01 November 2010

How Should We Then Die?

When James Robertson wrote the foreword to my book about Stonewall Jackson and his black Sunday school class, he included these words:

"Willams's analyses reveal clearly that nineteenth-century religiosity, which some writers and reviewers conclude was nonsense, was in fact very much alive." 

The Museum of the Confederacy's most recent video short delves into this subject as it related to death during the time of the WBTS. Would it be accurate to suggest that death at this period of time was, for lack of better words, "more real?" This being due to the fact that mind-numbing drugs were not as readily available and those dying could express what they saw and felt while passing and while often possessing their full faculties. I would suggest that is so and also reveals why, at least to some extent, 19th century humans possessed more "sincere religiosity."


Lawrence Underwood said...

This is a topic which my father and I have frequently discussed. It is painfully obvious that we have lost something in life while trying to ease pain in death. I know that for many that may sound like a cruel or twisted belief, but nonetheless I believe it. We have so removed death as a part of life that it is now not a reality for many. Families no longer are a part of their beloved's death. No longer do they sit with the body (wake) to make sure. No longer do they prepare the body for burial. Everything is remote, sanitised, and surreal rather than real. I think we are worse off for it.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Lawrence - yes, it is a difficult subject but I tend to agree with you. This past Summer, my brother in law passed away after a brief battle w/cancer. The family was able to bring him home and he passed away with most of his 9 sisters and 2 of his brothers gathered around his deathbed singing hymns. It was a deeply moving experience. Thankfully, he was a Christian which provided some solace to his death.