I recently read a newspaper article in the Duluth News Tribune that I though was very interesting. Apparently, a new type of cremation has been developed which will offer "a 'greener' alternate to traditional cremation, which consumes more energy and releases mercury from dental fillings and other pollutants into the air" (Peterson). From what I understand, this process, called "bio-cremation," uses only heat, water, and certain chemicals in order to speed up the process of decomposition, resulting in the bones and teeth remaining intact while the rest of the body--now a "sterile liquid"--is flushed into a "sanitary sewer system."
While I did not keep the hard copy of the article, nor could I access it online, I did manage to find a picture that I remembered was featured within the article that provides a visual and more simplified explanation of the process, plus an article from the Pine Journal (which I think is a part of the Duluth News Tribune) that explains it more fully. The links are listed below.
The first article on this subject (published about two weeks ago) provided only facts regarding what bio-cremation is and the plans of funeral home operators to put it into practice, but I wondered what sort of religious or cultural repercussions might result from this. As a matter of fact, as I was researching this over the last few days, I read that the funeral home in Cloquet recently voted not to utilize bio-cremation. There was also a comment on the DNT website which pointed out the indignity of bio-cremation. Funeral burning has been practiced for many centuries, mostly for religious reasons. As much as I like the fact that someone has thought of yet another way for people to be environmentally friendly, I believe there is something very dignified about fire and ritual burnings. Moreover, it is not easy to stop or change a cultural practice, especially one that has gone on for so long and has been thought by many throughout history (i.e. Vikings) to be so illustrious.
I personally would like my body to be cremated after I die, but, assuming bio-cremation is still utilized in the future, I'm not sure what kind of cremation I would want. I hope this isn't an indelicate question, but what do you think? For those who would like their bodies cremated, would you rather have your body burned into ashes, or artificially decomposed? Furthermore, what do you think our choice would reveal about us as individuals and as a culture regarding how we view death?