Thernwhole idea of a funeral industry “trade show” is a conflation of many weird andrndisturbing images. When I read about the Amsterdam Funeral Expo, images ofrnsalesmen manning trade show cubicles in some large open convention center,rnvying for customers by offering a spin of a wheel to win a free branded coffeerncup or the chance of a two-day, one-night trip to Baja, in exchange for yourrnpersonal information and interest in the latest cremation kiln, materialized inrnmy brain.
Amsterdam,rnground zero of the euthanasia movement, has outdone itself again, if we are tornbelieve what was being promoted at this year’s funeral expo. It’s called thern“Sarco” which is short for sarcophagus and it is a “do-it-yourself” suicidernmachine.
ThernSarco device achieves this by its futuristic, albeit expensive, means of beingrnconjured into existence via a 3D printer. This eliminates the middleman in thernsuicide process and circumvents several “archaic” statutes still on the booksrnacross the globe that attempt to put a damper on suicides in general.
Whatrnin a different epoch would be considered a monstrous and diabolical invention isrntoday being feted on the streets of a major European city as a great leaprnforward in human evolution.
Thernbrainchild of an Australian euthanasia proponent and a Dutch designer in the 21strncentury, Sarco may on the surface look like a great leap forward intornsomething, but it also reminds us of mankind’s long history of suicide and thernpropensity of our culture to romanticize and sanitize it.
Socratesrnhad a dramatic demise at his own hand and Romeo and Juliet made the act nearlyrnbeautiful. Socrates’ suicide was not a completely willful act, having been condemnedrnin an Athenian court, and thus his drinking of the hemlock was compulsory, butrnhe still managed to “own” his own demise via a dramatic and philosophic flourishrnwhich has been emulated for thousands of years hence.
Romeornand Juliet’s end is no less dramatic, but much more tragic considering theirrnyouth and their potential, all destroyed by ancient grudges and the fatefulrnplacement of sword points.
Inrnboth cases though, the historical and cultural take away from these deaths wasrnclear — they were not a good thing.
Notrnso with more modern cultural manifestations of self-slaughter. There is anrnever-growing laundry list of films and television programs where “mercy”rnkilling or some other form of euthanasia or outright suicide is held in highrnesteem.
Inrnthe 1980s, the film “Whose Life Is It Anyway,” based on a hit stage play, hadrnits main character fighting for the right to take his own life because life hadrnbecome not what he expected. Further down the road Clint Eastwood paid homagernto the concept of mercy killing in his highly praised film “Million DollarrnBaby.”
Allrnof these roads lead to Amsterdam, it seems, where a mortuary trade show featuresrnits newest and state-of-the-art killing machine. I half expect next year’srnmodel may be the “Sarco GTO Edition.”
Accordingrnto the inventor of the machine, the “problem” in most countries is that it isrnnot against the law to kill oneself…but it is unlawful to assist someone. WithrnSarco, that problem is resolved, as someone bent on his own destruction can 3Drnprint himself a brand-new machine, get inside and, with the touch of onernbutton, pump the chamber full of nitrogen.
I’mrnno scientist, but I am not aware if one can 3D print the nitrogen gas thernmachine relies on for its proper use — so there may be the need of a middlemanrnafter all.
Therninventor (merchant) of this death machine was quoted as saying killing oneselfrnis a “fundamental human right” and went on to insist that the time and place ofrnone’s death was completely up to the individual.
Herndid grant that life was a precious gift, but one nevertheless we are free to givernback on a day-to-day basis — a more thorough and complete rejection of thernChristian ethos I cannot recall.
Likernlife, our salvation is the same kind of gift — unearned and from the hands of arnloving Father through the sacrifice of his loving Son. The art that inspiresrnpeople to create killing machines is not compatible with that premise.
Lifernand salvation, two essential pillars of our faith, are best not returned tornsender until the sender is good and ready —and we don’t need machines or moviesrnto inform of us when that time is. He’ll let us know.