When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ash cash cowboys

The Times reports,

The Church of England is taking steps to ban “ash cash” payments to clergy for taking funerals at churches and crematoria.

Instead, the money will go direct to dioceses. The move will stamp out the “crematoria cowboys”, clergy who supplement meagre or non-existent incomes by conducting dozens of crematorium funerals at £96 a time.

At its meeting next month in Westminster, the General Synod will debate switching the “incumbent’s fee” for pastoral services to a fee payable direct to the diocesan board of finance.

Later in the same report, it says,

Every person in England is legally entitled to a wedding and funeral in the parish in which they live.

I didn't know that. Did you? Not that I'd want to exercise that right.

Anyhow, to get back to these "crematoria cowboys": I did wonder how many of these freelance clergy declare all their income, either to the church or the Inland Revenue. A significant proportion don't, it appears. What the clients might ask is; do they get value for money, wherever it ends up?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Heat exchangers at the crematorium

Considering the environmental cost of cremation - despite the Clean Air Act, it still causes pollution and uses fossil fuels - don't you think it's a good idea to reduce the impact by using some of the heat it generates to warm the living? Crematoria can be chilly.

The Daily Mail reported today,

Tameside Council in Greater Manchester is planning to link heat exchangers at Dukinfield Crematorium with its boiler system and hopes to use it to generate electricity through turbines.

Comments about the story are as interesting as the proposal. Most seem to be in favour, with only a minority using words like "sick". Eileen from Herts wrote,

Ughh. Sounds awful to me. I would hate to know the heating was being generated by loved ones [sic] bodies. Deceased or not.

Deceased or not? What does she mean?

The Daily Mail's sub-editor seems ignorant of the purpose of a crematorium. The story's headed,

Crematorium to keep mourners warm by burning bodies of loved ones

which suggests a funeral pyre with relatives standing around, warming their hands. Crematoria don't burn bodies to keep mourners warm, but because it's cheaper than burial and most people prefer it. There was a time when the idea was repellent to most people. It was a practical solution to the problem of overcrowded municipal cemeteries. Lots of people used to think "Ugh!" Some associated cremation with the fires of hell. It only takes a few decades for attitudes to change. Why waste heat?