The term is "recomposition" and the idea has taken off in Washington state. Katrina Spade originally cooked up the idea of composting human beings back in 2013 from a farming friend who composts dead livestock. She now has the backing of Democrat Sen. Jamie Pedersen, who is sponsoring a bill in Washington’s Legislature that if passed, would allow families to compost their death family members as early as 2020.
"Pedersen sees recomposition as an environmental and a social justice issue."It always circles back to social justice. Exactly how it is considered "social justice" is because its cheap-so poor people can compost their dead and then plant a tree in the remains-and composted dead people can help stop erosion. Senator Pedersen gushes that “People from all over the state who wrote to me are very excited about the prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves”. Becoming a tree eh? 🌳
I was curious to what faith-if any Pedersen subscribed to. According to Wiki, Pedersen is an openly gay Lutheran man "married" to another man and together they are raising four sons. Apparently, in Pedersen's branch of the Lutheran faith one can become a tree after death-and he says it like that's a good thing.
I asked a Catholic family member what they thought of human composting and her response was, isn't that what happens to us anyway?
Well, yes, but we aren't scattered in the flower bed or used to mulch the apple tree. Maybe I'm the only one who sees a problem with this. 😕
Quote: "The process involves placing unembalmed human remains wrapped in a shroud in a 5-foot-by-10-foot cylindrical vessel with a bed of organic material such as wood chips, alfalfa and straw. Air is then periodically pulled into the vessel, providing oxygen to accelerate microbial activity. Within approximately one month, the remains are reduced to a cubic yard of compost that can be used to grow new plants."The Catholic take so far?
"Alkaline hydrolysis may go against Catholic doctrine that requires the human body to be respected, said James LeGrys, theological adviser to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. LeGrys was unfamiliar with recomposition, but noted that it could be problematic if body parts are separated in any way."Could be problematic?
Imagine how this would work...
After the Catholic funeral everyone follows the hearse to the local compost heap and tosses dear old granny in. Then a month later they show up with shovels to either stuff granny's compost into burlap bags or a wheelbarrow so they can tote her back home to their garden.
Yeah, seems a bit problematic to me. But what do I know?
I was surprised to learn there is something going on in Germany that is very similar. Though not composted, the cremated remains of people are being put beneath trees in "forest burials".
Quote: "Asked specifically about the growing trend in his native Germany of "forest burials," where people pay to have their ashes in urns interred at the base of a tree in a designated forest burial ground, Cardinal Muller said the German bishops were not thrilled with the idea, but accepted it with the proviso that the tree be marked with the name of the person buried at its base."🌲Muller continues...
"We believe in the resurrection of the body and this must be the principle of our understanding and practice," Cardinal Muller told Catholic News Service, noting that there is a difference between allowing for the natural decay of the body while protecting the environment and seeing the body of the deceased primarily as fertilizer for plants and trees."
In Christ and not wishing to be composted,
Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner