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CMWO 745/845 CHRISTIAN RITUALS AT THE TIME OF DEATH January 5-16, 2009 9-11:50 a.m. Mary Luti Offi ce W204 Email [email protected]; [email protected] o m Offi ce `ph o n e 617 964 1100 ext 232 Ann Plu mley Email aplum l [email protected] m c In this intensive c o urse stude nts will examine and practice selected Christian rituals asso ciated with the en d o f life--e. g., prayers and ritual acti o ns with and f or the dyin g an d their fa milies, funerals an d m e m o rial services, graveside servic es and c o m m ittals. The f oll owing are available in the And o v er Newt o n B o okst ore: 1. Herbert Anders o n and Edward Foley, Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving Together the Human and the Divine 2. Sherwin Nuland, How We Die 3. Meg ory Anders o n, Sacred Dying: Creating Rituals for Embracing the End of Life 4. Your den o m inati o nal w o rship/prayer b o ok, if o n e exists. For exam ple: Episc o pal/An glican: The Book of Common Prayer; UCC: Book of Worship; United Meth o dist: The United Methodist Book of Worship; Presbyterian: Book of Common Worship 5. Your den o m inati o nal Hym nal, if o n e exists At the c o n clusi o n o f the c o urse, stude nts will be able t o: 1. Articulate traditi o nal Christian views o f the "last things" as well as a pers o nal past oral theo l o g y o f dyin g, death, an d life after death; 2. Appreciate an d describe th e shaping po w er of m e m o ry, st ory, and ritual in Christian c o m m u nity; 3. Identify and describe the biblical, theo l o gi cal, histo ri cal, liturgical/sacram ental, and cultural ro ots and reso nan ces o f traditi o nal Christian rituals at the tim e o f death; 4. Retrieve and adapt traditi o nal rituals f or making m eanin g at th e ti m e o f death; 5. Draw o n scripture, traditi o n, d o ctrine, liturgy and cultural/eth ni c/c o m m u nity res o urc es t o create and lead gr o u n d e d , past orally-se nsitive new rituals f or the ti m e o f death that are adequate t o c hang e d situati o ns an d c o ntexts.


Teaching Assistant

Course Description

Required Books

Course Outcomes


Letter grades will be deter mined by th e quality o f the stude nt's 1. Engaged presence and informed discussion of material fro m readings and presentatio ns (25%); 2. Active, responsible participation in a workshop on a special topic (details bel o w), c o ntributi o n t o the develo p m e nt o f res o urce materials distributed t o classmates and presentation of the workshop project in class during the 2nd week, schedule t o be deter mi n ed (30%); 3. A 3-5 page paper describing your theology of death and afterlife i. e., what y o u will preac h -- and teach abo ut these thin gs, and o n what basis yo u will c o m f o rt, heal, exh ort and e n c o urage the faithful whe n facing the reality o f m o rtality? Th e state m e nt sh o uld in clude a disc ussi o n o f th e s o urces in traditi o n, scripture, reaso n, and experien c e y o u draw upo n t o gr o u n d y o ur c o n victi o ns. Due on the first day of the second week of class, Mon., Jan. 12 (15%)I 4. Individual final project due Mon., Feb. 3. Details bel ow (30%). Stude nts may o pt t o be evaluated Pass/Fail. Please n otify the instruct or by the en d o f th e first class sessi o n. Stude nts will be divided int o gr o u ps to w ork o n a spe cial situati o n o n the first day o f class in Week 1, leading t o the design and enactm e nt o f a ritual appr o priate t o that situati o n during Week 2. Ch oi ces are: 1. Too Young to Die rituals fo r the death o f an infant or t o d dler, stillbirth, -- m iscarriage, ad olesce nt aut o ac cide nt, or ot her "unti m ely" death o f a c hild 2. I Want to Die--rituals f or suicide, assisted suicide, drug or alc o h ol o v erd ose/or death fr o m addicti o n 3. Violent Death--rituals f or death by m u rder, gang or d o m estic vio le n c e 4. "Noble" Death --rituals f or the victi m o f war (soldier or civilian), death in th e c o urse o f a rescue atte m pt, self-sacrifice, c o urage o us risk fo r m e di cal advan c e m e nt 5. Sudden and Unprovided Death --rituals f or death by freak accide nt, massive str o ke or h eart attack, acts o f nature, terr orist vi olen c e; h o use fire, industrial accide nt 6. Decisions for Death--rituals f or re m o vin g life sup p o rt, with h oldin g extraordinary treat m e nt With the Shann o n / Faso b o ok listed as rec o m m e n de d, mig ht this categ ory be skipped, si m plifying the gr o u p assig nm e nt pr o c ess? 7. Known to God Alone rituals f or the death o f s o m e o n e with o ut a h o m e, a c h urc h, a -- fa mily, an ide ntity, ide ntifiable re mains Worksh o ps presentati o n s sh o uld in clude: 1. A su m mary o f the spe cific situati o n within the ge neral w orksh o p t o pi c f o r whi c h the ritual was desig ned; 2. A list o f the res o urces fr o m t he traditio n--Scripture, hist ory, the ol o g y, liturg y, sacra m e ntal practice, hym n o d y--that were tappe d t o gr o u n d an d shape the ritual;

