Ritual: A Changing Way of Death

One of the most memorable things about the funeral of Dwight David Eisenhower (see THE NATION) was its quiet dignity. The brief Biblical service and the confident hymns bespoke the man who had chosen them before his death; like him, they were modest, realistic and hopeful. Yet, in a nation whose overblown funeral rites were once the proper subject of mockery in Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death, such a straightforward farewell is no longer the exception. Christian funerals in the U.S. are changing, and they now tend to emphasize the...

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