Kaufman’s chapter on “Transforming Time” presented many truths most of do not want to think about. Even though we all know the inevitably of death; most of us cling to life. This is not an unusual phenomenon, but what is compelling is the perception of death. Allowing your loved one to die a “good” death verses a “bad” one. The author presented two illustrations of families faced with a loved one who is dying. One such illustration was Mrs. Brown and her husband. Mrs. Brown who had “been married fifty-six years” noted her husband was “the only thing I have.” (page 111) In making this statement she acknowledged that she wanted to hold on to him for as long as she could. The perplexing element arises, when asked by the medical team, what life sustaining measures to take; her response was “I’ll leave it to God’s will.” Unfortunately, for a medical team this is not a definitive response. The uncertainty of what to do ...view middle of the document...
As a preacher, however, I do think it is necessary to reflect on it.
Understanding the changing trends in hospitalization and how it has changed so dramatically since the 1960’s. The topic of death is more “openly discussed between physicians and patients.” (page 94) This open dialogue supposedly gives the patient the opportunity to have a controlled plan to dying. Considering the hospitals factor in cost, resources, and other mitigating factors, does the patient truly have control? The patients, who fall in the cycle of the “revolving door pathway” who are released and readmitted, released and readmitted; do they have control? Even though it was not mentioned in the reading (Dr. Kevorkian page 98 was) would the measures taken by Dr. Kevorkian be viewed legally as assisted death; instead of assisted suicide, if the patient truly had control?
The notion of being able to communicate with the dead is not foreign to most religious traditions. Clark’s section on “Spiritualism” mentions the Kongolese and their belief in spiritual communication. This ability to communicate with the dead puts great credence in the hands of Spiritualists. “Spiritualist are those who “believe they can pierce the veil between the spiritual and material words” (page 77) and are able to hear from the dead. This line of thinking has sparked the interest of many; making shows such as Medium and Ghost Whisperer a success in mainstream media. There is also the rising “obsession with vampires and zombies.” Clark contends how the spiritualist tradition is not often regarded in the African-American traditional Church setting but provides evidence of the inclusiveness of this thought.
But I would ask; Is this concept of spiritualism, the one which embodies zombies and vampires, the same concepts associated with African tradition? African tradition upheld “beliefs in nature spirits, the continued regard of dead ancestors…and a tradition of communicating with invisible beings through the possession trance.” (page 80) Could one argue there is a vast difference in this train of thought from what has become the contemporary notion of spiritualism?