Unequal endsMar 20th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ministry
“Would Judas have been allowed to be buried?”
“He was buried. That’s what we just read. They bought the Potter’s Field.”
“Yes, but if he had died and the church had to bury him; would they let him be buried?”
“Oh, I understand now. No. They wouldn’t let suicides be buried in consecrated ground”.
“I don’t know why not”.
“Maybe they thought they were sinners.”
“Maybe, but aren’t we all?”
“Do they allow it now?”
“Yes, but only for a the last century or so”.
Why were suicides barred from Christian burial? I could not remember.
The inquirer will have gone home from another class with another to add to his list of unanswered questions.
There was a temptation to answer that whether you were buried depended on your social standing. Images of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet came to mind. The two gravediggers, cast as clowns, discuss the funeral rites for Ophelia, who has drowned herself
Is she to be buried in Christian burial that
wilfully seeks her own salvation?
I tell thee she is: and therefore make her grave
straight: the crowner hath sat on her, and finds it
How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her
Why, ’tis found so.
It must be ‘se offendendo;’ it cannot be else. For
here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly,
it argues an act: and an act hath three branches: it
is, to act, to do, to perform: argal, she drowned
Nay, but hear you, goodman delver,–
Give me leave. Here lies the water; good: here
stands the man; good; if the man go to this water,
and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he
goes,–mark you that; but if the water come to him
and drown him, he drowns not himself: argal, he
that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
But is this law?
Ay, marry, is’t; crowner’s quest law.
Will you ha’ the truth on’t? If this had not been
a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’
To succumb to the temptation to point to the church treating differently would have been to express prejudice, but isn’t there equal prejudice in avoiding the truth?