Funerals in the Secular Age

Funerals in the Secular Age

Funerals provoke a clash of cultures. Perhaps nowhere is the secular age felt more forcefully than at a church memorial service. The prayers, hymns, and testimonies are respected for their aesthetic and therapeutic value. In the moment they are inspirational. But when the pastor begins to preach the mood of the audience shifts. There is a restlessness, visible in shifting bodies, invisible in shifting minds. In a Christ-haunted culture, the audience anticipates the gospel, but is unsettled by it. Skeptics stiffen. Nominal Christians daydream. Teenagers roll their eyes. The preacher’s familiar words are no longer believed, but tolerated as an old custom.