Terry mentioned a report last week about Michael Jackson possibly choosing "plastination" as a grim sort of immortality. Now USA Today's Lifeline Live blog reports that speculation has continued about Jackson's burial plans.
Both posts reminded me of this brief item at Utne Reader's Spirituality blog, which mentions a greener version of cremation that promoters call promession.
The Utne item links, in turn, to The Walrus magazine. Both items dwell on the green virtue of promession as opposed to cremation. Neither really explores the spiritual questions involved, especially of how to treat a dead body with respect.
As the YouTube video atop this post explains, promessa involves freezing a corpse; using vibration to break it into small pieces; freeze-drying the pieces; removing any metal bits; and burying the post-human nuggets in a biodegradable container.
The folks at Promessa, which promotes the burial method, have thought about various religions' teachings on the afterlife, and they conclude that such issues are less clear (and ultimately less important) than what happens to a dead body:
Many of the ideas and ponderings that dwell within the inner self are, however, thoughts about there being some kind of continuation of life, even after we have taken our last breath. And there is no such thing as right or wrong in these matters. It is important that every individual is allowed to have his or her faith, since no one really has access to the answers. On the other hand, we know what happens to a body that is no longer alive. Here we have answers. But despite this we don't want to accept the given rules, instead we have devised unbiological routines concerning our last resting place.
Oh yes, there is an additional religion element to all this: The Church of Sweden holds a 5 percent stake in Promessa. Say what you will about the Church of Sweden, but it cannot be accused of cutting corners in pursuit of green purity.
For what it's worth: I'm most drawn to Natural Burial, which finds the via media between embalming and cremation and leaves the steps of recycling to nature.