December 12, 2016

"Memory is Moral"

Memory is Moral: Why Every Man Should Do His Genealogy

Up until the 20th century, a man’s roots — his ancestry — formed an important part of his identity. ..In the 19th century, it was typical for homes in Europe and the U.S. to prominently display a family Bible that had been passed down through the generations with the birth and/or death dates of ancestors inscribed in the front. Parents and grandparents told children and grandchildren stories about the brave deeds done by their forebearers and the dignified lives previous generations had lived, admonishing them never to act in a way that would sully their lineage.

In the hyper-individualistic and present-focused culture of the 21st century, interest in one’s heritage and family ties has waned — to our ultimate detriment.....Recently, I decided to start researching my family history, and have discovered that genealogy is far more fascinating than I thought. In fact, it’s downright addicting.

You might consider getting started with doing your genealogy for the same simple reason you’d research any historical topic: it’s just plain intrinsically interesting to learn about the past. Yet to me the most compelling reason to do your genealogy is something very different: the fulfillment of an ethical obligation to your ancestors.

You may never have thought about it that way, but memory is moral....Here's Why   
Gratitude Has No Expiration Date....

More Than a Family Tree: The Story of You
InIn our modern era, the idea that we’re self-created individuals pervades our culture.  However, this atomized conception of identity couldn’t be further from the truth.  A large part of who you are today comes directly from your line of ancestors.

For starters, much of both your looks and your temperament were bequeathed to you by virtue of genetic inheritance. That cleft in your chin, and your penchant for melancholy, have been passed down from generation to generation. But besides genetics, you’ve also inherited the choices your forbearers made.....

Understanding details like those in your family history gives you a deeper, fuller appreciation of where you came from and who you are. It makes you think more about the choices you’re making now and how they might affect your posterity.  In getting to know your genealogy, you come to see yourself as part of a much bigger story — one that didn’t start with you, and won’t end with you either. One in which you’re playing a role in shaping the future narrative. It’s not surprising then, that research suggests that when we have intimate knowledge of our family history, we feel more grounded and self-confident compared to individuals who don’t.

Memory Is Redemptive
Every person dies twice.  The first death comes when their body physically expires.  The second occurs when their name is spoken for the last time.

For those people whose posterity does their genealogy, however, their memory never dies. Their name is read and known by he who first compiles a family tree, and by all the individuals who come after and keep sacred the record.

Viewed in this light, genealogy is an act of redemption. Through our family history research, we can save our ancestors — even the lowliest and most apt to be forgotten — from the second death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

Funeral for 24 killed at Coptic church by Islamist suicide bomber

 Funeral Coptic Church

Christians under siege: Funeral for 24 worshippers slaughtered by Islamist suicide bomber as they prayed at Coptic chapel in Cairo

It emerged today that a suicide bomber had walked into the Sunday Mass at the Virgin Mary chapel adjacent to St Mark's Cathedral, seat of the ancient Coptic Christian church.

Original reports had said a bomb had been lobbed over the wall, but Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said today a suicide bomber had been to blame.

Speaking at a state funeral for the victims, Sisi identified the suicide bomber as 22-year-old Shafik Mahmoud Mohamed Mostafa.  He also said three men and a woman had been arrested in connection with the attack.  Sisi called for tighter laws to help deter future attacks.

The coffins of the victims were laid in front of the altar today as the spiritual leader of Egypt's nine million Coptic Christians, Pope Tawadros II, led the service.

No group has claimed responsibility but Julie Lenarz, executive director of the Human Security Centre, said Coptic Christians had been the subject to a 'witch-hunt' since the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the army.  'Both during and after Morsi’s tenure, Coptic Christians have been the subject of a large-scale campaign of violence and terror.

'After the Coptic leadership threw their support behind the military government, Muslim Brotherhood leaders incited their followers to target Christian infrastructure in revenge attacks. Over 50 churches were completely destroyed and an intense and escalating witchhunt against the religious minority has been taken place ever since.  Yesterday’s atrocity was a poignant reminder of the chaos and bloodshed the ideology of Islamism, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, brings to Egypt and beyond.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 AM | Permalink

Dying in Santa's arms

Terminally-ill boy, 5, dies in Santa Claus' arms after fulfilling one last wish to see him 

Eric Schmitt-Matzen plays Santa Claus at 80 different gigs every year, but it was one boy in a Tennessee hospital who he will never forget. Schmitt-Matzen, a mechanical engineer and the president of Packaging Seals & Engineering, had just gotten home from work when he got an urgent phone call.

It was a nurse who worked at the hospital where Schmitt-Matzen, 60, often spreads joy and Christmas cheer. The nurse said there was a 'very sick five-year-old boy' who wanted to see Santa Claus...He told the nurse he would change into his suit and come right away, but she said the boy didn't have much time left.'Your Santa suspenders are good enough,' she then said. 'Come right now.' ...

As the boy's relatives watched and cried from a window looking into the Intensive Care Unit, Schmitt-Matzen walked inside and saw the boy.

'He was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. 'I sat down on his bed and asked, "Say, what's this I hear about you're gonna miss Christmas? There's no way you can miss Christmas. Why, you're my Number One elf!'

The little boy looked up at Schmitt-Matzen and his perfect Santa Claus beard and asked: 'I am?'