Course Evaluation

Student Workshops/Special Topics


3. A list o f 4-6 res o urc es fr o m t h e wider c h ur c h and c o m m u nity that mig ht hel p in preparing past orally-sensitive rituals fo r this kind o f death (e.g., First Candle [www.firstcan dle. org], an organizati o n sup p orting pe o ple who have experien c e d the death o f a baby). 4. Enact m e nt o f the ritual, in v olvin g the wh ole class in s o m e way; 5. A discussi o n with the class the c h oi c es y o u made, alternatives y o u c o nsidered, and res o urces y o u f o u n d espe cially helpful; 6. C o pies o f the w orksh o p gr o u p's materials/liturgy/ritual f or all [or CONNECT p ostings]. 7. You will also be asked t o pr o vide a perso nal assessm e nt o f y o u r c o ntributio ns t o the w orksh o p and the wo rksh o p team gr o u p pr o c ess. Ch o ose o n e o f the f oll o wing o pti o n s:

Final Project

1. Research the origins and devel o p m e nt of the o bservan ce o f Ash Wednesday. Then (1), in a 5-7-page paper, discuss in what ways the traditi o nal Ash Wednesday o bservan ce deals with m o rtality; and in what ways an adapted/u p dated Ash Wednesday service mig ht assist pe o ple t o prepare f or their own deaths or make m eanin g o f the death o f a love d o n e. (2) Create suc h a service and ann otate it (i. e., explain wh y and h o w y o u de cided t o in clude eac h ele m e nt, what are the traditi o nal so ur ces o f this updated liturgy/ritual; and what are its newer ele m e nts/inspirati o ns). Th e tw o parts o f the pr oject taken t o g e ther sh o uld be n o m o re than 12 pages in len gt h. 2. Read Jo n D. Levens o n an d Kevin J. Madigan, Resurrection, The Power of God for Christians and Jews (Yale University Press, 2008) and (1) write a 5-page essay describing th e ways in whi c h the traditi o ns ab o u t the resurrecti o n o f the b o d y discussed in Resurrection in f or m ( or do n ot inf orm) the fu neral practices o f y o ur o w n c o m m u nity o f faith or y o ur de n o m i nati o n. Then (2a) EITHER write a 1,000 w ord, scripturally-based, exegetically-sou n d, and past orally-sensitive m e m o rial service h o mi ly f or a perso n y o u knew or a pers o n y o u inve nt that in c orp o rates insig hts fr o m Resurrection; OR (2b) desig n a graveside service ("c o m m ittal") f or that p ers o n, in c o rp orating insig hts fr o m Resurrection. If y o u inve nt a pers o n, be sure t o in clude a brief bi o or o bituary f or y o ur de c eased c haracter. 3. Attend 3 fun eral/me m o rial services. They nee d no t be services f or pe o ple y o u know. If y o u are a mainlin e Protestant or an Evang elical, o ne o f these services m ust be a Ro man Cath o lic, Episc o palian, Lutheran or Orth o d ox service. An ot her sh o uld be in a Protestant Christian traditi o n or an eth ni c/racial gr o u p different fr o m y o ur o wn. The third may be in y o ur ow n traditi o n o f c o m m u nity o f faith. In an 10-12 page paper, c o m pare, c o ntrast and evaluate the o rders o f service and ritual acti o n o n the basis o f the scriptural, hist orical, liturgi cal and cultural res o urc es that were in evide n c e. Finally, off er a perso nal resp o nse t o w hat y o u experien c e d: things that grabbed y o u, left y o u c ol d, puzzled y o u, m o v e d y o u, etc., and why. Be sure t o in clude the original orders o f service in an appe n dix to t he paper.


