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First Crematorium opens in Greece over Church objections

Alpha60

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https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/first-crematorium-opens-in-greece-over-church-objections-11990110

This is extremely sad.  The destruction of the human body in this pagan rite is evil and pernicious.
 

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Yes very sad. Thank you for sharing. It is almost as if there is seldom any teaching to anyone about the body being the temple of the Lord. This touches on probably one of the most important issues for me.

I have an infatuation for cemeteries. They tell the most amazing stories and I can spend hours there reading head stones and looking at birth and death years. I grew up with 160 acre cemetery practically in my backyard. There are over 150,000 people buried in just that cemetery alone not to mention others around the area. All of my family is there and I never make a trip home without spending at least a day visiting my loved ones, relatives and friends. I am thankful for the tradition of adoring these gravesites that my parents instilled in me and my family. I am afraid it is lost on the younger generation.

I think the thing that breaks my heart the most is when I go to a cemetery and I see gravesites that apparently have not been taken care of in decades, as if they are forgotten. I wonder who will care for the gravesite of my grandparents in 50 to 100 years? With this growing infatuation with cremation, it is sad to think in a few hundred years, almost all cemeteries will become haunts.
 

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I have relatives that intend to be cremated.    :(
 

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Lord, have mercy.

noahzarc1 said:
I think the thing that breaks my heart the most is when I go to a cemetery and I see gravesites that apparently have not been taken care of in decades, as if they are forgotten. I wonder who will care for the gravesite of my grandparents in 50 to 100 years? With this growing infatuation with cremation, it is sad to think in a few hundred years, almost all cemeteries will become haunts.
Which speaks so much about the vanity of this world... These people may have once been very, very important...
 

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Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.

I don't agree with cremation, both for spiritual and environmental reasons, but the situation it will be (partly) replacing is ugly as it is.
 

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Arachne said:
Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.

I don't agree with cremation, both for spiritual and environmental reasons, but the situation it will be (partly) replacing is ugly as it is.
Americans are impressed by the age of European buildings.

Europeans are impressed by the age of American cemetery monuments and the undisturbed graves therewith.
 

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RaphaCam said:
Lord, have mercy.

noahzarc1 said:
I think the thing that breaks my heart the most is when I go to a cemetery and I see gravesites that apparently have not been taken care of in decades, as if they are forgotten. I wonder who will care for the gravesite of my grandparents in 50 to 100 years? With this growing infatuation with cremation, it is sad to think in a few hundred years, almost all cemeteries will become haunts.
Which speaks so much about the vanity of this world... These people may have once been very, very important...
Trust me the irony is lost on no one. It is said the richest place in the area is the cemetery. However there are also many stories a cemetery can paint and I for one appreciate the history they hold.
 

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Meh as someone who's family can't afford a cemetery burial and as such most of my dead relatives were cremated I do not see the big fuss against cremation, I doubt God does as well. 
 

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Avdima said:
Meh as someone who's family can't afford a cemetery burial and as such most of my dead relatives were cremated I do not see the big fuss against cremation, I doubt God does as well.
It’s a pagan ritual that has always been rejected by the Orthodox Church.  In the Byzantine Empire it was indeed punishable by death, and while I am not supporting that, by any means, the fact that the Byzantines viewed it with such horror I think should be indicative of the attitude we should take towards this horrific practice.  Especially considering it is forced on the Orthodox Christians in the Orient.  This forced cremation in Japan represents religious persecution against our faith by Buddhists and is something I feel the Orthodox should not stand for.

RaphaCam said:
Arachne said:
Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.
That's really just delayed and even sadder cremation...  :-\
It is negligent and unacceptable, but it lacks the violence that characterizes the intentional incineration of a human body.  Decomposition is a fact and it is natural.  On the other hand, the burning of the body is unnatural and a violation.
 

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There are multiple companies out there now that make diamonds out of cremation ashes for their loved ones to wear as jewelry.  Lord have mercy.
 

