances for creamation to include at times of plague or pandemics and where it is required by law of the land (as in Japan).  The Greeks due to lack of space  respectfully disentter bodies after they have decomposed and then under the guidance of the priest place the bones in ossuaries under the auspices of the church  several years after the initial burials.

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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2007, 05:00:34 PM »

I had a friend once who challenged me on this point by saying that if God really were to raise the dead, he could do it whether the body was buried or cremated. My response was that Scripture says, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matt. 4:7).

He was a Christian (AoG) but did not believe in the Resurrection.
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2007, 07:19:24 PM »

I had a friend once who challenged me on this point by saying that if God really were to raise the dead, he could do it whether the body was buried or cremated. My response was that Scripture says, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matt. 4:7).

He was a Christian (AoG) but did not believe in the Resurrection.

I assume you are referring to our resurrection as opposed the THE Resurrection of Christ?   Is their theology one in which states that mortal remains will not become glorified at the last judgement, and that only your spiritual bodies will exist?
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2007, 11:25:26 PM »

Yes. I apologise for the errant capital letter. He believed in the Resurrection of Christ, but not in the resurrection of the dead. His idea was of a "spiritual heaven" in which we exist as bodiless spirits.
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2007, 10:26:48 AM »

OK - Stupid question time.

If the physical body is necessary for the resurrection of the dead what about:

#1 - People who burn to death and there's no body left?
#2 - People who have been dead so long and buried in such a way that nothing is left (ashes to ashes and all that)?
#3 - People whose deaths occurred in circumstances where their body is severely compromised?

I'm not "testing" God.  But it seems to me that since the body will (and does) decompose to the point where all of the soft tissue and cartilage and much if not all of the bone disintegrates anyway ... Do you really believe that God needs the earthly body to resurrect the dead?  And if so does that mean only the relatively recently dead or particularly well preserved will be resurrected?
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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2007, 11:40:34 AM »

OK - Stupid question time.

If the physical body is necessary for the resurrection of the dead what about:

#1 - People who burn to death and there's no body left?
#2 - People who have been dead so long and buried in such a way that nothing is left (ashes to ashes and all that)?
#3 - People whose deaths occurred in circumstances where their body is severely compromised?

I'm not "testing" God.  But it seems to me that since the body will (and does) decompose to the point where all of the soft tissue and cartilage and much if not all of the bone disintegrates anyway ... Do you really believe that God needs the earthly body to resurrect the dead?  And if so does that mean only the relatively recently dead or particularly well preserved will be resurrected?

We all believe that on the last day our bodies will rise from the dead and face the final judgement.  The state of these bodies will not be the mortal bodies we had during our life here on earth but bodies in a special state.  Obviously, if one's body was cremated or destroyed in a horrific flash of light such as an atom bomb where you body in fact vaporizes, we wouldnt be able to raise that body would we.  However, on the last day the raizing of our bodies refer to an body of immortality joined again with the soul to face the glory of a new earth or the torments of hell.

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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2007, 04:04:27 PM »

If the physical body is necessary for the resurrection of the dead what about:
If.

God has promised that there will be a resurrection of the dead. Therefore, we will die, and we will then be raised from the dead. The circumstances of death do not matter; nothing we do can thwart God's promises.

(BTW, there's a huge difference between your body being burned in a fire accidentally and testing God by choosing to be cremated to see whether he can still resurrect you).
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2007, 05:42:29 PM »

I suppose they could be flown out of the country to be buried in another country... better save your Yen!!!  Shocked

Not to be difficult, but there is a strong Japanese custom of the 'family' village/hometown/burial place.  There is a festival in the Summer "O-Bon" where the family that has passed on is remembered, and welcomed back for a visit, similar to the Day of the Dead in Mexico.  There are markers that are still tended and prayed at after centuries I'm told.  I can tell you that William Adams' grave is still marked and remembered as are those of other non-Japanese.  How much more so are the places ones parents and grandparents and perhaps children are buried.

 It is easy to say "just fly them to another county to bury" but what are some of the things that entails?  First finding a country that is willing to take a foreigner for burial. Next, the cost could be prohibitive. Then there's the idea of not being able to visit the grave, to pay respects, to tend it as is the custom; how would they know if it would be treated with respect by strangers? 

Also, the tradition of cremation in Japan is Very Old.  The Heian period literature has many instances of deaths and cremation and mourning customs.  It is not just a matter of not much room though that is part of it now.  There is only so much land on the islands and much of it is needed for the living to inhabit and work and grow food while other parts are not really habitable.

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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2007, 05:47:21 PM »

Why is cremation necessarily "testing" God?  I have read that some people wish to be cremated so that in death they do not 'take up too much' of the Earth, or to have the embalming chemicals and all affecting the soil. 

Then it occurs to me, there are other ways that humans have dealt with their dead.  Some Native American tribes would put the body on a platform or in a tree to 'return' to the world what they had used, as it were. 

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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2007, 06:54:01 PM »

Why is cremation necessarily "testing" God?
It's not, but the spirit in which my friend had given the remark was that if he were cremated, God would have to put all of his bits together in order to resurrect him. It's this spirit that is testing God, not necessarily the cremation itself.

Quote from: myself
(BTW, there's a huge difference between your body being burned in a fire accidentally and testing God by choosing to be cremated to see whether he can still resurrect you).
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2007, 07:30:49 PM »

It's not, but the spirit in which my friend had given the remark was that if he were cremated, God would have to put all of his bits together in order to resurrect him. It's this spirit that is testing God, not necessarily the cremation itself.

At the most fundamental level everything is just protons, neutrons and electrons (or strings and quarks if you prefer).  Why would be more difficult for God to breathe new life into ashes opposed to a decomposed body?  And let's not kid ourselves, unless the general resurrection is occurring within a fairly short time after a person's death there really isn't much of a body left unless they have undergone some sort of mummification process.  Maybe Lenin is readier for the Second Coming than the rest of us  Huh
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« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2007, 08:12:12 PM »

For me, the question of "Can God raise anyone from the dead regardless of the state of their body?" is akin to the inanity of "Can God make a rock so big he can't lift it?" We sing in the Paschal Troparion that Christ "trampled down death by death." Therefore, we will be resurrected. Beyond this, I don't care about the logistics.
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« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2007, 08:20:39 PM »

For me, the question of "Can God raise anyone from the dead regardless of the state of their body?" is akin to the inanity of "Can God make a rock so big he can't lift it?" We sing in the Paschal Troparion that Christ "trampled down death by death." Therefore, we will be resurrected. Beyond this, I don't care about the logistics.
A student philosophy teacher brought this argument up as illegitimate and I was the only theist in the class and i quickly showed her the stupidity of the illogical position she had.
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« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2007, 08:30:37 PM »

You mean the one about the rock, I suppose?
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« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2007, 08:38:28 PM »

Yeah. I cannot believe people still use that.
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« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2007, 09:31:16 PM »

In Japan it is apparently the law that all citizens must be cremated (probably a land/space issue). In those circumstances it is deemed permissible according to the OCA website.

From what I am told by those who have been there, the urns are (or were, it's been a while since) placed on a shelf in the Church narthax.

Yes, it's the law in Japan.  They're not much for non-conformity.
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