Monday, May 15, 2006

Civilizational rites

I have lately been participating in arranging a Finnish Pietist funeral. It has been very strange to witness the added meaning and form associated with the process: a death gets its proportionate place, its formalized, proper meaning - a certain warmth is thus added to the proceedings. I have very hard time imagining the same with a purely materialist point of view. What really could be said in that case, what would be the point of saying it? With the Pietist tradition there are universal echoes, satisfactory form and proportion. This is very far removed from any crude literal interpretation of Christianity, but the sad, beautiful Finnish folk melodies easily reach beyond any primitive fundamentalism. Such universal songs of hope and homesickness. In so far as we these days lack these regulated, proportionate ceremonies, these signifying meanings, we lack civilization itself. And that surely is not a sustainable state of affairs.

2 comments:

helsinkian said...

Here we are discussing death and protestant funerals. It feels almost like it's that time of the year; my folks will be preparing for a funeral as well. Death is a visitor that comes to everyone with a relentless precision. Funeral is a good occasion for reflection, a sobering moment to contemplate our values and traditions.

stockholm slender said...

It has certainly felt strange - we know, theoretically, that we are mortal, but to lose the first really loved one... At least for me it has been a shattering experience as aware as I thought I was about the harsh conditions we have here accepted.