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Alpha60 said:
RaphaCam said:
Arachne said:
Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.
That's really just delayed and even sadder cremation...  :-\
It is negligent and unacceptable, but it lacks the violence that characterizes the intentional incineration of a human body.  Decomposition is a fact and it is natural.  On the other hand, the burning of the body is unnatural and a violation.
But bones are still a human body, even if they don't look like it. This reminds me of when I went to a museum with a friend (who is deeply religious) and we decided to admire some archaeological material. As I crossed myself after seeing a piece of a lithic skull, she was pretty puzzled at it, as if it were as human as the pottery around.
 

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PorphyriosK said:
There are multiple companies out there now that make diamonds out of cremation ashes for their loved ones to wear as jewelry.  Lord have mercy.
That’s... I don’t even know.  :eek:
 

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PorphyriosK said:
There are multiple companies out there now that make diamonds out of cremation ashes for their loved ones to wear as jewelry.  Lord have mercy.
Grandma will always be on my heart.


...

God forgive me, I had to.
 

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Arachne said:
Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.

I don't agree with cremation, both for spiritual and environmental reasons, but the situation it will be (partly) replacing is ugly as it is.
Would this be possible alternative?
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/oct/18/the-future-of-burial-inside-jerusalems-hi-tech-underground-necropolis

The future of burial: inside Jerusalem's hi-tech underground necropolis

With a dire shortage of land for graves, the holy city is reviving an ancient custom of underground burial – with lift access, LED lighting and golf buggies
 

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Arachne said:
Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.

I don't agree with cremation, both for spiritual and environmental reasons, but the situation it will be (partly) replacing is ugly as it is.
Sorry but that is not entirely true. In monasteries outsided and inside Mount Athos, the buried monks/nuns are also exhumed after three years and their bones are stored in the ossuary, are the cemeteries on Athos for instance, overcrowded too? 
The monks call ossuary, "Philosophical school":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qUK0NzxlGg

I have experienced personally the exhumation of the body of both my grandmas and of my maternal grandfather, it's one of the most humbling experiences an Orthodox Christian may experience in their lives. It makes you ponder of your own death, and of its mystery.
The main problem with cremating the human body is that it leaves no relics, cremation denies the sacred tradition of the presence of saintly holy relics
 

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Apostolos said:
Arachne said:
Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.

I don't agree with cremation, both for spiritual and environmental reasons, but the situation it will be (partly) replacing is ugly as it is.
Sorry but that is not entirely true. In monasteries outsided and inside Mount Athos, the buried monks/nuns are also exhumed after three years and their bones are stored in the ossuary, are the cemeteries on Athos for instance, overcrowded too?
Monastic custom doesn't change the situation in urban cemeteries, but eh, you tried.
 

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IreneOlinyk said:
Arachne said:
Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.

I don't agree with cremation, both for spiritual and environmental reasons, but the situation it will be (partly) replacing is ugly as it is.
Would this be possible alternative?
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/oct/18/the-future-of-burial-inside-jerusalems-hi-tech-underground-necropolis

The future of burial: inside Jerusalem's hi-tech underground necropolis

With a dire shortage of land for graves, the holy city is reviving an ancient custom of underground burial – with lift access, LED lighting and golf buggies
This sounds good to me.  The only downside is interference with subway construction; underground cemetaries mist be carefully planned so as to not inadvertantly obstruct rapid transit corridors.  Fun fact: the London Underground in a few places is routed around “plague pits”, at least according to legend (presumably the subsurface lines only, such as the Metropolitan, District, and Circle lines, as opposed to the deep level tube lines like the Central, Victoria, Bakerloo, Northern, Jubilee, Piccadilly and my personal favorite, the “drain”, also known as the Waterloo and City ).  But the tube lines are deep underground, and it is undesirable to have to build a metro that far below the surface, and also it would be in my opinion inappropriate for a metro to pass beneath a cemetary regardless of depth (bearing in mind several do this).

You also want to avoid having to relocate cemetaries.  Due to problems with water contamination, the massive Highgate necropolis had to be built in London in the 19th century, with special trains connecting it to the city and providing a service for mourners, and all existing graves from the majority of inner London cemetaries, with some exceptions, relocated there.  I believe this is now the Highgate tube station.  But this station still strikes me as rather less morbid than Golders Green station.  I can’t imagine being one of the tube drivers who has to go to work at a station that is basically in the shadow of a massive crematorium. 
 

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Arachne said:
Greek cemeteries are overcrowded. Unless you own a family plot (practically impossible by now), one is buried for three years, then exhumed and the bones stored in the ossuary. A shed-like building piled floor to ceiling with boxes is nothing to romanticise or even evoke any kind of spirituality. More than half of the boxes are out of reach, so the family members who might want to perform a memorial service can't even see the photo of their beloved. Even the place in the ossuary is rented, and if at some point there is no family left to renew the lease, the bones are taken out and incinerated.
I think the crypt church at the Sedlec Ossuary has the right idea. Use the bones to decorate the church:


I have heard that Athonite monasteries also keep skulls and bones on display, although I have not seen pictures to confirm this. Like the catacomb Christians in ancient Rome, we can keep our loved ones close to us and keep death ever in mind by using their bones in the churches.
 

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Arachne said:
Monastic custom doesn't change the situation in urban cemeteries, but eh, you tried.
And so, because of the municipal authorities milking cemeteries for all their worth, and have made it a prosperous industry, while at the same time avoid moving cemeteries to larger areas outside of the city, we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? The Orthodox Tradition is that the dead are buried. Period. One is free to choose of course, but choosing cremation puts you automatically outside of the Church. That's what the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has declared. One doesn't cherry-pick in the Church
 

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Apostolos said:
One is free to choose of course, but choosing cremation puts you automatically outside of the Church.
Well, well, why so categorically... Someone might believe it )
 

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PorphyriosK said:
There are multiple companies out there now that make diamonds out of cremation ashes for their loved ones to wear as jewelry.  Lord have mercy.
No, I think you have to dig underground in a tunnel. (For example Gold or Diamonds) . . .
 

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Apostolos said:
Arachne said:
Monastic custom doesn't change the situation in urban cemeteries, but eh, you tried.
And so, because of the municipal authorities milking cemeteries for all their worth, and have made it a prosperous industry, while at the same time avoid moving cemeteries to larger areas outside of the city, we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? The Orthodox Tradition is that the dead are buried. Period. One is free to choose of course, but choosing cremation puts you automatically outside of the Church. That's what the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has declared. One doesn't cherry-pick in the Church
Except that (1) no one is trying to pressure the Church to accept cremation, and (2) those who live outside the Church and reject Orthodox tradition don't care what the Synod has declared.
 

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Arachne said:
Apostolos said:
Arachne said:
Monastic custom doesn't change the situation in urban cemeteries, but eh, you tried.
And so, because of the municipal authorities milking cemeteries for all their worth, and have made it a prosperous industry, while at the same time avoid moving cemeteries to larger areas outside of the city, we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? The Orthodox Tradition is that the dead are buried. Period. One is free to choose of course, but choosing cremation puts you automatically outside of the Church. That's what the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has declared. One doesn't cherry-pick in the Church
Except that (1) no one is trying to pressure the Church to accept cremation, and (2) those who live outside the Church and reject Orthodox tradition don't care what the Synod has declared.
No-one is trying to pressure the Church yet there are public articles of advocates of cremation who condemn the "anachronistic" and "inhumane" attitude of the Church and try to shape public opinion. But I agree with you, most of these advocates live outside the Church and reject Orthodox tradition already, so obviously they don't care what the Synod has declared. Their influence is big, of course no practicing Orthodox Christian will succumb to these hypocritical accusations.
Interestingly, the most common argument I've heard is "The Love of Christ", that the Church as a Christian institution must practice "The Love of Christ" and to not condemn practices as unchristian. There's a trend they follow which is called αγαπισμός (agapism?); since God is a loving God, nothing should be condemned
 

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Apostolos said:
Arachne said:
Apostolos said:
Arachne said:
Monastic custom doesn't change the situation in urban cemeteries, but eh, you tried.
And so, because of the municipal authorities milking cemeteries for all their worth, and have made it a prosperous industry, while at the same time avoid moving cemeteries to larger areas outside of the city, we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? The Orthodox Tradition is that the dead are buried. Period. One is free to choose of course, but choosing cremation puts you automatically outside of the Church. That's what the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has declared. One doesn't cherry-pick in the Church
Except that (1) no one is trying to pressure the Church to accept cremation, and (2) those who live outside the Church and reject Orthodox tradition don't care what the Synod has declared.
No-one is trying to pressure the Church yet there are public articles of advocates of cremation who condemn the "anachronistic" and "inhumane" attitude of the Church and try to shape public opinion. But I agree with you, most of these advocates live outside the Church and reject Orthodox tradition already, so obviously they don't care what the Synod has declared. Their influence is big, of course no practicing Orthodox Christian will succumb to these hypocritical accusations.
Interestingly, the most common argument I've heard is "The Love of Christ", that the Church as a Christian institution must practice "The Love of Christ" and to not condemn practices as unchristian. There's a trend they follow which is called αγαπισμός (agapism?); since God is a loving God, nothing should be condemned
Indeed, the same arguments routinely crop up in the West, for example, as reasons why the Church of England or the United Methodist Church, which have thus far almost miraculously held out, ought to get into the business of homosexual weddings.

I think we are all in agreement here that cremation is bad.  I myself will admit to disliking it far more than most members of OCNet, to the extent that I wish a program could be set up for a temporary mausoleum in Primorsky Krai, Sakhalin or the Aleutians, in which the remains of the Japanese Orthodox could be interred until such time as the Japanese Government ends its policy of mandatory cremation.  Such a facility could perhaps be shared with the Jewish and Mormon communities in Japan for cost-saving purposes.
 

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Alpha60 said:
I think we are all in agreement here that cremation is bad.
No, at least one of us think you all are crazy for how you're talking, I'm just getting better about choosing my battles.
 

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Asteriktos said:
Alpha60 said:
I think we are all in agreement here that cremation is bad.
No, at least one of us think you all are crazy for how you're talking, I'm just getting better about choosing my battles.
None of us are suggesting that persons involuntarily cremated, or even voluntarily cremated, are denied salvation, just as it is not church doctrine to say people blown up in explosives accidents or who fall victim to a nightmarish chemical accident will not be resurrected.  Indeed even if one were completely annhilated by antimatter, God could still resurrect one bodily.  Rather, the problem with cremation is that it is an ugly thing to do to people, the historic patrimony of Paganism, from Scandinavia to India to Japan, with a few exceptions such as ancient Egypt and Zoroastrianism, whose religious values draw closer to Christianity (as Fr. Andrew Damick notes, the ancient Egyptians got the idea right of a living incarnate God but merely misidentified that person as Pharoah rather than Christ, and also their idea of an afterlife was closer to the truth than the views of Hellenic Paganism or indeed corrupt Sadducean Judaism, whereas Zoroastrianism shares many features with Christianity and the faith of ancient Israel, looking somewhat like a syncretic position between the Hebrew religion and Hinduism).  Of course, what Egypt did and the Zoroastrians do isn’t exactly “kosher” by Orthodox Christian standards or indeed by Judaic standards, but it is closer than the disturbing practices of the Roman, Nordic, Hindu and Buddhist religions.

I should also note that every loved one I have lost has been cremated owing to its popularity, and of those still alive, more will likely be cremated, so I sincerely pray it will not affect their salvation, and I also reject that belief.  Nor does the fact of their cremation, which I in no respect witnessed, advise my disdain for it.  Indeed I might well tolerate it if I were still a Protestant, but I always found something uniquely spooky about it.  I have to confess I am also not comfortable, nor, from what I understand, is Orthodoxy, with embalming.  And there are some terribly unethical practices in the funeral business.  I am leaning towards a view that the Orthodox Church should operate its own funeral homes in the US and certain other countries in order to ensure decent, reverent and economical treatment of the deceased, so that bereaved families are not hit with extortionate bills.
 
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