4. Ch o ose a Wo rksh o p t o p ic that y o ur gr o u p did no t deal with, and (1) read at least o n e b o ok or 3-5 articles fro m a reputable sc h olarly or past oral journal ab o ut that t o pi c, and (2) write a 4-6-page refle ctio n paper o n the t o pi c based o n y o ur reading. Then (3) design and anno tate a liturgy or ritual fo r the situatio n y o u have researc he d. Be sure t o describe the pers o n and c o n diti o ns under whi c h the pers o n (real or i magined) died--i.e., describe an d /or create a bi o graphical "situati o n" t o w ork with. 5. Desig n a 2-day retreat or a 4-sessi o n adult faith f o r mati o n o p p o rtunity f or y o ur h o m e c h ur c h or field ed churc h that deals with "the last things." Your design sh o uld in clude an intr o d u cti o n t o sele cted traditio nal rituals and at least o n e seg m e nt that w o uld be helpful t o parishi o n ers in thinking abo ut their own fu neral service or that of a l ove d o ne. Provide an ann otated o utline o f eac h sessi o n, a list o f appr o priate res o urces, and an ann o tated descripti o n o f the rituals t o be enacted and discussed. 6. Read Remembering My Grandparent: A Kid's Own Grief Workbook in the Christian Tradition, and When Your Pet Dies: A Kid's Own Remembering Workbook, by Rev. M olly Baskette, p ublished by Skylight Paths Press (www.skylig htpaths.c o m). After reading bo t h b o oks, devise a series o f 10-15 questio ns y o u w o u ld like t o ask the auth or regarding the material in the b o oks, as well as ab o ut her ideas and views o n ritualizing kids' experienc e o f death in the fa mily and within the c o n gregati o n. Request and set up a face-to-face or telep h o n e interview with M olly (she is the seni or mi nister o f First C o n gregati o nal Churc h in So m erville, MA). Please sen d h er y o ur questi o ns ahead o f ti m e s o that she may prepare. Write up the results o f y o ur interview and sub mit it alo n g with a 5-7 pp. appre ciative/critical review o f b ot h b o oks. 7. A topi c o f yo ur o w n c h o o sin g. C o nsult with Mary and/or Ann. Worksh o ps and Projects will be evaluated o n the basis o f: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Evaluation of Workshop Presentations and Final Projects

Quality o f c o ntributi o n; effe ctive n ess o f leadership r ole; Grou n di n g in traditi o n, the ol o g y, scripture, etc.; Imaginati o n and creativity; Tho u g htfulness and willin g n ess t o e n gage i m p ortant questi o n s; Pastoral and c o ntextual ap pr o priateness; Ritual efficac y (d o es it "w ork?").

A Beginning Bibliography I. Theology and Pastoral Practice

1. Stephanie Paulsell, Honoring the Body 2. M olly Baskette, My Grandparent: A Kid's Own Grief Workbook in the Christian Tradition; When Your Pet Dies: A Kid's Own Remembering Workbook


3. Tho mas A. Shan n o n and Charles N. Faso, O.F.M; Let Them Go Free: Family Prayer Service to Assist in the Withdrawal of Life Support Systems 4. Soren Kierkegaard; The Sickness Unto Death 5. Irving Green berg; The Jewish Way, Chapter 6, "Rebirth and Renewal: The Hig h Holy Days" 6. Internati o nal C o m m issi o n o n English in the Liturgy: A Joint C o m m issi o n o f Cath olic Bish o p' C o n f ere n c es, Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum 7. Mic hael D. Bush, ed; This Incomplete One: Words Occasioned by the Death of a Young Person 8. Jon Levens o n and Kevin Madigan, Resurrection, the Power of God for Christians and Jews

II. First Person Accounts, Essays, Poetry and Fiction

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Joan Didi o n , The Year of Magical Thinking Jane Keny o n , Otherwise: New and Selected Poems Do nald Hall, Without: Poems Leo Tolst o y, The Death of Ivan Illich Ernest J. Gain es, A Lesson Before Dying Joh n Gunther, Death Be Not Proud Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop Thornt o n Wilder, Our Town Henri J. M. Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed Joan Wickersha m; The Suicide Index Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm Evelyn Waug h, The Loved One

III. Comic Relief IV. Works of Art

The w orks of art that deal with the m es of death, dying, and grief are innum erable-- painting, sculpture, p o etry, so n g, danc e, dra ma, fil m, fr o m every ti m e and place. In the Christian West, th e Requie m Mass is o ne o f the best kn o w n m usical f or ms that deals with the reality o f death and the Christian ho p e. Major c o m p osers in clude Ockegen, Palestrina, Victoria, Brah ms, M ozart, Berli oz, Verdi, Beeth o v e n, Dv orak, Faure, Durufle, Britten NB: A resource for adult faith formation is from Kerygma--Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms's Requiem, Carol M. Bechtel (a 7-part series that examines each movement). For additi o n al bibli o graph y o n these and ot her related t o pi cs, see the Appen dix to this Syllabus

Class Meetings


Assignment for first class meeting, Monday, Jan. 5

How We Die, Chapters 1-3, pp. 3-88 1. Monday, January 5 Intr o du cti o n s, review o f syllabus; Worksh o p t o pi cs sig n-up Topi cs: M ortality, c o nting e n c y, creatureh o o d, Assignment for tomorrow's class: Genesis, Ch. 1-3, Mighty Stories, Chs. 1-3, pp. 154; Sacred Dying, Chs. 1-3, pp. 1-74; relevant blessings, intercess o ry prayers in d e n o m i nati o nal w orship b o oks 2. Tuesday, January 6 (Festival of Epiphany] Topi cs: Rituals, rites--what are we dealing with? Ho w/why d o th ey "w ork"? Intercess ory prayer and blessings Worksh o p g rou ps m eet Assignment for tomorrow's class: Mighty Stories, Ch. 4, pp. 57-74, Ch. 8, p p. 149166; Sacred Dying, fro m Ch. 5, pp. 75-82; relevant secti o ns o f de n o m i nati o nal w orship b o o ks: rites o f Baptis m and C o m m u ni o n (or exam ples o f c o n gregati o nal o r d ers o f w o rship f or these rites, if y o ur de n o mi n atio n d o es no t have a w o rship b o ok) 3. Wednesday, January 7 Topi cs: Ritual as re m e m bering/f oreshad o win g Baptis m, C o m m u ni o n as rituals o f m o rtality Rec o nstitutin g traditi o n al rituals, engagin g the dying and the fa mily/c o m m u nity in m eaning-making NB: OPTIONAL AFTER LUNCH WORKSHOP: BRAHMS REQUIEM LISTENING SESSION AND REFLECTION Assignment for tomorrow's class: Mighty Stories, Ch. 9, pp. 167-183; Sacred Dying, Ch. 6, pp. 100-124; relevant secti o ns o f de n o m i nati o nal w orship b o oks: rites o f rec o n ciliati o n and f orgive ness/absoluti o n 4. Thursday, January 8 Topi cs: Traditi o nal views: the "Last Thi n gs": Judg m e nt, Heaven, Purgat ory, Hell Hope and fear, sorr ow an d regret, f o rgiveness and a m e n ds Worksh o p g rou p m e eting Assignment for tomorrow's class: Mighty Stories, Ch. 6, pp. 97-122; Sacred Dying, Ch 3. 12-13, p p. 221261; ot her readin g t o be assig n e d 5. Friday, January 9 NB: Paper on theology of death and afterlife due today Topi cs: Field trip--the fun eral h o m e, making c h oic es Traditi o nal Christian burial practices.


M ore o n rituals o f re c o n ciliati o n Assignment for tomorrow's class: How We Die, Ch. 12, pp. 242-262; Amy Plantinga Pauw, "Dying Well, in Doro t h y Bass, ed., Practicing Our Faith (han d o ut) 6. Monday, January 12 Topi cs: Life review, legacy, gratitude; distilling and bequeathin g a life in blessings Hospice care Student workshop presentation #1 Assignment for tomorrow's class: Step hanie Paulsell, Honoring the Body, [hand o ut]; Sacred Dying, Ch. 7, pp.125-142; relevant de n o mi n atio nal rites f or h ealing, an ointing 7. Tuesday, January 13 Topi cs: Baptis mal renewal, Viaticu m, an oi nting The sanctificatio n o f every day gestures, h o n orin g the b o d y Student workshop presentations #2 (or #1 and #2) NB: OPTIONAL OVER/AFTER LUNCH WORKSHOP ON THE FUNERAL HOMILY Stude nts participating in this w orksho p sh o uld bring c o pies o f at last o n e fu neral/mem o rial service h o mily or eul o g y delivered by a past or at an actual service. Assignment for tomorrow's class: Sacred Dying, Ch. 8, pp. 143-162; other readings t o be assigned 8. Wednesday, January 14 Topi cs: Traditi o ns o f keepi n g vigil, sacre d ac c o m p ani m e nt Guest: Jennifer Hollis, harpist DVD: Holdin g Our Own Student workshop presentation #3 Assignment for tomorrow's class: Gather material fr o m traditi o nal and o ther sources f or plannin g a fu neral or m e m o rial service 9. Thursday, January 15 Topi cs: Planni n g the fu n eral service, th e m e m o rial service, eul o g y vs. h o mily, ot her liturgical c h o i c es, the wishes o f the dead, the wake, visiting ho urs, l o cal cust o ms Student workshop presentation #4 10. Friday, January 16 Topi cs: Funeral, fa mily aftercare, past oral self-care C o urse review and evaluatio n NB: POTLUCK FUNERAL COLLATION


Reminder: Monday, February 3, Final Project due



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