Thursday, 8 March 2012

Cult of the dead

Great Cressingham
© Godric Godricson
The study of burials and the origins of burials has sparked interest in Christianity as the embodiment  of a cult of the dead.

Christianity is heavily involved with death and this observation comes from a clear association between the Church as a place of worship and the cemetery as a place of burial. Christians have tried to explain their fixation on death, pain and suffering by pointing to the Resurrection as a sign of triumph over death. However, I recently came across the idea of the Christian God as being 'suicidal' in nature and this deeply disturbing thought brings us back to a cult of death. Is the God of the Christians a suicidal deity that became fixated on blood and sacrifice at an early point and did this obsession with death become the core of Christian doctrine? I have no axe to grind in this matter although I do have an idea and I want to pursue this idea for a while and see what happens.

Early researchers have  often made broad generalisations about the cult of the dead, ancestor worship and the saints as a manifestation of earlier deities although without much study.  Generalisations have been made without any methodology.  This cult of the dead is, however, already evidenced in this blog and the more I submit pictures and 'narrative' the more I become aware of the affinity of Christianity, death and the nature of Christianity as a cult of the dead. Just look at the proximity of the living and the dead in many villages and centres of population.

Audrey Haggard
© Godric Godricson
I’m not suggesting that Christianity is merely another “mystery religion” and I’m not suggesting that Christianity is ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’, instead I am saying that Christianity has an agenda that is not always clear and explained. It is as if  an ancient cult of the dead went on to fuel a world religion rather than a religion forming a cult of the dead. This may be pure semantics although I sense that we  have a cause and effect here.

Paganism has many more links with Christianity than  apologists for Christianity would like to acknowledge and this affinity is stronger within Catholicism than more puritan religion, although the cult of the dead is more evident  in the Evangelical  splinter groups than Christians would like to acknowledge.

It is time to see the cemeteries beside the Church as centres of ancestor worship, history and art rather than just cemeteries. Why else would Christians pay so much time and attention to burying the dead so close to the living. The work of Edwin Chadwick shows how bad the situation was in the 19th Century. In this period the living sank wells for  water beside cemeteries and actually absorbed the dead through drinking water, they sat in pews above the vaults of the dead and they walked past stinking burial grounds to gain access to the Church.  The pollution of the environment by this obsession with death is apparent and evident and shines through Chadwick’s work until the worst excesses were swept away by rational secular Authorities.

Over the next few months I want to return to the idea of Christianity as a cult of the dead and see what happens.

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