Never Stop Learning

John Troyer, Ph.D., talks smart about dying while two live death librarians answer your deathly queries.

  • Wig

    Day 28: Full Transcript of House of Lords Debate on Assisted Dying

    Assisted Dying Bill: 2nd Reading on July 18, 2014 United Kingdom House of Lords Hansard (Published July 21, 2014) The UK’s House of Lords has…

  • AVCT 175th Anniversary Garden Party July 27 2014

    Day 27: On Sundays, the Death Reference Desk Kicks It Cemetery Style

    Does the Death Reference Desk know how to party, or WHAT?!

  • 'Mourners singing We'll Meet Again. Andrew Shervington, who is digging, was a community leader in Notting Hill during the race riots. The typical songs sung round the grave were Abide With Me and How Great Thou Art. Now, people tend to play Frank Sinatra's My Way or Luther Vandross's Dance With My Father instead.' At Kensal Rise, London, 1972. (From the Guardian article)

    Day 26: Photos of London’s Afro-Caribbean Funerals

    How great thou art: 50 years of Afro-Caribbean funerals – in pictures Charlie Phillips, in The Guardian (July 25, 2014) The spirituals sung, the Scotch…

  • The Guillotine

    Day 25: Death Row Prisoners’ Final Statements and Meals

    From America’s Busiest Death Chamber, a Catalog of Last Rants, Pleas and Apologies Manny Fernandez, The New York Times (June 29, 2013) Texas has executed…

  • Day 24: How Praying Really Hard and Grave Sucking Might Help Raise the Dead

    Deadraiser
    Directed by Johnny Clark (October 04, 2013)

     

    Evangelical Christians want access to more corpses … to hone their ‘raising the dead’ skills

    Barry Duke, The Freethinker (March 10, 2014)

     

    The people who believe in medical miracles
    BBC News Magazine (March 10, 2014)

     

    What is Grave Sucking?
    Michael Boehm, Youth Apologetics Training (February 12, 2014)
    Helping teens understand and defend Christianity. Helping parents train up their young in the faith.

    Last February and March I started collecting information on Evangelical Christian groups that believe in the power of prayer to resurrect the dead. It’s not an entirely new idea for Christianity (e.g. Jesus) but its supporters have ebbed and flowed over the centuries.

    One of the new groups that’s involved is called the Dead Raising Team.

    Filmmaker Johnny Clark made a documentary about the Dead Raising Team and you can watch the doc’s trailer at the top of the page.

    Slightly before I came across the Dead Raising Team, I encountered a somewhat connected but different practice called Grave Sucking. Michael Boehm, writing for the pro-Christian Youth Apologetics blog, explains that:

    Grave sucking or mantle grabbing is the belief and practice of pulling the supposed Holy Spirit powers from the dead bones of a previously empowered believer.

    Not much else to say, really.

    It’s worth noting, I think, that Boehm doesn’t support Grave Sucking and thinks that it’s, um, impractical.

    Then again, ‘miracles’ do happen. Just last February a man was declared dead in Mississippi only to wake up inside a body bag. This could also be a case of a less-than-rigorous end of life medical exam.

    Deadraiser Directed by Johnny Clark (October 04, 2013)   Evangelical Christians want access to more corpses … to hone their ‘raising the dead’ skills Barry…

  • Death Ref John as 19th century Post-Mortem Portrait

    Day 23: Death Ref John as a 19th Century Postmortem Photograph

    Professor Bellows Photography Mall of America, Minneapolis, MN (USA) In summer 2006, Argentinian artist Ana Lois-Borzi and I collaborated on a postmortem photography project. Ana…

  • Adrian Tomine 'Memorial Plaza' New Yorker Cover July 7 & 14 2014

    Day 22: People Taking Selfies at the 9/11 Memorial, because #America

    Selfies from the 9/11 Memorial Leah Finnegan, The Awl (July 21, 2014) Let us begin Day 22 of the 31 Days of Death posts with…

  • Portable Morgues

    Day 21: Dealing with Dead Bodies in Mass Fatality Events

    Dutch Investigators Finally Gain Access to MH17 Remains Caroline Bankoff, Daily Intelligencer (July 21, 2014) Last week’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in…

  • Day 20: Patrick Stewart Campaigns with Assisted Dying Supporters

    Actor Patrick Stewart joins campaign for ‘assisted dying’
    BBC News (July 18, 2014)

    Somehow, and I don’t entirely know the reasons, I completely missed these interviews with actor Patrick Stewart on the recent House of Lords assisted dying debate.

    He’s got clearly articulated personal reasons for supporting Lord Falconer’s bill and understands how the proposed legislation would work. I also give him credit for supporting a cause that I can imagine some talent agents might suggest you avoid.

    That said, he’s the kind of actor (and big name movie star) who doesn’t flinch when it comes to supporting causes he believes in.

    Good interviews to watch.

    Actor Patrick Stewart joins campaign for ‘assisted dying’ BBC News (July 18, 2014) Somehow, and I don’t entirely know the reasons, I completely missed these…

  • Day 19: Digital Death Bill Marches Onward

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved
    A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital assets. The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) at its 123rd Annual Meeting in Seattle
    Uniform Law Commission Press Release (July 16, 2014)

    The Death Reference Desk has been so busy this week with all things assisted dying that we missed an important development in the digital death world.

    Earlier this week, the Uniform Law Commission approved a new model law that allows access to digital assets, i.e., photos, documents, social media accounts, etc., by a person other than the original owner if an executor is named.

    The ULC develops proposed legislation for potential use by all 50 US States. This particular bill is important for anyone thinking about who or whom will have access to your digital files, assets, properties, e-mails, photos, etc., after you die.

    We’ve only got the press release to work from right now, which isn’t ideal, but there will more to come about the ULC’s approval.

    The approved bill is summed up this way:

    In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones. Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets. Photographs are uploaded to web sites rather than printed on paper. However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update.

     

    The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act [UFADAA] solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.” If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset. UFADAA governs four common types of fiduciaries: personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate; guardians or conservators of a protected person’s estate; agents under a power of attorney; and trustees.

    But don’t worry, if you want to hide embarrassing e-mail messages or make sure that no one knows about your online shenanigans (we’re not judging) then this proposed legislation covers those situations too.

    Just remember: if you don’t want the kids to know about it, then don’t do it online.

    You can read the bill here.

    Unless, of course, we’re all just living in a digital simulation.

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital…

  • House of Lords Bill Pathways

    Day 18: The House of Lords Approves Assisted Dying Bill for Committee Review

    Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2014-15 Private Members’ Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) Sponsor: Lord Falconer of Thoroton (July 18, 2014) It’s an over…

  • The Labyrinth

    Day 17: Moral Maze Radio Programme on Assisted Dying

    Moral Maze: Assisted Dying BBC Radio 4 (July 16, 2014) The Moral Maze programme on BBC radio is a long-running show dedicated to debating and…