Schmitt-Matzen assured the child that he was, and then gave him the toy. "He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.'

The little boy then had a big question for Santa. 'They say I'm gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I'm going?'

Schmitt-Matzen then asked the little boy to do him a 'big favor'. 'When you get there, you tell them you're Santa's Number One elf, and I know they'll let you in,' he told the boy.

'Sure!' Schmitt-Matzen confidently replied.

The little boy sat up and gave him a big hug. He had one more question: 'Santa, can you help me?'

It would be his final words.

'I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there,' Schmitt-Matzen said.

Schmitt-Matzen said everyone outside the room then realized what had just happened, and the little boy's mother ran into the room screaming.

'I handed her son back and left as fast as I could,' he said. 'I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:05 AM | Permalink

Air-conditioned tombs for drug cartel lords

Mexican drug lords spend $300,000 each building air-conditioned tombs with bulletproof glass, elaborate security systems and even living rooms

 Air-Conditioned Tombs Drug Cartel Leaders

Juan Carlos Ayala, philosophy professor at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, who specializes in 'Narco Culture' said the ostentatious graves are important for the drugs lords. He said: 'It's an expression of the power that they once had and a manifestation of their desire for eternity, which is natural in any human being. It's also a demonstration for those who survive them that this man was important.'

New lavish mausoleums were under construction this week, awaiting for more drug cartel honchos to be gunned down. Ayala estimates that some of the crypts cost as much as $290,000 to build
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2016

Grim milestone

Aleppo Cemeteries Run Out of Room for the Dead

A grim milestone in the siege of Aleppo is reported by Sky News, which writes that “bodies are being left to rot on the streets or buried in backyards” because “there is no room left in the cemeteries.”  Officials said a graveyard opened last year was already full while the old cemetery had reached capacity even before the bloody civil war began four years ago.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:17 PM | Permalink

"Ghost Bride" found alive in coffin

Family buys a cadaver to bury with their dead son as a 'ghost bride' but she comes back to LIFE in the coffin

A family unwittingly uncovered an alleged human-trafficker after purchasing a cadaver from him.

The family, from northern China, bought the corpse to bury with their dead son as a 'ghost bride'. But during the burial, they were shocked to hear noises coming from from the coffin, People's Daily reported. They opened up the box to discover that the victim, later found to be a deaf-mute woman who was trafficked to the area, was still alive.

  Ghost Bride Found Alive In Coffin

The 'ghost bride' tradition allows parents of men and women who died before they wed to be married after their death.  In the ritual, two dead bodies are buried together to indicate a marriage has taken place.

According to People's Daily, the family received the body of the woman, identified as Zhao Mei, on July 15. They dressed her up for the burial before they put the body into the coffin and nailed it shut. But during the burial, the family heard slapping sounds coming from within the coffin. 

The terrified family opened the coffin to discover that Zhao was still alive. They reported the incident to the police and Zhao was sent to Linzhou People's Hospital.

Zhao was deaf-mute and was mentally retarded, according to the report. She was unable to provide additional information to the police.

However, through their investigation, officers were able to track down six people allegedly involved in a human trafficking ring. They would use the women for prostitution and sold them on as wives, according to the report.  One of the alleged traffickers, identified by his surname Li, admitted to the police that he gave the deaf-mute woman tranquilizers dissolved in a bottle of water before he delivered 'the body' to the family, according to the report.

Linzhou police also told local media that they rescued five other female victims from the alleged traffickers.One of the alleged traffickers had previously been convicted for trafficking according to Guancha. At present, the group are being held on suspicion of attempted homicide and are awaiting trial according to the Guancha report.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:07 PM | Permalink

December 5, 2016

The Art of Dying Well

The Catholic Church has long had an interest in helping those faced with the prospect of death and dying and a fund of experience to share in was traditionally called the art of dying well, or in Latin, Ars Moriendi.  Sensing this was a good time to look afresh at that tradition, the Catholic Church of England and Wales devised a new website called The Art of Dying Well.

It's an excellent website and not just for Catholics.  A quick excerpt:

The underlying ethos of the art of dying well applies just as well to anyone of any, or no faith, undergoing the final journey. All of us will fall, all of us will need help, and all of us can use the experience we gain in helping people on the climb creatively for the good of others.

There are several sections and short videos in each section.
What is dying well? 

While a good death will mean different things to us all, there are many universal questions

Talking about death

Aside from birth, dying is the only other experience we will all share. So why is it so hard to talk about it? And, why is it so important that we should?

Facing death personally

Living with the knowledge that death is close at hand can take a huge emotional toll. Knowing that your feelings are normal and expected, may help you to cope.

Losing a loved one

Losing someone you love is undeniably painful, but rising above grief and connecting spiritually to something greater might help you to find meaning.

Caring for the dying

This is an excellent website

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:07 PM | Permalink

December 1, 2016

“This is how dying should be”

The Sisters Who Treat the Untreatable. At a Catholic nursing home in New York, comforting patients who are dying of cancer.

Rosary, which is run by Catholic nuns and accepts no payment from the families of those they treat — all of them with incurable cancer. The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-­in-­law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.”
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As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-­in-­law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”

 15Nuns-Ss-Slide-D98L-Blog427
Gillian Laub photographer

The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink