A fascinating article at Bloomberg.com caught my attention recently. It was the kind of article that puts the power of the Cross into focus, once again. t involves a conversation about death.
Apparently there is a new fad engulfing our culture where friends and family gather together to talk about – of all subjects – death. A project called "Let's Have Dinner and Talk about Death" is trying to start a national conversation about death and dying in this country and around the world. The project stemmed from a Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) course at The University of Washington.
According to their web site, the group is made up of "everyone from oncologists, gravestone designers, palliative care experts, authors, curators, health care CEOs and artists to spark a powerful movement around facing death and planning for end of life. We're putting out a call to action for people to start a conversation with their friends or family about death- and we're giving people the tools to make it easier, more meaningful, and even fun."
The organization alleges that 75 percent of Americans want to die at home but only around 25 percent do. Therefore, they conclude, the time has come to have intimate, open conversation about death and dying over dinner because, they say, "the dinner table is the most forgiving place for difficult conversation. The ritual of breaking bread creates warmth and connection, and puts us in touch with our humanity. It offers an environment that is more suitable than the usual places we discuss end of life."
On August 24, 300 individuals planned 'death dinners' in at least a dozen countries around the globe and several cities in America. It is the hope of the project that the August events will jumpstart a vigorous discussion about end-of-life decisions.
Knowing some of the key leaders in this 'death over dinner' project sheds light on the worldview of this movement. Key names include Ram Dass, a contemporary spiritual teacher who is Jewish by ethnicity but Hindu by choice. He was an associate of Timothy Leary – the Harvard professor who tried to teach a generation about the benefits of 'dropping acid'; Frank Ostaseski, a Buddhist teacher and founder of the Zen Hospice Foundation; David Duncan, a commentator and correspondent for NPR; a cast member from an MTV show; and Lesley Hazleton, a woman who describes herself as an agnostic Jew who refers to herself as the Accidental Theologist.
Here is truth. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). We are all going to die. Any discussion of death that excludes the reality that each of us will someday stand before the Great Judge of all mankind is a markedly incomplete conversation. For those who have received the gift of eternal life, because of what Christ did on the cross, there is no fear. For those who have rejected the gift Jesus offers each of us, death is something to be greatly feared.
Planning how we would like to end our earthly pilgrimage is important but it pales in comparison to deciding where we plan to spend eternity. Now, that is dinner conversation worth having.