Ignorant Reporting on Greek Orthodox Cremation Objections

Some ignorant reporting about a new law in Greece allowing cremation, from the Murdoch-owned News.com.au:

GREECE’S highest court has approved a government move to legalise cremation, brushing aside complaints from the powerful Orthodox church that it was un-Greek and could hamper the resurrection of the dead…[The church] says bodies which God created should not be burned as this will prevent their resurrection on Judgement Day.

The AP, more ambiguously, states that the Orthodox Church believes “that it is contrary to the notion of the resurrection of the dead”, while Kathimerini has a more sensible explanation:

The Church of Greece opposes cremation for believers, arguing that Orthodox traditions only allow for burial.

That’s better, although it begs the question of “why?”.

I’m not a fan of Greek Orthodoxy’s tendency to demand secular law follow its religious teachings, but in fairness it should be pointed out that there is in fact no doctrine in the religion which says that a person whose body is destroyed by fire cannot be resurrected – otherwise no believer would dare to risk flying in an areoplane, as well as numerous other absurdities. Burial is, though, a matter of tradition, and respect for the symbolism of resurrection. The Encyclopedia of Cremation – which can be consulted via Google Books – has an entry on Greek Orthodox rejection of cremation:

Saint Simeon, archbishop of Thessalonica…wrote: ‘and we place the corpse in the grave and give it to the earth with prayers, fulfilling the divine commandment, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” and thus we proclaim the resurrection.’

…Burial is a symbol, proof and confession of faith and hope in the immortality of the soul and in the resurrection…In addition, graves mark a place as a motherland

…Orthodox Christians hope to benefit from the grace which streams from the uncorrupted relics of the saints.

…However, no one should think that anyone who is cremated will not be raised from the dead and will escape the second coming of the Lord.

In the Catholic world, Thomas Aquinas considered the hypothetical problem of a cannibal who had only ever eaten human flesh, with parents who had followed the same practice. Such a person’s body would consequently be made up totally from other human bodies; what would happen then at the resurrection? Aquinas resolved the issue by noting that the particles of a body constantly change over time, and so a resurrected body need not be made of the same matter as the original. Bertrand Russell describes this as a “comforting thought”.

Satanic Panic in South Africa

A report from South Africa:

Although Satanism is generally regarded as an “underground movement”, there are various signs parents can look out for if they suspect their child is involved in the “hidden curriculum”.

…Dr Attie Lamprecht, a senior superintendent at the SAPS detectives’ head office, who specialises in harmful religious practices, urged love, acceptance and communication within the family if parents want to protect their children from Satanism.

…Dr Ado Krige, chairman of the Extreme Freedom Foundation which seeks to prevent drug abuse and the spread of Satanism in schools, said drugs, violent music and sex all contribute to young people becoming involved in Satanism.

Both men warn of “danger signs”, such as “a rebellion against authority, compulsive lying and becoming emotionally detached from the parent” and “rebellion against the mother of the family in particular, and Jesus Christ. They also become defensive and withdrawn.”

The Extreme Freedom Foundation has a website here; it offers drugs counselling but is also heavily evangelistic in character; Krige is an ex-drug addict who became a Christian in prison, and he then “spent more than three years working undercover to expose syndicates.” He has also written a book, a blurb for which begins:

This easy reading book is aimed at teenagers and parents. It explains why there has been a revival in these modern times in ancient occult cultures such as Wicca. It explains how New Age philosophy…

A following “read more” button doesn’t work.

Lamprecht, meanwhile, is a detective with the Occult Related Crimes unit, which has featured on this blog previously; its founder, Kobus Jonker, insisted that only police officers who shared his religious beliefs were suitable members. According to a statement on a Christian website:

He is a registered Specialist Councillor with a Masters of Arts in Sociology specialising in Narrative Therapy.

“When Christ put something in your way, He will equip you to deal with it in a way that His spirit in you becomes visible.”

When you cannot serve with a spirit of modesty and a deep dependence in Christ, get out and reset your focus as the World has probably won a battle/ As a detective I prefer a sober look at things (before other avenues are explored) as I believe the power of decision are seldom transferred without the explicit permission of the individual thus many discourse is a direct result of wrong decision and of a toxic thought process. No permanent and sustainable healing can take place without Christ’s involvement. Spiritual happiness is what we are all after. Unfortunately the boundaries at times become fuzzy and we grab false replacements. Then we starve as one can eat as much candyfloss as the world can throw at you and you will still die of malnutrition.

Back in August, Lamprecht was quoted as saying that

There is probably not a school in South Africa where Satanism does not exist…”It starts with white magic. It goes to gateway religious systems and then to destructive religions. It is pretty prevalent.”

The context for this latest flurry of Satanic panic is the case of Morne Harmse, a mentally-ill teenager who murdered a fellow school-pupil with a samurai sword last month. Apparently Harmse (a loner) claims that “a ghost” told him to become a Satanist, and he committed the crime after becoming convinced that the devil wanted him to do it. Police found some occult-related paraphenalia in his bedroom. There is no indication that he started with “white magic” or that that he had any interest in “gateway religious systems”.

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)